When most teenagers want to feed their video game habit, they do one of two things. They either put out their hand and make a withdrawal from the Bank of Mom and Dad or they get a job. They flip burgers or pour coffee and they hand over their minimum wage to the clerk at the games store.
Not Temper Thompson. When Temper was in eighth grade he decided he wasn't going to ask his parents for money, and he didn't want to smell of fries either. So he fired up his computer and he started online marketing. His goal was to earn $100 every month.
He's now 17 years old and the courses on Kindle publishing that he sells from his website are earning him...$30,000 a month. That's more than many Americans make in a year. I asked Temper how he's doing it and what he's learned as he built a six-figure income before starting college. He broke his success into five lessons.
1. Take Action
The first lesson is that you have to actually do something. "A lot of people talk about what they want to do but they never actually do it," Temper says. "If you don't take action, you're never going to have success."
We all know people like that. We've all been people like that. But here's the thing: Ideas, even great ideas, are cheap. We have them all the time. It's implementation that makes the difference. That's what takes time and effort. Many people never understand that. Temper got it right back in eighth grade.
2. Don't Fear Failure
The second lesson is to persevere.
Mistakes always happen. Temper went through plenty of trial and error as he was growing his business, but it's what happens next that matters. Too many people try, fail, and give up, he says. "No wonder they never achieve success. Failure is an advantage. You learn from your mistakes and you get better."
3. Stay Focused
You also have to hone in on a topic and stick with it.
We hear so much these days about short attention spans. We hear how young people can't sit still or stay focused on one thing. As far as Temper is concerned, that's fatal. The new and the shiny have to stay an arms-length away.
"The most powerful thing you can do is just focus on one thing," he says. "You can grow much bigger when you stay focused."
4. Surround Yourself With Positive People
You have to have the right network--a support network that's inspiring, encouraging, and uplifting.
Temper's parents are entrepreneurs. They own a coffee shop and they're very happy with their lifestyle. They're not looking to expand. Temper is ambitious. He wants to keep growing, and his parents support him. They haven't given him any financial support--he started with nothing and just kept reinvesting his profits--but they have given him plenty of moral support. That kind of environment is essential.
"If you surround yourself with negative, unsuccessful people, they'll drag you down with them," says Temper. "Positive people will support you and help you stay focused."
5. Don't Get Comfortable
And you have to keep moving forward.
Here's a number that should impress any potential investor: Temper has grown his business by a factor of 10 every year. Once he'd hit that $100 monthly goal, he didn't sit back and put his feet up. He saw that, with a few changes, he could make $1,000 a month. When he was making a thousand bucks, he still didn't kick back. He leaned forward, made some more changes, and drove towards $10,000 a month.
His goal for this year is to generate $100,000 a month. He's well on the way.
"A lot people will hit their goal and say they're happy," he says. "If you don't get comfortable, you can keep increasing goals and keep growing."
There are plenty of entrepreneurs who would love to be generating $30,000 a month. Temper Thompson might still be in school, but he's got plenty to teach all of us.