Now 28, Cameron Johnson has become one of the most successful young entrepreneurs in the world. He has been featured in a number of newspapers, magazines and television stations including News Week, BusinessWeek, USA Today, The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Oprah Winfrey Show, MSNBC, ABC, and dozens in Japan as well.
His book, You Call The Shots, is a must read for anyone who is looking to start their own business. Here’s what Donald Trump has to say about it:
“Cameron Johnson wrote me a letter when he was eight years old. I didn’t write back to him, but I responded with a surprise for him when he visited New York City. Thirteen years later, he’s given me a surprise–he’s written a terrific book! No matter what your age, you will enjoy and learn from Cameron’s book about his accomplishments thus far. I’m sure there will be more to come.”
You can learn more about Cameron on his official website. Now, without further ado I am truly honored to introduce Cameron Johnson.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Passion, persistence, and to believe in yourself
How do you find people to bring into your organization that truly care about the organization the way you do?
I think there is an abundance of talented people all around us – whether it be in the corporate world, on a college campus, or simply someone we’ve met online. The real question is how do you motivate those people to have the same passion in the business that you have. For me, I was always able to partner with very brilliant young people whose skills complemented mine. Sometimes they were given ownership in the business and other times they were paid very well but for all of us, it was never about the money. It was about building something together that was better and bigger than anything we cold have done individually. That’s the passion that everyone must share.
What has been your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
Looking back, I took a lot of risks but I definitely could have taken more. Chapter 2 of my book is titled “Start Small” – I think every entrepreneur should start as small as possible. When you start small, you’re risking the least amount of capital which means if you make a mistake or something goes wrong, it’s much easier to change course and correct that error. I believe in taking calculated risks and by starting small, I’m fortunate there was never a time that myself and the business weren’t able to change direction very quickly.
What pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
I wrote You Call the Shots which came out in 2007. The first chapter is the absolute most important trait for every entrepreneur and that is “Put Yourself Out There.” You must be willing to take a risk, go for it, and to believe in yourself. The second is “Start Small” and that’s just as important. I meet too many “entrepreneurs” who claim they want to start a business but instead have an excuse that typically goes something like this 1) I don’t have enough experience, 2) I don’t have enough money, 3) I don’t have enough connections, 4) I don’t have enough education. I stress to all of them, put yourself out there and get started. Even if you had all of the experience, money, education, and connections that doesn’t at all guarantee success and you still have to put yourself out there. Nothing happens on its own.
If you were to start another business, what might it be?
I’m always looking for new ideas and I keep a document on my computer desktop with ideas. As for internet-based stuff, everything is going mobile and to apps. So if I was starting an online business today, it would definitely involve both of those things. I also look for problems in the world as problems are opportunities. How can we make something easier, cheaper, or better? Entrepreneurs are just problem solvers.
What has been most rewarding for you, from becoming successful?
I think one of the most rewarding things is being able to share the story and help other entrepreneurs, regardless of their age. 70% of all job growth in America comes from small business owners and having low barriers of entry to the marketplace and encouraging entrepreneurship is the best thing we can do as a country to promote economic growth.
Do you travel a lot, and if so, where do you like traveling the most?
I do travel quite a bit. Often times it’s for business or a speaking engagement which gives me less time to explore a particular city but I especially enjoy traveling overseas. I first visited Japan when I was 15 and it’s still one of my favorite countries. Growing up on the east coast, I also enjoy the Bahamas, Caribbean, etc.
Any last words of wisdom?
I truly believe that You Call the Shots in your life and whether that means starting a business, moving up the corporate ladder, or becoming an educator to teach others….you’re in charge of your life. As for traveling, it’s one of the most enjoyable and educational experiences you’ll ever have.