I like to believe my business spirit was born as a 9 year old kid. You see, I had a fantastic best friend back then called Jimmy. Jimmy happened to live in the biggest house ever known to man. It was seriously the size of Mars. Or even The Sun. Or so it appeared to my 9 year old brain. He was also a world Karate champion. It was, of course, the only excuse I needed to sleep at his house and go play as often as I could.
Business Plans at 9 Years Old
Sliding down his stairs, playing with his nunchucks, or writing the 9 year olds equivalent of a business plan for a Karate dojo were what kept us entertained for all those years. Oh, and don’t forget the butler, Jeeves style, that lived inside the old fireplace and only came out at night when I wasn’t there (I never saw him, but I’m sure Jimmy was telling the truth!). And the endless supply of crazed bats that would fly in to the house.
(We’ll forget about the time I stepped on and killed Jimmy’s hamster. That’s the truth. Little Snowy ran straight under my foot. *Squish* I’m surprised Jimmy didn’t roundhouse kick me in to next week!)
From the day Jimmy said, “Jamie, my Dad has found us an empty warehouse to setup the dojo”, I was hooked on this big thing called “being an entrepreneur”.
Rocks & Broken Windows at 10 Years Old
I’ve never enjoyed reading from a school book or listening to a teacher scratch her fingers down a chalkboard. No, I prefer to be out in the real world, learning from experience. So looking back to when I was 10 years old, it isn’t much surprise that rather than having an ounce of book sense, I was throwing golf ball size rocks over the roof of nearby houses. (Hey, I was hiding behind a bush. Nobody could see me!).
I had a strong arm back then. My rocks went over the roof and landed… somewhere. Possibly on someone’s head.
My mate Chris wasn’t so lucky. *Smash!* Straight through the bathroom window of the house.
We ran back to my house and hid in my bedroom. But it wasn’t to be. We got caught and Chris had to pay for a new window out of his pocket money. It wouldn’t have been worth it, if it wasn’t for the fact the guy was in his bathroom and almost caught the rock as it smashed through the glass! Real life learning is much more exciting than sat at a desk, reading from a book.
“I Love Jamie Harrop” – Busted by the Cops!
At 12 years old I was the hottest bachelor in town. (I’m so modest!). My customer service skills began to shine through as I dedicated all free hours to talking on the phone with the girls from school. Of course, there was no sales pitch needed on my part. It was just courtesy calls to keep all (2,347) of them happy.
This outstanding customer service ultimately led to the perfect branding for me. One Summers evening while one of the girls was out with friends, she decided to pull out her permanent marker pen. A wall isn’t a wall unless it has been defaced with some (any) sort of graffiti. But this wall was a lucky wall. 5 minutes after pulling out the permanent marker pen, the wall was defaced with “I Love Jamie Harrop”. Ultimate branding!
I was sorry, then, to hear how Police Constable Plod pulled up at the side of the road, catching Miss ‘I Love Jamie Harrop’ in the act. The brand was soon removed. Of course, the story remains, and now, whenever I get asked “What have you done with your life so far?”, I answer simply, “I’ve had my name graffitied on a wall by a girl with a crush.” That type of fame beats any newspaper articles, radio interviews or public speaking I’ve done. Honest!
Getting Down to Business – At 14 Years Old
I was 14 when I was first shown by a good friend, James, how to design a Web site. From that moment forward, I closed the curtains, locked the door, and spent the next two years curled up like a hermit, teaching myself everything I could about Web design and business.
By 15 I had my first pay cheque for creating a Web site, and at 17 I dropped out of college a year early to setup full time as a freelancer and blogger.
Before my 18th birthday I had spoken live on BBC radio about life as a young entrepreneur, received a half-page spread in a local newspaper, and had grown adults queuing up for my business card at weekly networking events.
Meeting Bloggers Face to Face
A few years passed, I worked my ass off, and eventually came to being 20 years old. It was then that I started to co-organise a monthly blogger meetup, alongside Chris Garrett. Each month, the group get together with 20-30 bloggers in the North of the UK for a couple hours of presentations, blog critiques, and an after event, usually consisting of lots of beer, food and fun.
What Became of Jimmy and the Karate Dojo?
In the end, we decided the Karate dojo business plans were flawed in the sense that we were just… well… kids. As for Jimmy, if you watch any UK TV (Coronation Street, The Street, Survivors, Waterloo Road), you may have seen him perfecting his male-model TV actor career.
What I Do Today
Today, I work 9-5 for The Hoseasons Group, as a Web site designer. The rest of my time is spent in the gym, writing, developing the occasional Web site, rock climbing, and enjoying the outdoors. Life is good!