After building a company for over a decade, I’ve recently become more intentional about mentoring new entrepreneurs (I’ll explain this decision in another post). They often want to know the story of how I started CCAW Automotive Group. Like most people, they usually don’t realize that CCAW was my second “official” company (the fourth or fifth if you count all my childhood hustles). I’ve never shared this before, but here’s the story of how I started my first company.
In high school, my dad’s close friend (I’ll call him Joe) was visiting for Thanksgiving. He saw me heads down, intensely researching, and asked what I was up to. Joe was an entrepreneur. He was super-curious about new things, and it showed. He always engaged with me differently than other adults. At the time, I was into cars and had been trying to figure out how aftermarket auto shops source their products. I figured I could cut out the middleman and get better deals for my friends and me. Keep in mind that this was 1998—information wasn’t as readily available as it is today. I learned about retail and wholesale relationships but hit a wall when wholesalers asked for my business license.
Armed with my research, I proudly told Joe, “When I become an adult, I want to start my own company selling auto accessories.”
He interrupted me. “Why wait until you’re an adult?”
The question caught me off guard. I was speechless. I assumed there was some age barrier to overcome, but I’d never taken steps to find out if that was true. Joe encouraged me to apply for a business license and see what happened. I took his advice, and two weeks later my first company was registered with the Louisiana Department of Revenue. I officially had a business (well . . . kind of).
- Take action. Take the first step. Confirm your assumptions.
- Stay curious. Never stop learning.
- Give back. Take the time to talk with anyone interested in entrepreneurship. Encourage them. You could change someone’s life!