Lane Sutton is a social media guru, webmaster, and critic. He also happens to be a 13-year-old from Boston.
We talked with Lane about his website, KidCriticUSA.com. Speaking like a seasoned business pro, Lane revealed how he got started, how he handles his clients, and how he reacted after getting a phone call from Forbes Magazine.
See what Lane is up to at LaneSutton.com or you can follow him on Twitter (@KidCriticUSA).
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Q: How did you get a knack for entrepreneurship so early?
A: I had been inspired by my father, who is an entrepreneur himself. He’s a disc jockey, so he plays music for events and mixes. I was pretty amazed that someone could make money by doing what they love. That’s exactly what my father does. So, I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was five years old.
It all started when I went to my local newspaper company and I took a tour of the newsroom. It made me want to write my own little newsletter or newspaper. So, I came home and I think I was up writing until two in the morning.
I compiled a bunch of news stories and I rewrote them, adding my own little twists. Then I printed it out and distributed it to local family and friends. I think I charged two dollars. But, I loved doing it. I was getting paid to write about things that I was interested in. I just loved having my own business built around a passion or a hobby. That continued for a bit. Then I wrote a few books and that’s kind of when everything sprung up.
Q: What sets you apart from any other 13-year-old?
A: Certainly the part about [starting a business] as a five-year-old. Business is something that I truly love. But the reason I started is that I love to write. I write for my website and run all of my business operations myself.
When people meet me, they’re like, “Whoa – this kid is 13? Why isn’t he on the playground, playing sports, or doing regular activities?” They go out of their minds sometimes. They just don’t understand it, because they don’t realize that this is what I really like to do.
I think that’s what sets me apart at school. I excel at business, numbers, and I love using technology. A lot of teens spend a lot of time texting, just in their own little world. Or they’re surrounded by friends and just hanging out. Why not get ahead and take a leap in their future?
Q: What do your friends think?
A: My friends will go home and check out my website. Then they come to school and say, “That was really you writing? I mean, come on! Dude, you’re 13 years old.” I also contribute to my local newspaper now and I write about some happenings at our school. So I’ll bring in some copies that have been published for my teachers to see, especially my language arts teacher. She’s just amazed.
My family was amazed when I got the call from Forbes Magazine. I had responded to a HARO query (HelpAReporter.com) and Forbes just called me. I was actually riding my bike and when I came home, I checked my phone. I ran upstairs and listened to the message probably like three times. Then I ran downstairs and told my parents.
[My family] was just amazed by what could happen with web and email. I couldn’t believe it either – because getting into one of those publications has been one of my lifelong dreams. My family has always been very supportive and they’ve given me advice – especially my dad, since he’s been running his own business for a while now.
Q: What would you tell an up-and-coming entrepreneur?
A: If you’re interested in entrepreneurship, then start early. It’s the best thing you can do. It’s what I did and I’ve already learned so much at a young age. I can even teach adults and speak to adults at speaking engagements. They haven’t heard of this stuff with social media.
I’d even tell adults to start early. They could be working for corporate America or something, but they have a passion that they haven’t [pursued]. If their passion is painting, they could sell paintings. So, whatever you’re doing, start early.
Q: How should someone get started?
A: Dream your idea. Start brainstorming. Food is really easy [to get into]. You always need that. Clothing is big as well. We need office supplies, school supplies. So you can kind of think of your category. Then, use test groups. Maybe you’ll give the product to them for free, so you can get some good feedback for improvement.
Then do market research. You could give a survey in your school to see if the students are interested in your product. Look at some competitors, like local businesses. If they’re public and they have a stock, take a look. See how it’s doing. You can find a lot of the information online and then you can see if the product is really in need.
Q: You’ve got a big vision. Where do you go from here?
A: My goal is to be the CEO of a large technology company. I want to be the next Apple, Inc. I have to work from the bottom.
If you want to get to the top, then you start at the lowest point. That could be an engineer, a call center person, or whatever it may be. Then you have to go up. You might become a senior engineer. Once you get to the top, you probably go from vice president to senior vice president and then you finally reach CEO of the company.
Q: You were one of the first people to purchase our book. What is your honest critique?
A: I’ve only read the first couple interviews, because I have my bookcase full of books that I’ve been wanting to read. I was inspired by Emil Motycka. He mows lawns and I don’t mow lawns, but I was shocked at how he could earn [$135K his senior year of high school]. Most people couldn’t even do that until they’re 30.
I was inspired by how he could have that many clients and still balance life. Sometimes I have trouble balancing. Homework comes first. After I’ve finished my homework, which could be right after dinner, I could be working from 6 to 9. If I don’t have homework, I’ll be working the second I get home.
I know what you’re thinking… Yes, Lane is only 13 years old. I’ve come across Lane’s site a few times in my entrepreneurial perusings and I was blown away when I saw that he bought our book! He already has a remarkable story and I can’t wait to see where he goes from here. You can get into contact with Lane or find more information about him at: