Interview with young entrepreneur Matthew Turcotte (16)
Matthew: I am the owner of North Shore Web Development. My company creates professional and affordable websites for individuals, organizations, and businesses. We also offer web hosting and domain name registration through the new division of the company called Host North Shore.
My website online at: www.northshorewebdevelopment.com
My hosting division at: www.hostnorthshore.com
Cristian: I know you are a young entrepreneur, so how old are you?
Matthew: I am currently 16 years old and am a junior in high school.
Cristian: How did you come up with the idea to start a business?
Matthew: About 3 years ago, my uncle was running for county sheriff and asked me for assistance with a website for h is campaign. I agreed and with a little research I was able to get his site up within a few weeks. A few weeks later, I was at church when the local Town Supervisor came up to me and asked me what I had been up to. I told him about the website that I had helped my uncle with and he mentioned to me that the local town was interested in having web renovations done for their website. After a few months of work and research I had the Town’s website completed. Creating websites was fun and I loved being paid to work in my own home. It has been to dream to run my own business since the 1st grade, and I saw this as an opportunity to work for myself and be an entrepreneur.
Cristian: How did your business get off the ground?
Matthew: By word of mouth, I received call after call from other organizations and businesses that wanted assistance with websites. They had heard of me through the Town’s site. It made sense to start my own business, so I went out and got a business license and opened a business checking account in the name of the business.
Cristian: What is your target customer?
Matthew: My business deals mostly with individuals, organizations, or businesses that want to make their presence better known and who want to communicate with their community and/or their customers better.
Cristian: But how do you deal with high school and work?
Matthew: This year I really wanted to focus on my business and making it work well. For the most part, I left many of the other clubs and activities I was involved with in order to focus on the business. This really doesn’t bother me though. I love working for myself and I love my job and the people I get to meet and work with. I usually come home every night and work for a few hours or so and then work on homework.
Cristian: What happens if you have an exam and a site to finish?
Matthew: I always try to plan ahead and budget my time wisely so that doesn’t happen. If a client had a tight deadline and needed a site done the day I had an exam, I would definitely stay up all night and finish it. My clients mean everything to me.
Cristian: How important is family support for a young entrepreneur?
Matthew: My family has been very helpful and it has certainly made things easy for me. My parents have been very supportive and have always driven me to any meetings that I had to go to and have even helped with some of the expenses.
Cristian: Any plans to expand the current business?
Matthew: In the following months, I am planning to do a lot of marketing through the local newspapers, a local business magazine, ads in the newspaper, and perhaps even the tv news. I have looked into getting more subcontractors to further assist me with my workload.
Cristian: Do you think your business is suitable only for small towns like yours or it can be applied anywhere?
Matthew: The internet has changed the way we communicate, advertise ourselves and do business. Individuals, and especially organizations and businesses of any size and in any location can benefit from a website. A website allows for millions of people to access and learn about the principles of an organization and their goals or what products a business sells and allows them to purchase them.
Cristian: What do customers say when they find out you are so young?
Matthew: I usually make initial contact with my clients over the phone or by e-mail. Usually I do end up meeting my clients at some point and when they do meet me they find it hard to believe that I’m 16 and a junior in high school.
Cristian: How do you deal with the legal aspects of running a business? Who helps you with contracts, paying taxes, and so on?
Matthew: I did a lot of research myself as to how to run my own business and I learned from the help of books and friends how to legally get started. I currently have contracts that are still in their draft form that cover all the details that are included in a website and with hosting. I have a good friend and neighbor who does taxes for individuals and businesses who is very good. He actually does my parent’s taxes.
Cristian: Can you name a few happy customers?
Matthew: To name a few, a local entrepreneur who wanted a website for his new vineyard. He liked the work I had done and hired me for several other projects. The town supervisor was also very happy with the website work I had done for the Town.
Cristian: What was the initial investment you did to start the business?
Matthew: I had to buy software in order to create the websites and they was about $500 and my computer had some problems with the graphics card and I had to pay $200 to repair it. So really, the expenses were low.
Cristian: What are the sites, social networks or groups a young entrepreneur should join or follow to get advice?
Matthew: Shonika Proctor has helped me tremendously. She has a website dedicated to helping teen entrepreneurs and has written a book. Her website is: teenentrepreneurblog.com
Cristian: How does it feel to start your own business and make money on your own at 16?
Matthew: It is a great experience. I absolutely love being able to set my own schedule and work for myself. There is so much freedom that I have. I am my own boss and I have passion for what I do. It’s a dream job.