Thirteen-year-old Natalie started her first business, called Toy Tossers, last May. “I guess you could say I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” she said with a smile. But nothing really seemed right until she decided to create a line of dog toys. Natalie disliked walking her German Shepherd Margo, so she invented a toy-on-a-stick that provides a dog with plenty of exercise while the owner can relax. “Margo loved it, and my friend encouraged me to sell them to other dog owners, too,” said Natalie.
In a short time, Natalie’s business had a name, a logo, an e-commerce website, business cards, and customers. But, Natalie wasn’t sure about how reach her goals: growing her business even more and making $500 in profit. That’s when she turned to the YouthBiz Mentor Program, which pairs adult business leaders with up-and-coming young entrepreneurs.
YouthBiz partnered Natalie with Cory Johnson, Operations Manager at Zenith Painting and Coatings in Centennial, a match that has benefited both business owners. Over the last few months, Cory has helped Natalie think about her business story and how she can distinguish herself from other pet businesses. He’s encouraged her to seek a patent for her product and to modify her website so that it better features the person behind the business. “Having a mentor has helped me so much,” said Natalie.
The Mentorship program only requires two meetings, but Cory and Natalie have met three times in the last six months and plan to continue. At a recent collaboration at the Zenith offices in Centennial, Cory brought in business partner Kaler Hendrix and their colleague Jeremiah Broz, CEO of Energy Advantage Roofing and Solar, to go through Toy Tosser’s finances. After diving in to the balance sheet, Jeremiah concluded, “So, it looks like you need to sell 64 units to make $500 this year.” Cory added, “I think you’re selling yourself short here–I believe you could make even more if you wanted to!”
Cory started Zenith with business partner Kaler Hendrix almost 10 years ago, and he enjoys the inspiration and perspective he gains by mentoring Natalie. “I really wish I had a mentor when I was first starting out–it would have saved us so much money,” laughs Cory. “Coaching is just a lot of fun.”
If you’re looking for someone to help you with your business, check out the eligibility requirements and available mentors on our website. Business leaders are anxiously awaiting their chance to make your business even better!