Entrepreneur Tips From a 9 y/o

If you woke up this morning needing some side hustle motivation, you came to the right spot.

I was forwarded this incredible story last week about a kid and his arcade made solely out of cardboard and tape, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. Which means it’s something that probably needs to get stuck in your mind too :)

If you have 11 minutes to spare, I hope you can watch this video – you won’t be disappointed:

Here’s the highlights if you can’t watch it right now:

  • Kid makes a fully functioning arcade out of cardboard boxes
  • No one buys a single ticket to play for months
  • He continues to build out the arcade even more
  • A random videographer stops by and becomes his first customer
  • He’s blown away and stages a flash mob to make this kid’s day
  • A crap load of people show up and buy tickets to play
  • It’s all filmed and goes viral hitting 1,000,000 views in 24 hours (it’s at 4.6 million now)
  • The scholarship fund the videographer set up reaches $60,000 in one day (later hitting $240,000)
  • The kid is so happy you want to cry :) (Like the bodyguard of President Clinton did)

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it all went down two years ago and you probably remember hearing something about it. Unless you’re like me who tends to ignore the media (too much garbage!) and thus misses out on greatness like this as well (oops).

Anyways, after being sucked into this kid’s story and all this videographer (Nirvan Mullick) did for him, I hit up their blog about it and spent even more time grinning from ear to ear. I learn that this dynamic duo tours the world giving motivational and entrepreneurial speeches, that people have since flown in from all around the world to play Caine’s games (even celebrities!), that an “Imagination Foundation” has been launched to inspire creativity and entrepreneurship among kids, and that Caine’s since retired from the arcade to focus on starting a new bike shop at 11 years old :)

Doesn’t he make us feel lazy! Haha…

But not to fret, I also came across his 5 lessons for entrepreneurs so that we can all follow in his footsteps. Written (hilariously) on a barf bag while flying to France to speak at the Canne’s Lions International Festival of Creativity – which made him the youngest speaker ever there.

cain entrepreneur lessons

Here’s Caine’s 5 tips for entrepreneurs

  1. Be nice to customers.
  2. Do a business that is fun.
  3. Do not give up.
  4. Start with what you have.
  5. Use recycled stuff.

Simple and to the point :) And what a mantra for side hustling too! If you look at the 50+ hustles we’ve featured here over the years, you’ll notice most of them were done by people who thoroughly enjoy what they do as well. Which always bodes better for making $$.

In fact, this blog started out as pure hobby in itself. I had no idea you could make money blogging (I barely knew what a blog was!) and just had fun doing my thang and happened to get lucky. Prob not the best course of action if you’re setting out to make $$$, haha, but it still shows that passion is key.

Let’s see if I follow these 5 tips now that my hobby turned businessy*

  1. Being nice to customers. I think I’m nice to y’all? But you tell me :)
  2. Doing a business that’s fun. Check. (Except for when the internet crashes)
  3. Not giving up. Definitely a check! I blogged every day, M-F for 6 years straight without missing a day. And even at 3x a week now I’m still going strong, though I admit it’s tougher the less you write because you add more pressure to yourself.
  4. Starting with what I had – Yup! A crappy Blogger site (remember them?) and a mess of $$ thoughts in my head. All I knew is that I enjoyed thinking about money and sharing ideas, and thought a blog would be a good avenue to brain dump on. We all have a story to share, but it would take me years to figure out what that is.
  5. Using recycled stuff. Not very applicable here outside of using an old laptop I used to have, but certainly the topic of money in itself has been regurgitated over and over again in different ways, haha… the principles of money never change!

I bet if we ran these rules against some of our own favorite companies they’d match up pretty well too. At least in the beginning stages of their growth.

The takeaway from all this, of course, is that any of us can go out and start a biz so long as we’re passionate enough and apply ourselves. We may not hit overnight internet success as Caine did (though he’s proved that if you work your a$$ off and don’t give up it’s possible!), but we’ll each succeed in our own unique ways.

We just have to want it bad enough.

To learn more about this rock star, hit up CainesArcade.com or watch the follow up video Nirvan put out on what’s happened since (check out all the games he inspired other kids to make! Incredible!). Hope this motivates you today :)

PS: It’s also fair to say that Nirvan is quite the hustler too – he saw something amazing to him and then poured in the energy to share it with the world. So another takeaway here is to always keep your eyes open for opportunity! Never know how many gems are just waiting to be discovered by you…

*As much as I’d love the money turning this blog into 100% business, I would hate doing it (and you’d hate reading this) so I continue treating it as half hobby/half business. This is why I always have a slew of other income streams going on – so I can make up for the hobby part ;)

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  1. Slackerjo April 13, 2015 at 5:49 AM

    That kid is smart about verifying the fun pass!

    1. J. Money April 13, 2015 at 10:54 AM

      Right? I would have never figured that out :)

  2. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank April 13, 2015 at 5:52 AM

    Caine is unbelievably talented! This kid is really a child wonder. I hope my kids would be like him.

  3. MyMoneyDesign April 13, 2015 at 6:12 AM

    Its amazing how even the simple principles of a young child can still apply to our business efforts as adults. It really does go to show you learned everything you’ll ever need in Kindergarten.

  4. Mrs. Frugalwoods April 13, 2015 at 6:37 AM

    Sounds like pretty solid business advice to me! Especially the part about not giving up. Oh and the part about being nice to people. You know, all of it!

  5. Dee @ Color Me Frugal April 13, 2015 at 7:14 AM

    Love this! It completely cracks me up that his 5 principals of entrepreneurship were written on a barf bag!!

  6. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom April 13, 2015 at 7:23 AM

    That kid is incredible! The calculators, the ticket dispensing, never giving up, just awesome!

    Growing up my sister made a fair in our backyard. I think she charged the kid down the street to a quarter to race himself in our backyard. That was before the internet though, so she didn’t get her chance to inspire…

    1. J. Money April 13, 2015 at 10:55 AM

      haha…. I wish us adults were as creative and full of vigor. We get so jaded in the “real” world.

  7. Nicola April 13, 2015 at 8:40 AM

    This kid is awesome! I find it so funny that his tips are written on a barf bag :) shows you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

  8. John @ Frugal Rules April 13, 2015 at 8:42 AM

    This is awesome! It just goes to show you that following some simple and very smart basics can really take you somewhere if you’re doing it right. It challenges me to encourage our kiddos even more when it comes to their interests.

  9. Jon @ Money Smart Guides April 13, 2015 at 8:59 AM

    Great stuff! It’s a shame how we lose our imagination and try to make things more difficult as we age. A 9 year old just showed us how easy it is to start a business – all you have to do is follow some basic guidelines. Many adults never start a business because they are worried about X, Y, and Z.

    1. J. Money April 13, 2015 at 10:56 AM

      I know :( On one hand it’s good that we’re so cautious since we have life experiences to help guide us, but then on the other we never go after $hit! I think I’m gonna just ask myself “What would Caine do?” from now on ;)

  10. Kate@GoodnightDebt April 13, 2015 at 9:07 AM

    What a cool story! Great advice too! I love it when the internet uses its power for good :)

    1. J. Money April 13, 2015 at 10:58 AM

      YES. So much JUNK out there – that’s why I typically ignore all media/main sites. And probably why I missed this story back in the day, d’oh.

  11. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar April 13, 2015 at 9:11 AM

    That post-it note is literally my whole eBay business! This kid is awesome.

  12. zut April 13, 2015 at 9:30 AM

    I was at a school charity benefit last year and Nirvan Mullick was the guest speaker. He showed us the Caine’s Arcade video. Very cool stuff.

    1. J. Money April 13, 2015 at 10:58 AM

      Wowwww – so cool! I would LOVE to hear his story and talks in person. I bet it’s crazy motivating.

  13. Laurie Py April 13, 2015 at 9:49 AM

    I also live in a bubble and totally missed this story! Thank you for sharing it! I feel like everyone can learn something from this. Caine is an amazing kid, and Nirvan gets the cudos for taking the time to recognize that…and now they are both on top! Small gestures really do mean a lot. Sort of like compound interest! : )

    1. J. Money April 13, 2015 at 10:59 AM

      Look at you tying it back to finance :)

  14. Kim @ Money Under the Cushions April 13, 2015 at 9:50 AM

    Yeah – awesome kid. Awesome tips. I should print them out and hang them on my wall. :)

  15. EL April 13, 2015 at 10:41 AM

    I have to check the video out soon, but a kid who’s an entrepreneur like that is awesome. Most kids just want to watch TV and chill, but he’s doing a lot more than most adults. Good Luck to him with his new bike business.

  16. Even Steven April 13, 2015 at 12:18 PM

    I always like “Kids say the darnedest things”, reminds me to just keep things simple, I mean adults try to complicate everything.

  17. Professor April 13, 2015 at 2:51 PM

    This is so inspirational. His five recommendations are great. I hadn’t heard of this until now, so thanks for sharing!

  18. maria@moneyprinciple April 13, 2015 at 3:34 PM

    What a wonderful story. And I hit four out of five principles – the one with the recycled stuff is tough.

    1. J. Money April 14, 2015 at 11:19 AM

      You’ll have to buy a recycled car for your taxi business ;)

  19. Elise @ Simply Scaled Down April 13, 2015 at 4:52 PM

    Love this on so many levels. I think as a parent I love the joy and passion of a child doing work they believe in, and as an entrepreneur it gives hope that if a 9 year old can follow his dream, so can I (and I can drown my sorrows with wine if i can’t :))

    1. J. Money April 14, 2015 at 11:20 AM

      Haha, yes – much more fun to drown in than chocolate milk :)

  20. Shannon @ Financially Blonde April 13, 2015 at 4:59 PM

    Alright, here I thought my 9 year old was doing awesome because he opened up his first investment account this year and funded it with $1,000 of money he saved himself. Now I need to tell him that he’s a slacker and he needs to work on at least two other streams of income.

    1. Master Nerd April 16, 2015 at 2:31 PM

      LOL! Better crack the whip! Very impressive he was able to save so much and had the foresight to invest it (no doubt thanks to you). Random question, how does that work with taxes for someone underage? Do you have to pay them?

    2. Master Nerd April 16, 2015 at 2:38 PM

      I remember seeing this when it came out, but it’s still such an incredibly inspirational story. I think as we get older we become too paralyzed by fear to follow our dreams. I have aspirations to start a business eventually, so hopefully I will be able to realize that some day. Caine is a good reminder that success is all a mental game. If you can get past fear and be persistent, you can accomplish incredible things. It will be interesting to see where his career goes in the long run.

    3. The Roamer April 16, 2015 at 10:29 PM

      Awe don’t do that!

      Your kids amazing to have done that!

      So this story…. Made me cry. So inspiring.

      And don’t worry J.money you have the recycling going. I mean this story itself is recycled


      1. J. Money April 17, 2015 at 1:16 PM

        @ The Roamer — Yup! We gotta keep on recycling it too – the world needs to see this :)

        @ Master Nerd — That’s a great question about underage taxes! I wanna say it *all* needs to be reported but I’m no expert and I guarantee a huge % of the population doesn’t do it… Keep in mind too that even when you report stuff it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gonna owe any taxes. I think the gov’t just wants to know?

  21. Pengepugeren April 13, 2015 at 5:55 PM

    I love how Caine validates the tickets (Fun Pass) buy using the “checkmark” (square root)! That’s one smart boy :)

  22. Kalie April 13, 2015 at 6:35 PM

    Very fun and inspiring. Do you think certain people are born with an entrepreneurs’ spirit? Sure seems like it. Not that others can’t develop the drive and skills, but when you hear about kids like this it’s just incredible and they seem to have a knack. Like superbusinessgirl.com.

    1. J. Money April 14, 2015 at 11:26 AM

      Yeah, I’m sure lots of kids are born with it but still doesn’t mean others can’t go out and rock it. I think MOST kids come up with business ideas at some point, but then it’s up to their surroundings to help push them one way or the other. Namely parents and family. You could tell this dude’s dad was super encouraging and helping him go, whereas others might not have been so attentive to such things. You can bet your sweet ass I’ll be to my boys! I’ve already got them counting and playing with coins at 11 mos and 2 1/2 – haha…

      Hadn’t heard of Super Business Girl before but totally clicking over to check out! Sounds intriguing!

  23. Christine @ The Pursuit of Green April 14, 2015 at 4:52 PM

    Caine is amazing!!!!! I can’t believe I missed this story 2 years ago! Thanks J$ for bringing this up in your post! Like you I tend to sometimes keep my head down. I miss the good and the bad.

  24. The Money Spot April 15, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    What a wonderful story and a great kid!!

  25. Jason B April 15, 2015 at 6:28 PM

    That kid is motivated than some adults. He’s the man!

    1. J. Money April 17, 2015 at 1:13 PM

      hah – yup!