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(Courtesy of Jonathan Bell)

Missouri teen turns rejection into success by starting his own business

If you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em. After being turned down for jobs by 17 fast-food restaurants, a St. Louis teen decided to start his own business.

“It got pretty tiring,” Jonathan Bell, 17, says. “So that’s when I decided to start my own thing.”

Bell said he always knew he had the spirit to work for himself in the future. However, he didn’t know that it would be before the age of 18. With some experience in marketing, combined with educating himself in learning algorithms and how social media truly works, Bell launched his own business at the onset of the pandemic in April 2020. With a mission to help small companies get through the pandemic and survive the unpredicted, he took charge of managing their social media accounts, online marketing, search engine optimization and web design.

“I wanted to make an impact on business owners’ lives, providing the highest quality of services while maintaining a healthy business relationship,” Bell said. “I’ve grown my company and now have five employees to help me out,” he said. “I worked with 15-plus small companies in 2021. What I consider success is knowing I’m an asset to other companies and not just my own.”

Although Bell’s natural prowess with tech and professionalism has served him well, it was always going to take hard work, and there were challenges along the way because of his age. “I did get turned down at times, but I never let that get to me,” he said. “I did convince some companies, but some didn’t even hesitate to give me a try.”

For Bell, becoming a young entrepreneur “feels amazing,” as he inspires other teens and younger people. He also has inspiring words for his peers.

“Never tell anyone you’re too young to start a business, not even your parents,” he said. “We are the generation that’s going to change the world; no one is stopping you but yourself. Break that habit, live, learn and love what you’re doing. It’s working for me, and it can you.”

As for what’s in the pipeline, Bell said he wants to “build a strong local presence here in my area, innovating companies and maintaining a powerful footprint.”

Anita Widaman | Metro Voice