From running nail salons to a bakery to a law firm, these young entrepreneurs got an early start in making their way in the business world.

Alex Tao, 24

Jeff Okita, 24

Six Taste, Los Angeles, a company that organizes restaurant tours of neighborhoods

Employees: 16

Financials: $240,000 in revenue for 2010.

What led you to start your own company?

Tao: Ever since I was I young, I’ve always tried to do things differently, in almost stubborn fashion. This resulted in learning a lot of things the hard way when I could have just accepted conventional wisdom. I eventually developed my own analytical and improvement process for everything I dealt with growing up. This was particularly useful in anything competitive I did, such as sports and especially video games. This type of free thinking and on-the-fly adjustment is generally not encouraged in typical job settings that seem to stifle such creativity. It seemed only natural for me to start work as an entrepreneur where I would have the most freedom.

How many hours a day do you put in?

Honestly, I have no idea because we don’t keep track. Some days I’ll work only a few hours; others I’ll work the entire day. I’ll go with the answer: however many hours it takes.

Does your youth lead to awkward situations, such as when you supervise older workers?

Luckily, our company is composed of a relatively young generation. So when it comes to our staff, awkward situations due to age difference are not that common. When dealing with restaurants, though, it does feel a bit strange on occasion but not uncomfortable.

What was the most important lesson you learned?

Okita: I learned that long-term forecasts in a rapidly growing business can be extremely inaccurate. The conditions of your business change so often that a projection more than three months into the future is not much more accurate than a shot in the dark.

Does your youth lead to awkward situations, such as when you supervise older workers?

I’m always the youngest person at networking events or meetings. Sometimes I’ll go into a meeting and I get mistaken for an intern or an entry level employee in my company. I’m also often underestimated, but I see that as an advantage.

Will you start another company?

Absolutely. Six Taste has been a perfect playground for entrepreneurship, and I have learned a lot of lessons. I am excited at the prospect of starting a diverse set of businesses and experimenting with different business models.

What do you do to relax?

I love stories, so I read and watch movies. I also like to have long conversations over coffee about how we can change the world.

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