Wells's company, which keeps clients such as Sony and MGA Entertainment updated on the latest trends among young buyers, is worth more than $5 million.
The start of a great thing: "At 16 I began writing product reviews for a newspaper called The New Girl Times. In return I got free products from more than 40 companies. After three months, I brought in ten of my friends to help me—and to share the freebies."
Lightbulb moment: "I talked to the director of marketing of a company for which I'd written up a really cool report. She said she'd just paid someone $25,000 to do what I'd done—and that I had done it better. I was like, 'People get paid for this?' I got my first paying client my freshman year in college."
Making her mark: "Until I graduated, I had trouble getting taken seriously as a businesswoman. So I started putting out research that was different from what everybody else was doing: It was more informative, and it was sexy and scandalous. For instance, I wrote a report saying we interviewed 500 kids, and 99 percent of them said they illegally downloaded music and were not going to stop. We also did surveys about sex and religion, things people wanted to know about but were too scared to ask. We now have 9,000 teenage and young adult 'buzzspotters' who scope out what their peers are thinking and doing."
Imelda Marcos doesn't live here: "I love shoes and Louis Vuitton bags, but as much as I indulge, I also tell myself, 'No, this money has to go back into my business.' I have a special teen advisory board, in addition to the buzzspotters, that's a huge part of our success, so I spend on training seminars for them. Entrepreneurs don't realize that while they may have gotten a client and made an extra $100,000, it has to be reinvested so it can make another $500,000."
Building Your Nest Egg
For every woman who earns $100,000 or more, there are four men. The annual median earnings for a man working full time is $40,668. For a woman, it's $30,724. That's almost 25 percent less. Women should do what men do: Make the money! Follow these cardinal rules.