Teen skips college debt, takes business plunge
This article was first published in the April edition of Today Magazine, our monthly publication
By Elijah Livingston — Special to Today Magazine
I AM NOT THE TYPICAL Simsbury High School graduate. While I enjoyed my educational experience, I knew that college was not going to be my path.
I was very fortunate to go to a high school that offered entrepreneurial studies and other classes that taught life skills. I have always been interested in starting a business and even started a few when I was in school. I mowed lawns for a few summers and as a senior in high school printed and sold custom T-shirts.
This past fall was stressful for me. I graduated in June 2021, and all of my friends were talking about where they were going to college.
While I knew I didn’t want to go to college, I wasn’t sure of what I was going to do. Thankfully, I had parents who were open to alternative paths for me.
My parents and I often talked about getting a small business loan to buy a business instead of a loan to get a college degree. We learned that the Pet Stop dealership in Connecticut was for sale and reached out for more information.
I shadowed the owner for a couple weeks to get a feel for the business, and I loved it. I love how the business combines my love for dogs and helps keep other people’s dogs safe as well.
In a coincidence, my parents told me that Pet Stop basically saved my dog Rosie’s life. Rosie was constantly running away because the hidden electric fence system that we had installed 10 years ago was poorly made from cheap parts and was unreliable. She would escape often and more than once was almost hit by a car.
About a year ago, after Rosie’s latest close call with a car, my parents decided it was time to switch to Pet Stop since their products are made in the United States and because it is the safest, most reliable system available.
Once we installed it, Rosie never escaped again. We were very impressed by the Pet Stop products and how they saved our dog’s life.
The process of buying the company took about four months, and there were some stressful moments and sleepless nights for me and my parents! It’s no joke that they asked me at least 20 times: Are you sure you want to do this … you can still back out of the purchase if you want.
"I am so excited about what the future holds for me, and hopefully my story can inspire other young adults to look at other options besides college." — Elijah Livingstone
While I was nervous and scared, I know that you must take chances in life. Some will be successful, and some will be failures. I have heard it said, “If you’re not failing, you’re not taking big enough risks!”
We took over the business this year in January, and I am working a ton of hours every week but I absolutely love it. I believe many high school students and their parents would benefit from hearing about my journey as an option to college and the real-world experience I am gaining.
I have learned many things over the past few months — including setting up an LLC and a DBA, applying for an SBA loan, registering for various accounts to do business in Connecticut, and so much more. These are things that I would have never had the opportunity to do in college.
I am so excited about what the future holds for me, and hopefully my story can inspire other young adults to look at other options besides college. +
Pet Stop of Connecticut — aka CT Pet Fence — is based in Simsbury