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SPI 597: How This 12-Year-Old Built and Sold His First Business

When I was at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego earlier this year, I heard something that just blew me away. A friend of mine, Brian Dixon, came up to me and told me the story of how his son had built his first business and sold it for $15,000 three months later. And here’s the best part, his son was only ten years old at the time!

You’re likely thinking the same thing I was thinking — “What kind of a lemonade stand is this?!”

Today on the show, we get the complete story and a heavy dose of inspiration from Ryland Dixon himself. Ryland is now twelve years old, and he joins me on the show to give us a wonderful inside look at his membership site,

You’ll get to hear how Ryland came up with his business idea, and we talk about the challenges and lessons learned along the way. That’s not all, though. We also get a first look at Ryland’s new venture, Kid Business Club. That’s right, he already has something else in the works, and the way he’s thinking about promoting this new business is insanely creative.

Ryland is a super smart kid and I love everything he has to say. This is a fun interview and an inspiring episode for us all, no matter what age we are. Enjoy!

Today’s Guest

Ryland Dixon

At 10 years old, Ryland started his own membership site which he sold just three months later. Now 12 years old, he has teamed up with his 10-year-old sister to help other kids start and grow their businesses in the Kid Business Club. Ryland loves Lego, reading, and playing music. He and his family live in Charlotte, North Carolina.

You’ll Learn


SPI 597: How This 12-Year-Old Built and Sold His First Business

Pat Flynn: So, I was at an event earlier this year, Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. A friend of mine, Brian Dixon, came up to me. Hadn’t seen him in years because of COVID and the pandemic. And, you know, we just hadn’t crossed paths in a while. And he came up to me and he says, Pat, I have to tell you something really cool. And I was like, “What, Brian?” And he said that his son who is 12 now, but at the age of 10 was able to build and sell his first business. And I was like, “What, what is this? Like, what kind of lemonade stand is this?” And he was like, it’s funny, you mentioned that, cuz we were thinking of doing that. And then he told me this story and I was blown away and I was like, all right, I gotta invite this kid onto the podcast to inspire us, to tell us how he did it and to just get in his mind a little bit.

So you’re not actually gonna hear from Brian today. You’re gonna hear from his son Ryland. Ryland Dixon, who is now 12 years old. He’s gonna tell us a story about how he created and sold it, and his next business venture. Just super smart kid. I love everything he has to say. So I hope you enjoy this episode.

This is session 597 of the Smart Passive Income podcast. And if you have kids or have anybody who, you know, who might get inspired by this, please share it with them. This will be a fun one. So here he is Ryland Dixon.

Announcer: Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later.

And now your host, he’s most creatively productive in two places, in his car and in the shower. Pat Flynn!

Pat Flynn: Ryan welcome to the Smart Passive Income podcast. Thanks for being here. Ryland, for everybody listening. Can you tell us how old you are? Cuz I think that’s gonna make this really special.

Ryland Dixon: I am 12 years old today.

Pat Flynn: Today?! Today’s your birthday? No way! Yo, happy birthday to you. I, I had no clue that that was the case, which is really cool, but also you’re here on a business podcast to talk business, what experience have you had with business Ryland?

Ryland Dixon: I have started and sold my own business and I have an idea to make a new one with my dad and probably my sister.

Pat Flynn: Nice. Okay. 12 years old. You’ve already started a business. Many people listening to this are much older and have not even started yet.

So I’d love to learn about how you got. And you’ve sold your business and mm-hmm, , you know, I’ve, I’ve sold a couple, but not very big ones. And that’s like a dream for some people. How were you able. So, okay. We need to start at the beginning. What was this business? The one that you sold, like, how did it start?

I need, I need to know.

Ryland Dixon: Okay. So COVID happened and I could not hang out with my friends because I school was canceled and they all lived pretty far away from my house. Right. And so my friend’s mom and my mom have an idea to create like this group chat thing, where we have like this Lego contest.

Sending these there’s like you have to build a certain kind of Lego build and then we all send it in. We vote on each other’s and then whoever the winner is, gets to pick what the next challenge is. So that summer I was talking with my dad about like starting lemonade stand or something.

And he was like, well, that could work, but like online websites are, are way better. And so he showed me how to make a website with Kajabi. So I made a website and I was like, Hey, what if I use the Lego contest idea as like a membership site? So we incorporated the Bible too. So basically the membership site is that I tell a Bible story every week. And then all the members, they get to build a Lego build that is based on the story. Then they all vote on each other’s and the winner got like an Amazon Lego target gift card or something.

Pat Flynn: That’s so cool. What was the name of that business, when you created the website?

Ryland Dixon: It’s called Bible Builds.

Pat Flynn: Bible builds. That is fantastic. Did you come up with that name?

Ryland Dixon: Yeah, it was originally gonna be called Bible Builders, but that was already taken

Pat Flynn: Ah, okay. So you built the website and you used Kajabi, which is great. Was that hard? Like you had never done it before. What was maybe the most challenging part about it for you?

Ryland Dixon: I think it was like all the links and stuff. I thought that was kind of confusing. Like where the one page went to the other page. Like when you click the button, it goes to the sign up page and you click the button and it goes. Yeah, that was kind of confusing.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, it can definitely be confusing. How about the logo? How did that get created?

Ryland Dixon: At first, it was just like this green Lego brick. We don’t really have a logo. It’s kind of just the word Bible Builds and then like three lines, I guess, yellow, blue, and a different shade of blue. As of now, we don’t really have a logo.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. I mean, that’s okay. Because, you know, I think of places like target, right. Target just has like a bullseye and then the word Target. Okay. How did you end up getting members into this thing? Right. It’s one thing to build a website, many people build websites. But it’s another thing to have people like find out about them.

How did you get people to find out about Bible builds?

Ryland Dixon: So my dad posted about it on like Facebook and Instagram and stuff. When I created it, I was 10 years old. And so everyone was like, whoa, a 10 year old is creating their own membership site. That sounds cool. And it was mostly like, homeschool moms that we were like reaching out to that were like, Hey, my kids would like this.

And so we got like two or three members maybe like a week after we created it. And so that was exciting when they joined.

Pat Flynn: So social media played a role in, you know, getting found, which is cool. But you had mentioned that this happened like during COVID. Right. So I think that when I think about this particular business, I mean, everybody’s at home. Everybody’s looking for things to do. Parents are going crazy because their kids are always at home and they want to keep them occupied, but don’t wanna just like put them in front of an iPad or something, right? Yeah. So what a perfect opportunity and a perfect way to sort of support parents and also give something fun for kids.

And it’s not just like here, go build this thing. There’s like a competition part of it too, which is really neat. So. Okay. That’s pretty awesome. Did you charge people to become a member or was this like a free thing?

Ryland Dixon: Yes, at first it was just $15 a month. So it was weekly videos. So you got about four videos for $15.

And when we got further into it, we made a one week free trial.

Pat Flynn: So, how did you deal with like all the technical things that were required to like run the contest and collect the images and like run the voting and stuff? Like, tell me about that.

Ryland Dixon: So we actually used Google forms and it worked okay. But the first time we did it, one of our members figured out how to cheat the system.

And so he got all his relatives to go onto the same Google form. He, by copying the link and they all voted for him and he got. 40 votes when there were only 10 members so we had to like make the form private and we had to say, you could only have one vote and stuff.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. So, I mean, you didn’t get it right the first time, but that’s okay. Right. You kind of figure things out as, as you go along, you think they’d be a little bit more clever and maybe just do a few votes, but not all 40, but yeah. I’m glad that that happened so that you could solve that problem. So how many members were you able to build this thing up to?

Ryland Dixon: So the highest we got to before I got a partner was 30 something members, but when things started opening back up and like people stopped worrying about COVID a little bit, people started going to like soccer practice and stuff. So I started canceling it. And so we got down to like eight members and people just stopped voting.

So only like two people used it. And I actually put in my own fake builds so that it seemed like there were a lot of people using it.

Pat Flynn: Ah, interesting. So at the highest point 30 members, that’s awesome. Because when you think about it, it’s like $15 per month, you said. That’s like $450 a month coming in and for a 12 year old that’s I mean, you just found riches that’s that’s crazy.

Yeah. But then, so tell me what your mindset was. What, what was your thought process when the membership started to dwindle down? Because I think a lot of people in that case would just go, oh, it’s over. It’s not gonna work anymore. And give up, others might try to find a way to fix it. Like what was going through your mind?

Ryland Dixon: We started telling more people about it, hoping that we’d get more members. Also, we kind of updated the website a little bit to like, make it cooler for people like, yeah.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. And then at the peak time that you were doing this, how many hours a week was it taking? Cause I think it’s important to consider, not just like how much money you’re making, but you know, how much time are you putting into this at that point?

Ryland Dixon: So basically like. Sundays. When I came home from church, it maybe took like one hour, I guess, maybe like 30 minutes. I went in the Bible and I read the story and then I rewrote it. So that five year olds would understand it. And then basically like another 30 minutes to like film it and edit it and stuff.

And then we posted the video the same Friday of that week.

Pat Flynn: Okay. So not too much time, actually. So four to six hours per month. That’s a pretty good billing rate there as far as you know, that’s, that’s concerned. So that’s, that’s great. Now you had mentioned that like a partner came on board at some point, like tell me that story and cuz of ultimately, you know, you sold some or all, or I don’t know the full story. You, you tell me what happened.

Ryland Dixon: Okay. So on Instagram or Facebook, this guy, Jeff Bethke, he heard about Bible Builds and he was interested in it cuz he has like three kids of his own and he’s really passionate about the Bible. And so he was like, this is a really good idea.

Instead of making his kids members, he reached out to my dad and he said, Hey, can I be your partner or something? Like, can I buy this business from you? I was super excited because it was my first business I had made. And someone’s already asking to be a partner in like eight weeks. And I was like super excited.

And so I kind of got to know him and he seemed pretty cool. So I said, yeah, and eventually we settled for, he got 80%, so, and I get 20%. So he’s doing most of the videos now. I still do some. And he gave me like $15,000, I think.

Pat Flynn: $15K?!

Ryland Dixon: Yeah. I was so excited. I was crazy.

Pat Flynn: That’s incredible. Congratulations.

I’m curious on how y’all landed at that number. Have you ever seen Shark Tank?

Ryland Dixon: Yeah, I really like Shark Tank.

Pat Flynn: And you know, when they go in there and they’re talking about valuations and all that kind of stuff, like it’s important to know what the value of the company is before you sell it or share a part of it.

And so, you know, there’s a lot of factors, right? A lot of people will take the annual revenue and then multiply it by three or five and then that’s the price, or, you know, there’s a lot of things. Many companies that actually are not even profitable, have a huge valuation because of what they think the company’s going to do in the future.

So tell me a little bit about how this person, if you know, uh, like how they landed on that number.

Ryland Dixon: They gave us a couple offers. Basically we had some offers and they had some offers. Basically. We just compromised.

Pat Flynn: Okay. So a lot of communication, a lot of back and forth. How many meetings do you say you would have, or did you have before, like a final decision after that initial one.

Ryland Dixon: A bunch of phone calls. We didn’t meet in person cuz he lives in Hawaii and. We live in North Carolina.

Pat Flynn: So literally opposite parts of the world. okay. So that’s cool. Now you had also mentioned that you didn’t say yes right away. Right? What were you like making sure in these conversations about this person, like for you? I mean, this is your business.

It’s a lot of people have a hard time thinking about selling their business, cuz their businesses like their business, like what was going through your head as far as. Letting another person in on this. Were you ever doubtful of that or fearful of anything related to that?

Ryland Dixon: Not really. It kind of took a while to figure out because I didn’t know what it would be like, because that was like every Sunday afternoon for me, I’d only do like 20% of it. And so yeah, I had to think about what it would be like.

Pat Flynn: Were you ever like, cuz you know, sometimes people buy businesses because they wanna do maybe not so great things with them. Like how did you ensure that this was like the right partner for you?

Ryland Dixon: He kind of explained what he was gonna do. Like he was gonna add an annual membership and like update the site and stuff. And I was like, yeah, that sounds cool. And so he kind of explained what he was gonna do and he did other cool stuff too.

Pat Flynn: Nice. And so how long have you been partnered with him? Like how long ago did, did the business sell?

Ryland Dixon: Yeah, like a year

Pat Flynn: and a half ago.

Yeah. Oh, so this was all in 2020 that this was happening? Yeah. Okay. So first of all, you cash out. Amazing. That’s incredible. What do you do after that? Like, what’s do you just like go to Disneyland or something and celebrate, or like, what did you do to celebrate?

Ryland Dixon: I remembered that I got an apple watch. That was super exciting because I always wanted to watch and I always wanted a phone and that’s like a mix of them.

Pat Flynn: Nice. I think it’s definitely important to reward yourself for a lot of the hard work that you do, but also, you know, be smart with that money. I’m not sure you guys are, have talked about how to invest and like do other things. And it sounds like there might be a second business coming. Tell me about your idea if you’re or whatever you’re comfortable sharing.

Ryland Dixon: Okay. So it’s called Kid Business Club and it’s for like kids probably like third grade to maybe fifth or sixth grade. And it explains to them that starting a business is way easier than they might think it. And it shows them how to do it, how to make a website, how to get the word out, all that stuff.

Pat Flynn: That’s really cool. Well, the school that my kids go to, they talk about business a lot too. And actually the entire third and fourth grade classes spend the whole year. I mean, they’re always learning about the things you should learn at school, but some, some of their projects involve them actually creating a business.

So let me know what you think of this, cuz maybe there’s some cool partnership or some way that you can influence others in your area since you have already sold the business. So what happens is everybody they group together and they come up with a business idea. Then they have to present that idea to a panel of sharks, just like Shark Tank.

Right. So you go in there and you make your pitch. And I remember because I was a judge for that a couple times. And what’s really interesting. And what I love about this is they only let a certain number of groups continue forward. And that’s how real life is. Right. Sometimes you get selected. Sometimes you don’t for the teams that don’t get selected they now have a job fair. So the businesses that do get through, they hire the other kids as employees, and now they can all work together to, at the end of the year, which is actually happening about a week from today, they’re going to sell their products. These are all physical products, cuz then they can like work on them together.

You have like the digital experience, which is awesome. But at the end of the year, the parents and the community, they all come together and the kids are at their stands, selling their slime or their fidget spinners or whatever they ended up making. There’s a lot of 3d printing happening. Uh, these days it seems, but a website and something digital is really unique.

I definitely think that this Kid Business Club is something worth going into. So where are you at with that? I’m curious.

Ryland Dixon: So far, we have the domain. We haven’t made any videos yet, but it’s gonna be a membership site. So they’re gonna be like videos. Just like Bible builds. And we’re also thinking about making like these novels that you can buy separately about the fictional Kid Business Club.

And they’re like all these characters and it’s like how they make their business and what problems they have kinda like Baby-Sitters Club or something like that. It’s like for the kids. So it’s gonna be. They’re gonna wanna keep reading it, but then also they’re gonna learn stuff about how to be successful with your business.

Pat Flynn: I love that. So that could be like a way that you could capture their attention first, just like through these books and stories. And then, you know, it sells into the membership after that, which I think is really genius. Tell me about the book, where are you going to put the book? So it gets found like, how are you gonna get it out?

Ryland Dixon: We’ll probably put it on the website. So like there’s the website where it has like the link for getting the subscription to the videos. Then you might put it on like Amazon, but then it could have a link to that. So probably on the same website that has the offer for the membership.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. You can put it in both spots. I think Amazon’s great because. Amazon has millions of people who look for books. Amazon has like a search engine. It has an algorithm. It has like people who bought this book also bought this book. Like there are multiple ways to get found on that. There’s even. A book, advertising agent or sort of platform on there.

So you can actually get your book in front of other people who are, I mean, there’s a lot of kids books out there, not, you know, specifically just like yours, but I know there’s a lot of books. Like, gosh, there, there was one book about like, what do you do with an idea? And some other books like that, that you could pop your book in front of with an ad to capture their attention.

And the cool thing happens with ads is if you know how much you’re spending, but you know, that. You need this many clicks of that ad to then get this many memberships, then you can get to a point, Ryland, where it’s essentially like, imagine a vending machine where you put in a quarter and then it gives you a dollar off the bottom.

And then you just take some of those quarters that that dollar can make and you put it back in the machine and it just, you know, the ads start paying for more memberships, which start paying for more ads, which start paying for more memberships. That could be a really fun sort of machine that you could build down the road, but you know, it all starts with solving a problem like, like you said, which I think is, is great. Amazing job. Well done.

What tips would you have for both kids and adults who are listing right now who wanna get started with their business and eventually get to the point where they could sell it off? Have a huge payday, but then move on to the next best thing that they’re interested in.

What would be like your pieces of advice for, for those starting out?

Ryland Dixon: Probably that you have to work to get results and not to give up. So like, if you’re not getting any results, then it probably means you’re not putting in as much energy and time as you could be. And when you’re not, don’t give up, just keep going, because to get something, you gotta give something.

Pat Flynn: That’s right. Absolutely. And persistence and consistency is really key and never giving up for sure. Because even if you don’t get it right, the first time you can get back up and try it again. And until you do get it right. And as often say, true failure is when you fail and then you don’t get up again and, and give it another shot.

So well done Ryland. I’m just super proud of you and everything that you and your dad and your family are doing. Uh, I think it’s gonna help a lot of people and I just wanna wish you the best of luck, man. I appreciate you coming on. And if there’s anything you ever need from me, happy to help out. If you ever need, like, some coaching or something, just let me know, happy to help guide you along the way. Cuz I, I love what you’re doing.

Ryland Dixon: Okay, great.

Pat Flynn: Thanks so much. And one more time, where can people go to see, you could send everybody listening to this to one place to come and like follow your work or you know, a website or something. Where, where would you recommend they go?

Ryland Dixon: Right now, it would be, but coming soon will be And I will be more of that than Bible Builds.

Pat Flynn: I like that. Ask for one, you gave me two and awesome. I love it. And you did it in a very genuine way too. Thank you so much.

A big shoutout to your dad, Brian. And he stopped me when we were together at Social Media Marketing World. And was just like, Pat, I gotta tell you about somebody doing something cool. Yeah. And, and that was you. So thank you again. Thank you to your dad and I wish you all the best.

Ryland Dixon: Thank you.

Pat Flynn: All right. So I hope you enjoyed that episode with Ryland and a big thank you to his father, Brian.

And Ryland, first of all amazing job doing an interview. I think you have a little bit of a natural talent there and keep doing it because you’re inspiring a lot of people and keep honing in on those storytelling skills and keep going with the businesses like, oh my gosh, this is super cool. So you heard the URLs, and coming soon, if not already out by the time this episode comes out and I just cannot wait to see what he has in store next.

So definitely check him. And a big thank you to the family and also to you for listening, this has been super fun. And I look forward to doing more of this in the future. And, you know, I know we interview people like Gary Vaynerchuk and Tim Ferris and all the like bigger names out there. But these are the kinds of stories that I appreciate most because it really helps us understand that there’s always gonna be opportunities out there.

And it doesn’t really matter what age you are. You just gotta take action and keep going and stay consistent. Just like Rylan said. So well done Rylan and thank you for listening. And if you wanna get the links and everything mentioned here in all in one. Just head over to the show notes page

Again, for the show notes and resources. Thank you again so much. I appreciate you. And I look forward to serving you the next episode of Smart Passive Income podcast. Until then, cheers. Peace out. And as always Team Flynn for the win. Have a good one.

Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at I’m your host Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski. And our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We’ll catch you in the next session.

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