Service · · 8 min read

Made first $100,000 as a teenager - Cade Hanson, video marketing agency

Made first $100,000 as a teenager - Cade Hanson, video marketing agency

Cade Hanson is a young entrepreneur who turned his early fascination for filmmaking into a thriving video marketing agency. At just 17 years old, Cade took the bold step of officially launching his business, channeling his savings and self-taught skills into a venture that now generates between $160,000 and $180,000 annually. Over the past four years, Cade’s journey has been marked by relentless hard work, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to his passion.

Cade’s story is a testament to the power of saying "yes" to opportunities, even when they seem daunting. From filming his first commercial with no prior experience to building a robust client base across different states, Cade’s ability to learn on the go and deliver exceptional results has set him apart. In this interview, Cade shares the highs and lows of his entrepreneurial journey, the strategies that fueled his success, and the personal growth that came from pushing through challenges. Whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur or a seasoned business owner, Cade’s insights and experiences offer valuable lessons on the importance of confidence, perseverance, and continual learning in the world of business.

Enjoy the interview!

Please, introduce yourself and your business.

Hi, my name is Cade Hanson, and I started a video marketing agency at 17. After four challenging years of work, re-starting in four different states, and almost failing more times than I can count, I've built my dream life.

I've loved every day and have grown so much as a person. I can't imagine having spent the past four years doing anything else - I love being an entrepreneur.

How did you start your business? 

Since as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by filmmaking. In school, every time we had class projects, I'd ask to create an iMovie and spent dozens of hours filming on my iPad. My classmates spent an hour on an essay while I spent 20+ hours making videos.

After years of watching tutorials online, enjoying movies, taking photos for fun, people around me knew I had talent and asked me to do odd projects. Taking family photos, editing videos for social media, and filming sports events. I started working at 13 as a soccer ref and started saving money. I then worked landscaping 13-17 saving up money.

At 17, I knew I had the skills and capital to start my own business officially. I put all of my savings into gear and an online course, and the rest of history. I worked 250+ hours a month learning, shooting, and networking across the county. Every opportunity I took and delivered on, new doors opened.

I never had a long-term business plan - just over-delivery on every project I currently had. I moved across the country due to family circumstances and got good at starting from scratch.

I had a dream and the work ethic to pull it off. I've shot TV commercials on ESPN, high-converting Facebook ads, beautiful weddings, intense sports games, corporate livestreams, educational videos, music videos, and just about everything else under the sun.

As I've shot more, I've figured out what I like doing, what I'm good at, and what makes money. I largely work with corporate clients (real estate investors, insurance agents, solar companies, and construction companies) creating high-end videos as well as engaging social content.

How much revenue was your best year? (include margin if possible)

I'll do about $160-180k this year with about $10k/m in take-home pay (day rates + profit). It varies by project, but I like to keep about 70-80% of a project as take-home pay.

When did you notice traction when building your business? The “Oh S**t!” moment, what did that feel like?

My first client asked me to make commercials, I had no clue how to and didn't have the tools, but I said yes.

I spent a week buying gear, taking a course, and through shear confidence, pulling off my very first commercial. From there, my first year was spent selling clients on things I had no clue how to do, but I learned along the way. The first six months of my business were by far my favorite.

I showed the confidence and clients thought I knew what I was doing, but inside I was scared I wasn't going to be able to pull it off. But through brute force and being good a learning, I learned every single skill I know from projects that I had to figure out how to pull off. After those six months, I knew I could pull anything off.

What was your childhood like? Were you slinging candy on the playground?

I've been scheming up business ideas since as young as I can remember. I've always been an independent, strong-willed, confident, persuasive person.

I started so many clubs/groups through school, always lead group projects, always did the maximum, and had the confidence to do things outside of societal norms. I didn't start actually running a business and making money until I was 17, but all the skills needed for entrepreneurship (hard work, leadership, confidence, self-motivated, etc.), I've always possessed.

If there's one thing I can do, it's sell/be persuasive.

What has been your best marketing marketing channel?

In-person networking and word of mouth. As a creative starting out, I had no set packages/offers. Being a creative with high-ticket packages now, I have to build a lot of trust with people before they buy. Whatever people needed when I started out, I provided custom packages.

This meant online ads, billboards, radio, and traditional forms of advertising were useless. I had to know someone's business better than their own to create valuable packages.

As clients loved working with me, they started referring me out. I know have serviced so many clients that love me, that almost all of my work comes to me from referrals/returning clients. Now that I have a stable base of clients and packages that work, I can begin looking at actually advertising after four years of work.

How many attempts at building something did you make before you found what you’re working on now? Did you always have an entrepreneurial drive?

Zero. From day one, I gave myself no out - I will die before I give up with entrepreneurship. I spent the first three years absolutely grinding, and if I weren't 110% committed, I would've given up.

I love every single day of running this business, but if I chased the good idea fairy or kept re-starting new businesses every year, all of my effort/momentum would've been lost.

I see so many business owners give up and pivot when things get tough, so they get stuck in this endless cycle of starting from scratch and having to competitive advantage over their competition.

When things get tough and you want to quit, your competition is wanting to quit too. If you push through, your competition quits and you have an open playing field.

What is your biggest overhead expense?

Software - between the CRM software I re-sell to clients, accounting, editing/creative softwares, and g-suite, I spend a lot of money every month on software.

That's the magic that gives me a competitive advantage. For the first three years of my business, my largest overhead was gear - I invested everything I made right back into equipment. But now, I just have software expenses.

What’s the most important skill you’ve learned?

Confidence & learning how to learn. I believe to my core that I am capable of learning anything necessary to keep my business going. It doesn't mean that I know everything right now and can do anything, but I do believe that I know how to learn any skill I need to pull a project off.

As a new business owner, you have to become a Swiss army knife. You can learn how to build a website on YouTube in a few hours, read a book on branding/copywriting, and launch your website for $20. You can read free books from the library on sales.

You can hire an accountant to teach you finance. I don't know everything, but when faced with the challenges I've hit along the way, never once have I been unable to watch a video, buy a book/course, hire a consultant, or talk to other businesses owners in my niche to figure out how to overcome a challenge.

When clients ask for something, even if I don't currently know how to, I say yes and figure out how to get it done.

What do you spend the majority of your time doing, in a given week? (I think a lot of people hear entrepreneurs “work,” but may not understand what that means on a day-to-day basis.

I spend before noon working on my business. No emails/calls/meetings before noon. That's unadulterated time to work on growing my business - updated sites, creating content, learning, planning, etc. After noon until the evening is working on client projects, pitching new work, and communicating with clients.

Throughout the week in the evenings, I go to a lot of networking events to generate new business. My hourly rate has to be high as an entrepreneur, because about half of my time spent working is purposely non-billable hours.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when first starting your business?

Every business owner started where I started - with nothing. People aren't born with business plans or funding. Everyone that runs a company learned how to run that company.

Sure, there's people who were fortunate enough to have parents in business or mentors early in life. They might have started learning before you, but at the end of the day, they learned everything.

You might feel like you have no clue what you're doing on day one of starting your business. That's the same feeling everyone else had. The successful people just started and learned along the way. The failed people never started or decided to stop learning along the way.

The world of entrepreneurship can be misleading. Many people think it’s always easy and always glamorous. What’s a big problem you’ve faced as a business owner and what were the emotions behind it?

Myself. The great thing about starting your own business is that EVERYTHING is up to you. Even if you have employees/subcontractors, everything still rests on you - your intelligence, your stamina, your time, your money. Winning or loosing is up to you.

Sure, there's external factors/difficult situations, but every successful entrepreneur has dug themselves out of a hole deeper than you'll ever experience. Every failed entrepreneur has taken a difficult situation/experience and used it as an excuse to quit.

The biggest limitation on your business is you. Can I work long enough, smart enough, and hard enough to pull this off, or will I decide to tap out?

Many people don’t know where to start in the business world, they feel stuck. They may want to start a business to become their  own boss and create their hours. What is your best advice for someone who feels completely stuck?

You have to make the leap and make it work through brute force. Waiting, learning, or talking about it won't make it easier. You will never feel ready or have a full plan together.

No matter what you do, the first few years will not be easy at all. But your dream life is on the other side of a few years of dedicated, fulfilling work - sleepless nights and stressful days. If you put in the work and just get started, you will not regret your decision - so just start and go all in today.

This will be the most rewarding experience of your life - you will grow, you will cry, you will learn, and you will emerge victorious if you put in calculated hours of work.

You can find Cade and all the interesting things he's doing, here: