JA Alumni Story – The Life of an Entrepreneur

Posted in: Alumni Stories

Greg Peterson has started over 30 businesses in his life thus far. From a young age, he wanted the freedom and flexibility that came with entrepreneurship. But it wasn’t until his experience with Junior Achievement that he learned how to truly be successful in running a business.

When he was just a boy in the early ‘70s, Greg’s father encouraged him to start a route delivering newspapers in his community. Then in 1975, he began cleaning fish ponds for neighbors on the weekends. Seeing how much money there was to be made in that endeavor inspired Greg to continue his entrepreneurial path, but he lacked the skills needed to run a complete and successful business.

In 1979, Greg was a senior in high school and had the opportunity to participate in the JA Company program which allowed him to create and run a business for the duration of the school year.

“This was a pivotal moment,” Greg recalled, “because I was learning the tools I needed to run a business from beginning to end.”

In the JA Company program, students create a product, market and sell the product, learn about buying and selling stocks, and eventually liquidate the business at the end of the year. Alongside an advisor, students gain the knowledge and insight it takes to make it as an entrepreneur.

“I believe one the only ways in life to get rich is to start a business.” Greg spoke with enthusiasm as he recalled the memories from 30 years ago: “To experience that process at a young age was invaluable.”

Greg’s company went on to win “Company of the Year” prior to his high school graduation.

During his time involved with Junior Achievement, Greg formed a friendship with Charles Schuster, a long-time member of the JA family. After accepting a lunch invitation one day, Greg formed a connection with Charles that would last until Charles’ death in 1991. Greg was involved in raising the funds to dedicate a room to Charles at the Junior Achievement office in Tempe, AZ.

Today, Greg runs his own business, Urban Farm, educating the community about where food comes from and how to grow it. He carries with him the memories and life lessons that he gained from his experience with JA.

“Junior Achievement is what inspired me to continue to pursue entrepreneurship, and I just wish I had found it sooner.”