At 13, Joshua Maciejewski launched a computer sales and service business. Soon he had 200 clients and was supervising 15 people — all adults.

“The big challenge of running the business was the wow factor,” he says, adding that when clients saw him, they’d often gasp, “You’re 13?”

The son of a nurse and a plumber, who owns his own business, Maciejewski got his first computer at age 5. “I learned how to repair the computer by always breaking it. My mother would yell, ‘If you’re going to keep breaking it, you need to be able to fix it.’”

He fast became an expert. When he was 13, he got a part-time job handling all the computer repairs at his uncle’s contracting company. He loved the excitement of a business. So he decided to start his own.

That summer he began Maciejewski Enterprises — a PC troubleshooting company. He helps you get online, designs your website, gives you PC training, loads your software, or advises you what equipment to buy.

First, he got calls from family and friends. Later, to spread the word, he folded a flyer noting his services into all the bills his Dad sent to his 1,000 clients. Soon, he was getting calls from big businesses, including an energy and power production company, a health care organization, a hospital, the local university, and the middle school where he was a student.

“Most knew my name but didn’t know my age. I did a lot of work with them over the phone initially so that they became comfortable with my knowledge and with my giving them direction. I never mentioned my age until I would meet them in person.

“Then I always got the double take.” He laughs. “But by then, most people were already comfortable with my ability, so it was okay.”

First he charged $20 an hour, but as his confidence grew, so did his rates, which rose to $90. Because he could solve almost any computer problem, even skeptical clients began telling others: “This guy’s great.”

Big Dreams

“At 18, when I came to MIT, I could have continued my business and lived comfortably for the rest of my life,” says Maciejewski, who bought a $40,000 Camaro outright. He then got a pilot’s license and also is financing his entire MIT education.

“I gave up a lot to come to MIT in terms of the potential growth of the business. To make up for it, I told myself I was going to make it worth it and go all out.”

Now, the 20-year-old junior from Catawissa, Pa., says: “One day, I’d like to be in charge of something really big.” He is pursuing a double degree in civil and environmental engineering and management, and after MIT, he plans to go to law school, then business school, work briefly in upper management at a major corporation, then launch an engineering and construction business. “But I’m talking big — roads, bridges, real estate, large office towers, large apartment buildings, commercial development — the Donald Trump scale.”

When he’s independently wealthy, he says, “I’d like to enter politics.” First he’d like to run for state office, then the U.S. House or Senate, then become President of the United States. “I don’t know if it’s a realistic possibility, but that dream has always stuck with me.”

Try Anything

What he most learned from running a company, he says, is not to be afraid to try anything. “Even if you don’t know exactly what needs to be done, there’s information out there if you just look.”

Maciejewski looks. He recently read dozens of biographies about Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and others. He studies the stories for tips about leadership, entrepreneurship, and success.

“I’ll always keep my business but probably just on the side,” he says, adding that running his own business while at MIT taught him that he can easily handle the business in addition to something else.

Now, he and an MIT friend are examining the possibility of buying an apartment building — a big step toward fulfilling his dreams. “I don’t settle for just meeting my goals,” he says. “Exceeding my goals is how I define success.”