Aaron Williams is a young adult with autism who is living out his dream as a small business entrepreneur.
Aaron’s strong will first surfaced in his preschool days. He liked watching television while sitting on the floor two-feet away. His mother thought that was too close so she put a piece of masking tape on the floor about six feet away. She told Aaron he could watch television only when he sat behind the tape. Several days later his mom got up in the morning and found him watching television from his usual two-foot distance. He had moved the tape to accommodate his watching custom while complying with his mom’s rule.
Aaron has a keen sense of humor and deep respect for working with others to meet his goals. As a teenager and young adult, Aaron built a history of participating in work experiences and community activities that helped others see and appreciate his skills and helped him to accept assistance from others when needed. Together, he and his team crafted and executed a deliberate plan that has allowed him to reach his dream. Aaron is the proud owner of Aaron’s Fast Snacks.
Aaron’s Fast Snacks now owns, stocks, and services eight soda and candy vending machines in three locations around his Lapeer, Michigan community. Aaron’s brother Jason drives Aaron from location to location to stock and service the machines, while his parents help him manage the money and keep his accounting books. His business is only a year old and he is implementing plans to expand both the number of locations and the number of machines his business owns and services.
Aaron’s process in starting his business took more than just a dream. It took courage, determination and the ability to focus his strengths. His autism sometimes led him to focus on narrow issues and concerns. Aaron used that trait to help him grasp the finer details of operating a business. His family helped Aaron learn about inventory control by having him monitor the contents of his refrigerator and schedule-shopping trips to keep certain refrigerated items in stock. Aaron’s dad helped Aaron to operate a citywide paper route with 260 customers.
Aaron knew business and personal skills alone would not lead him to his goal. He knew he had to involve himself in the community and draw community support. He went to his local Chamber of Commerce to introduce himself and tell them about his business plans. Several Chamber members immediately voiced their support for his efforts when he handed out business cards with his picture on them, calling himself a “Future Entrepreneur.” His will to succeed later led to Aaron's introducing then-Michigan gubernatorial candidate, now Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, to a crowd of several hundred members of the disability rights community.
Aaron’s success story happened because Aaron had the ability to convince those around him to believe he would succeed. He and his team confronted many challenges and adapted his plans as needed. His business cards still have his picture on them, but he is no longer a “Future” Entrepreneur. He IS Aaron’s Fast Snacks.
Copyright © 2007. Beach Center on Disability