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Teen Entrepreneur Advocates for Young Professionals in Southwest Missouri 

Building bridges through a business.

Who is Gen Z? What do they need to make sure their professional lives are fulfilling in the Ozarks? These questions drive Jonathan Bell, CEO and founder of Bells Marketing Consultants.   

Bell started his business at the ripe age of 15. Beyond just seeing his own marketing business grow, he aims to make southwest Missouri a place that Gen Z wants to live and work in. 

Before starting his own business, he applied for several jobs and received rejections from each one. The silver lining was that he found an opportunity to work for his cousin’s financial firm managing their social media. Through that, he found interest in algorithms and gained valuable knowledge in how social media ticks.  

“The biggest challenge was my age and how young I started,” Bell said. “A lot of people didn’t take me seriously.”   

As he tried to build his client base, many companies took his young age as a sign of inexperience. Instead, Bell’s experience in social media and being part of Gen Z is a huge strength: He knows what resonates, what’s trending and where Gen Z spends their time.  

“My team works with companies who want to understand how to grab the attention of Gen Z,” Bell said. “We hire Gen Z consultants from area high schools and colleges. They come in for a study and analyze a product or service that companies are trying to understand if Gen Z is interested in as well. ”  

When helping a client with a campaign, the team thinks about how they can strategically reach the client’s goals, developing a thorough plan for each campaign.  

“Our organization prides ourselves on treating our clients like we’re investing partners, and we want to make sure that they grow,” Bell said. 

As a leader of this consulting agency, he is eager to expand his client base and continue growing his team with Gen Z and millennials in the region.  

Keeping Gen Z talent in southwest Missouri

While the goal of Bells Marketing Consultants is to help businesses with their marketing, an underlying goal is to also keep Gen Z talent in southwestern Missouri.  

“A lot of people that I talk to on a day-to-day basis, whether they’re in high school or college, they don’t want to stay in the southern region of Missouri at all,” Bell explained.  

Bell’s conclusion is that there aren’t very many professional opportunities for the Gen Z generation. 

As Gen Z is about to enter the work force, it is important that the region has infrastructure to get Gen Z employed.  

Hoping to mend that, Bell is hosting an event Young Professionals vs. SWMO on April 12. This is an opportunity for Gen Z and young millennials to come together with employers to talk about each other’s struggles and to close the gaps.  

“The goal is to swap perspectives and understand how we can find common middle ground,” Bell explained. “If employers are struggling hiring people and young professionals are struggling getting a job, there’s something missing.”    

He believes in going straight to the source and asking what the problem could be. It is important to understand the issues and struggles that both Gen Z and employers are having if southwest Missouri is going to persuade this generation to stay and slow the brain drain.  

Persistence is important

Some might say as young and vibrant as he is, Bell is an old soul.  

He grew up in a sort of transitory state, moving back and forth between Chicago and Springfield for much of his elementary school life.  Some of his desire to plant his roots in Springfield comes from moving so much.  

Now, he gets regular requests to speak at local high schools where he shares his story and provides inspiration for students to create their own opportunities. 

Through his story, students are introduced to non-traditional routes to success- not just high school diploma to college to 8 a.m.-5 p.m. job. 

“Successful entrepreneurship is a real possibility, even in southwest Missouri,” Bell said. “There is a lot of potential in Springfield, and I want to be part of that growth that Springfield has to offer.”