I was still in college when I started - I was 18. But I had been working on lots of things since I was about 14 y/o with a charity I work with.
Officially my company started 01.01.2000. It has been 10 years of hard slog with some really nice highlights along the way...
As for success stories... The ones that come to mind are always those that were extremely challenging, but turned out well, like when I have been able to add a new string to the bow and be able to properly use it for clients - For example, a new service like adding event photography which was stressful... or smaller ones like adding canvas printing+building, or the occasions when I have been able to thoroughly enjoy the project and the customer loves the outcome too.
These sort of things happen just often enough to keep the faith I think.
I started up about two and a half years ago when I started college - I was doing some design work for the football club and then took that on full time for the months between finishing my GCSEs and starting Sixth Form.
With the work that I'd been doing for them I decided to set myself up to design on the side around college and have been doing bits here and there ever since. I guess with it simply being something to run alongside everything else it goes through stages where it receives little attention - for various reasons I've been virtually non existant for a month or so - but now that I'm at university I have ample spare time to run it more actively than ever before really and it's been quite a significant change for the better really.
After many commissions being completed with lots of positive feedback i thought i would check out some sites where I might be able to freelance, as a friend suggested me to do. I received several requests within the first few weeks and made myself a paypal account. I was published in a magazine (Photoshop Projects) in Australia and New Zealand mid way through 2010 and will be re-published again hopefully.
New i continue with my freelance graphic design service (Gilmore Visuals) which up to now is going well.