I’ll never forget the summer of 1973. I know, that was a century ago…I had discovered a great new 10 speed bike at the local sporting goods store that had my name on it. Now being an only child, and my parents were very successful in their businesses, it would have been no problem for them to simply drop about one hundred dollars (which was a lot back in 1973) in my lap and purchase it for me. I mean c’mon, I was a great kid…I deserved it right? Wrong!
My dad gave me an opportunity to purchase that bike but it took a commitment on my part. Here was the deal: He encouraged me (you know what I talking about!) to start my own lawn service around our neighborhood. He gave me permission to use our mower, grass catcher and other various yard tools and he even fronted the funds to purchase the first tank of gas and the oil to get things started. I however, would be in charge of marketing and sales!
I wanted to get started as soon as possible so rather than making cold calls through the neighborhood; I asked my grandmother if she knew any older folks in the neighborhood that would be interested in hiring me to mow their yards. She did! I learned at a very early age the power of referrals!
Within a few days, I had four lawns to mow at a price of 25.00 per month each or $100.00 per month. Now remember, out of that I had to purchase gas, oil as needed and was responsible for any other maintenance and upkeep. Because it was going to come out of my pocket, I made the extra effort to take the best of care of everything; you see…I owned it. There is a very valuable lesson here!
Well business was great but not everything was great about it. I remember accidentally mowing over some plants in Mr. Hamilton’s yard that quite honestly had never seen a mower before. I had to take a dip in the profits to pay for that!
There were times I would look around the neighborhood and see my buddies playing ball or going to the local convenient store for some goodies and I could not go…I had yards to mow first! There were days it was so hot and dry that just starting the mower made you sweat. There were more adventures to follow…
One day while mowing Mrs. Clark’s backyard, I ran the mower into her clothes line. This man-made device was constructed with pipes which were ideal for nesting wasps. As I turned around from the clothes line wearing no shirt (I had to get my tan on!!), without warning I felt a sharp pain and fell immediately to the ground. My back was full of wasp stings. I thought I was going to die!
As summer began to draw to a close and the grass did not grow as fast, my lawn service began to shut down. I looked into my revenue stream and after all expenses, I had enough net profit to have my dad take me to the sporting goods store and purchase the bike of my dreams! I even had money left over!!! While it took me about two and a half months to earn it, once I put my foot on the pedal and shifted those 10 gears on the bike as I rode down the streets of my neighborhood, I realized it meant more to me than I thought it would!
I was proud of myself for working to earn the bike. Despite missing out on the trips to the candy store, missing ball games, ruining valuable plants that cost me dearly and even getting eaten up by wasps, it was worth every bit of it!
The lessons I learned as a kid that summer still ring strong in the adult I am today. From that summer on, I had a job of some kind and I appreciated what each opportunity afforded me financially and in my development as a productive human being.
So no matter where you are in life, I believe you see the point of this writing. What was your “lawn service” experience? Have you ever had one? I believe once you experience the value of learning from a great working experience, your thinking about life will never be the same.
It is my wish for each of you that find yourself in a neighborhood filled with yards ready to be mowed and you cannot wait to start your mower!