We were doing it for the money. Neither one of us dreamed how much more we’d get out of it.
Growing up in a cash-strapped family, money was a huge motivation to myself and my brother. Since we lived in a subdivision with a handful of elderly neighbors, we quickly realized the only source of fast cash was going to come from raking yards, cutting wood, and mowing lawns. Here’s 7 invaluable things we learned:
I learned to work really, really hard. Even a little skill goes a long way when you work hard at it, and I think the entire reason I’m where I am career-wise today is because of learning this simple lesson.
I learned to cooperate. Christian and I would quickly map out who would do what on each project, and then work as a team. The more we were in sync, the faster the project finished. This simple habit engrained a life-long desire in both of us to connect people and help them work together.
I learned to work fast. It’s simple- the longer you take on a project, the less you get paid. When your neighbors are still frozen in 1950’s pricing (we often got paid $20 to split for 30+ hours of work), speed was vital. Now I often receive work because I can deliver a quality product more quickly than my competitors, giving me an edge in a crowded market.
I learned to market. Christian and I quickly ran into a problem: how do we get people to hire us? We struck on a brilliant idea: rake the neighbor’s yard for free, to prove our abilities. The neighbors were so pleased, they gave us popsicles. The next week we got the biggest job we’d ever had: raking a neighbor’s 1.5 acre lot for the incredible sum of 35 dollars. We were learning that hard work is only half of the job. Marketing your services was the other vital half of any entrepreneur’s daily routine.
I learned to self-motivate. If the difference between getting a pack of football cards and a soda is getting off the couch and sweating in the sun for a few hours, it has a way of motivating you. At least, it did for me.
I learned to get along. If Christian and I had fought on the job, neither of us would have finished the job and gotten paid. Out of necessity, we learned to forgive each other’s faults and work together toward our common goal.
I learned to care. This was in large part because my parents had already taught me at home that being thorough, contentious, and meticulous wasn’t just a good business practice, but an important expression of our lives as Christians. Working for others only accented how caring about what you do not only sets you apart from other workers, but communicates your fundamental values to those around you.