Spirit of Entrepreneurship Alive and Picking

By Jeff Bowman

I’ve always lamented the fact that times have changed and due to circumstances both real and imagined, kids today are not introduced or encouraged to earn a buck the good old-fashioned way, working.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I was initiated into the world of professional sales at a very young age.  My father was a member of a community organization called Civitan, and at Christmas time I was sent out down the street to take orders for delectable chunks of fruitcake, which I would subsequently deliver a couple of weeks later.

My brother played rep hockey, so there was always the fundraisers, chocolate bar sales etc, which I would again hit the good neighbors up for. Most of these activities took place during my formative years before I ventured out on my own and got a paper route when I was about 9 years old. I delivered a route that went a fair distance from my home, riding my mustang bike with the banana seat and the high back bars with my paper bag balanced precariously on my monkey bar handle bars.  There was little worry that I would not return home safe at night, and on collection night going from door to door until dark collecting the weekly $.50 stipend I never encountered any problems. Over the course of 2 years I got to know my clients well, developed a rapport with a great many, opened many new clients and often received treats, a bite to eat or a drink of pop.  This familiarity soon grew to other paying jobs like painting a fence, cleaning eaves troughs and even picking up mail for clients while they were on vacation. I seemingly always had, and still do have an entrepreneurial spirit.

It’s not often that I see a lemonade stand, collections by kids for a charity or even newspaper carriers anymore. (excellent video calling Paperboys in the 50’s “The Biggest Little Businessmen of our time”) As I said times have changed. On Saturday night a couple of 10-year=old boys approached me while I was planting flowers. Bold as can be, one asked if he could assist me by removing the weeds on my lawn.  For only a toonie he would save me the aggravation. I grinned from ear to ear. Entrepreneurs! I agreed, and the boys went about their business with a long-handled weeder.  I offered a brown bag, but the one boy said, that he puts them in a backpack he was carrying, and disposes of them at home. I couldn’t believe it!

After about 15 minutes they approached and asked me to have a look at the lawn. I smiled and causally threw a few glances around. I told them I was impressed, and asked my wife to pay them (yes I did). We gave them $2.00 for the job and an extra $.50 for disposal. It must have been their first tip, because they were quite thankful.  Now they will understand how good customer service relates to money! We watched as they walked to the houses along the street, no one else seeming to offer them work.  I thought to myself, that it was a damn shame no one was willing to let these kids work.

Like I said, times have changed, but I’m glad that there are still some kids out there who are willing to ask for work and do a good job. I would have given these two a couple of bucks even if I didn’t have weeds, just for having that entrepreneurial spirit!

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Filed under Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Sales

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