I just answered the door to my townhouse, met by a young man who asked me if he could borrow my lawnmower. Ummm, no.
But there is more to this story 🙂
A few months ago, we had about 8 inches of snow, and three boys around the age of 12 (this young man was one of them) knocked on the door and asked if they could shovel our sidewalk for $15. I playfully insinuated that that was too much money, and they immediately dropped the price to $10. I told them I would gladly pay the $15, and when they were finished, I spent some time teaching them about charging what you’re worth, and not being deterred by someone who “balks” at their price. Good sales training. During the time it took them to shovel the snow, one of the boys, Marcus, knocked again and asked if I had an extra shovel since their third had just broke. No problem. I was really proud of those three boys, and it made my day to be able to impart some wisdom.
Fast forward to the lawnmower story today. I hadn’t see Marcus since the storm. He asked politely: “Hello sir, I was wondering if I could borrow your lawnmower?”
Ahhh, young entrepreneurship. Above anything, I was delighted. He must have been touched by the time I spent with them in the winter, teaching them about sales. Or maybe he just remembered I loaned him the extra shovel. Either way, I was glad he approached me again.
My response was probably not was he was looking for. “I bet you want to borrow it so you can go and knock on doors in our neighborhood, and cut some people’s grass to earn money?” I said it with a smile.
Already pumped by his respectfulness.
I walked outside, closed the door, and sat on the porch to talk to him. “So, unfortunately, I don’t have a lawnmower. I pay someone to take care of our yard. But honestly, even if I did, I probably wouldn’t loan it to you. But I’d love to help you figure out how you can earn what you need in order to buy your OWN lawnmower. You’re going to need at least $100, or go on Craigslist and see if someone is giving one away, or selling it cheaply. Do you have $100?”
“No, but my mom works at Home Depot.”
“Perfect, then you’ll be able to get a discount. So, you don’t have any money, but what you DO have is your labor and hard work. What can you offer to do for people in the neighborhood, RIGHT NOW, so you could earn money and save towards the lawnmower? Rake leaves? Wash cars? What are some of your ideas?”
“Well, my uncle owns a barbershop, and sometimes he lets me come in, sweep the floor, and earn some money.”
“Boom. There’s your answer! Tell him you have a goal of earning $100 so you can buy a good lawnmower, because you want to earn money over the summer. Ask him if he will let you work as often as possible so you can save faster. He’ll be glad to support you, and then, instead of borrowing MY lawn mower that doesn’t exist, you’ll have your OWN.”
Marcus nodded his head in agreement, and left my porch with a smile. I told him he had to come back and show me his lawnmower when he purchased it, and I would be his first customer.
Take-away for us adults? Don’t let what you can’t do, prevent you from doing what you can. Often times, it’s not money we lack, but ideas. Resourcefulness. Need an extra $5K in order to buy a new piece of equipment that will make you thousands? What can you sell and get rid of at home that will move you towards your goal? What kind of offer could you make to existing clients that would help them save money, yet give you a boost in cash up front?
Another take-away? Pour into kids. Every chance you get, teach them what you know. Inspire them. Ask questions. Make them think. Treat them well. Pay it forward. And teach them to do the same.