The Seed of Entrepreneurship
The Law of the Harvest came to my awareness back in the summer of 2013 when I confronted three teenage boys who would loiter in the parking lot outside my apartment window. You see, I work from home, and while the boys did skateboard tricks and smoke cigarettes, they cursed constantly.
Especially the boy who was the ringleader. He was an angry kid and it was distracting to listen to him.
So one day I went out on my balcony overlooking the parking lot and said: “Hey guys. Can you chill it with the potty language? I’m trying to get work done. Why don’t you go find somewhere else to hang out.”
The three boys stared at me as if I was still using a flip phone. (not very cool). Then I went back to work and they began swearing again. Louder this time.
Now it was my turn to get angry, but I wasn’t sure what I could do to make those boys leave and never come back. Talking to their parents wasn’t an option. Two of the boys lived somewhere else, they didn’t live in the apartment complex. And the ringleader? He didn’t have a father that I knew of.
His mother was an unemployed alcoholic (the word tends to get around where I live) and my complaints would only fall on deaf ears.
For days I struggled with how to get rid of these boys. The boys continued to congregate outside my bedroom office and let the F shots fly.
Just when I thought it was hopeless, there it was: The Perfect Plan. This would get rid of them once and for all (maniacal laughter).
My master plan took about a week of preparation. When I was ready, I went outside as they loitered.
“Hey you” I said, pointing to the ringleader. “Come here for a minute.”
He turned to look behind him.
“Yeah, you. Your name is Dwayne right? Come here. I want to ask you something.”
He cautiously approached. His two friends watched in the distance, expressions frozen in a mix of curiosity and fear.
“You want to make some extra money? I started the dog walking company and I need a dog walker. Is this something you’d be interested in?”
He looked at me suspiciously. He was waiting either for a punchline or a punch. That’s when I handed him a stack of business cards that had his name on it. I also gave him a fake gold business card holder. His name was engraved on that as well.
He looked excited, if not a bit bewildered and nodded.
“Great.” I said. “We knock on some doors tomorrow and get customers for our new business.”
With that, we shook hands and he ran back to tell his friends.
So the next day the boy and I went knocking door to door around the neighborhood.
Now a bit of background about me: I was raised in a poor family. The oldest of eight children. My parents never gave me money for anything. I learned not to ask. So when I was 8-9 years old I shoveled snow in the winter and delivered fliers in the summer. I sold everything door-to-door, from silver dollars to donuts.
This upbringing planted the seed of entrepreneurship in my mind. That seed flourished and through years of hard work, trial and error it has borne good fruit. Now I was sharing my knowledge with the boy.
I told him everything I could. I showed him how to use a rhythmic knock on the door rather than pound on it like we were the FBI. I showed him how to get to the point and explain our business.
After several hours of knocking on doors, we went home and waited for the phone to ring. And waited and waited.
Several weeks went by and not a single dog walking job. The three boys continued loitering outside doing tricks on their skateboards. Meanwhile, I was beginning to feel like a failure. I didn’t want to disappoint him. I felt that I had somehow misrepresented myself to be better than I was. Maybe I wasn’t such a great entrepreneur after all.
But as I listened to the three boys outside my window, I noticed something different. They weren’t swearing anymore. I never even asked them to stop. They just did.
Then autumn arrived. The weather got colder. Still not a single dog walking customer. Still no harvest from our door knocking campaign and other advertising. The voices outside my window went quiet, replaced by the sound of wind and wrestling trees.
Then finally, as fall turned to winter, we got our first customer! I ran to his apartment and knocked on the door. A woman I’d never seen before open the door. I asked if Duane was home and she replied that they had been evicted the previous month. I was stunned because that was my first time hearing about it.
I haven’t heard or seen him since.
Duane has a hard life ahead of him, but I hope the seed of entrepreneurship that I planted in his mind flourishes, and through hard work, trial and error it will bear good fruit.
Wheatbin is dedicated to him.