This week, we look at how young entrepreneurs find the wisdom and guidance to start a business and the importance of finding a mentor.
I started mowing lawns when I was just ten years old. I’m now 19 and have grown to formally form a company, gradually upgraded my equipment and service 60-70 accounts. One of my top suggestions for any young person interested in pursuing their dream to become an entrepreneur in the green industry is to find a mentor. Here are a couple of examples from my journey:
I was fortunate that the owner of a local landscape company lived in my neighborhood and would visit with my family when we were outside. Mike has been a great friend and more than willing to help me with equipment repairs and advice on equipment purchases. In addition, he has allowed me to work with crews when I have had extra time.
Another situation involves a lawn equipment dealer. Over many years, I would stop by and visit our local lawn equipment dealer. Eventually, I developed a relationship with the owner, Brian, and the staff there. During the spring season of my sophomore year in high school, I was able to complete an internship at their store and learn about equipment repair and maintenance.
One of my first major equipment purchases involved me buying a Exmark Turf Tracer mower from a local landscaper who was a “one-man” shop. One day he needed my help on a job and I had extra time. The job went well and from there, we have created a mutually beneficial relationship where we can help each other out on jobs and sharing equipment. He is a little older than me and recently decided to leave the industry. I was fortunate enough to purchase several of his accounts from him.
I have attended our regional Home Spring show for several years. There was a particular high-end landscaper who has a very successful business. It just happened that this landscaper did a major landscape job at my father’s business and through that connection I have been able to establish a relationship with Rick.
I happen to live near a major university that has top landscape design program. Though one of my contacts at the local equipment dealer, I was introduced to one of the professors, Marcus, who is the faculty advisor for the student horticultural club. This has since led me to pursue an education with the university and has opened a door to many other landscapers and the larger scope of industry across the country.
Mentors are important and can be invaluable. Look for opportunities to develop relationships with others in the industry in your local community. My experience has been very positive and business professionals, owners and educators are usually very excited to see others interested in the industry.