This week we are looking at the struggle of competition, price and brand, and how to expand your business as a student. The tension can be real, and Nathan provides a few times to manage the pressure and enjoy life and your business.
As a high school student (and now as a college student), the biggest struggle I’ve faced is time management. In high school, having to be in class from 7:30a - 2:30p every day was a struggle to get everything done before sunset. Over the four years in high school, I have found some strategies that work great and have allowed me to balance getting good grades, having close friends and still work 40 to 60 hours a week:
Schedule everything. As a smaller business, it's easier to remember to go to that meeting or have that project done before a certain date. As your business grows to a larger scale and you have more meetings and projects booked, you have to start scheduling those meetings to fit between school and working on projects. I found that if I worked from 3pm to 8pm everyday and one meeting every night after, I was maximizing all of my time. This model of late night meetings worked great and most of my customers understood that I had a busy schedule and was balancing schoolwork. I would also recommend scheduling one night a week to be with your friends, as you are in high school only once and you should enjoy those moments. In my experience, Saturday nights tended to work best as I had the whole day to work.
Find programs in your school. During my freshman and sophomore year of high school, I could manage working 3pm - 8pm everyday and keep up on the business, along with school and a social life. As I went into my junior and senior year, I needed more daylight to work so I started to look at work-based education programs through the school. During my junior year, the business department had a work education program and they allowed me to leave an hour early every day to work and submit a work log for a grade. This allowed me to work an extra hour every day and was crucial to my success during that season. My senior year in 2019 was the biggest change in our business. We had committed to a full time mowing route with a full time landscaping crew. I needed to work more and be in school less. I found that I could do college classes online and that allowed me to leave almost everyday before 10am and begin work. This program allowed me to not only work, but it gave me six college credits in high school. It was a busy season, but it was definitely worth it in the long run.
One of the most valuable things I have learned from running my business is scheduling my time and priorities. In this industry, if you are running a company as a teen, it is so important to stay focused and not waste a minute because time is so valuable. There is only so much time in the day and you’re only in high school once. It may feel like a drag at times, but enjoy it while you're in that season. Remember to invest in your friends and be intentional about setting goals and achieving them.