Unique Service + Hard Work = Opportunity

Sep 3 2009

A couple days ago, I got a knock on my door, and a guy that was wearing blue rubber gloves was there when I opened it. He said something like: “I lost my job a while back, and got sick of not working, so I’m out providing a service today. I’ll clean out your garbage cans for $10 each, or two for $15. I use a pressure washer and industrial strength bleach and I literally climb inside them and scrub them by hand.”

I hired him on the spot, for two reasons: 1. my garbage cans were nasty; 2. I’d have hired him anyway, because here’s a guy down on his luck making his own.

We got talking after he was done, and he said he’d been laid off from doing sales, and realized that if he could find a service that’s unique that people need, and then just work hard, he’d be able to make something happen. He says a lot of days, he makes $300-$400, and he even has an “employee” for times when lots of people are home.

Going door to door offering to scrub people’s garbage cans out in 100 degree UT end of summer heat (imagine the can he told me about with a full gallon of milk that had spilled out and sat for a LONG time or the one filled with what looked like months and months of dog poop) isn’t glamourous entrepreneurship ala Bill Gates and Richard Branson and Michael Dell and Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey.

But this guy gets it. Opportunity is what you make it. Loosing his job wasn’t in his control. Rolling up his sleeves, getting dirty (literally in his case), and having the courage to act: all very much in his control. To me, he hits the core definition of an entrepreneur square on the head.

So find a product or service that’s unique that people need (and will pay for), get off your butt, get to work, and make your own opportunity!

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  • http://www.internetbroadbandtoday.com/ Darryl Coleman

    Nice writing style. I look forward to reading more in the future.

  • http://www.internetbroadbandtoday.com Darryl Coleman

    Nice writing style. I look forward to reading more in the future.

  • Damian

    I love it! Wish he was in my neighborhood, I’d love not to have to do mine this weekend!

  • Damian

    I love it! Wish he was in my neighborhood, I’d love not to have to do mine this weekend!

  • http://www.utahtechspotlight.com/ Steve Spencer

    Jer,

    Very uplifting story. I’m with you… I would have paid him to do it rather I needed it or not, just because he’s out there bustin his butt. It’s so common to see people out of work, whining about how they can’t find a job. I understand that people are having a hard time finding the right job… but don’t pretend there’s nothing to do in the meantime. It’s amazing how many people are out of work, but feel that many things are “beneath them”. Um… okay, if it’s beneath you, then I guess you’re somehow more valuable to the planet than the person who should be doing it?

    Sorry… I know your post was in the spirit of positive energy, not whining about whiners :)

    Good job to the garbage cleaner guy!!

  • http://www.utahtechspotlight.com Steve Spencer

    Jer,

    Very uplifting story. I’m with you… I would have paid him to do it rather I needed it or not, just because he’s out there bustin his butt. It’s so common to see people out of work, whining about how they can’t find a job. I understand that people are having a hard time finding the right job… but don’t pretend there’s nothing to do in the meantime. It’s amazing how many people are out of work, but feel that many things are “beneath them”. Um… okay, if it’s beneath you, then I guess you’re somehow more valuable to the planet than the person who should be doing it?

    Sorry… I know your post was in the spirit of positive energy, not whining about whiners :)

    Good job to the garbage cleaner guy!!

  • http://www.belicove.com/ Mikal

    What he also “gets” is the notion of positioning. If he had rolled up in a big shiny truck and wore a uniform, you’d likely have said no, but since he opened with “I lost my job a while back, and got sick of not working” (despite the fact that he IS now working and even has someone working underneath him), he came across as someone taking responsibility for his own destiny, and in doing so, he appealed to your sense for authenticity, transparence, and sole responsibility for one’s success or failure. Smart positioning, and even smarter if he either: A) remains a one-man shop and never buys that shiny truck or uniform; or B) buys the shiny truck and uniform and only hires people like himself… people who were down on their luck and tired of waiting for the next job to come knock on their door.

  • http://www.belicove.com Mikal

    What he also “gets” is the notion of positioning. If he had rolled up in a big shiny truck and wore a uniform, you’d likely have said no, but since he opened with “I lost my job a while back, and got sick of not working” (despite the fact that he IS now working and even has someone working underneath him), he came across as someone taking responsibility for his own destiny, and in doing so, he appealed to your sense for authenticity, transparence, and sole responsibility for one’s success or failure. Smart positioning, and even smarter if he either: A) remains a one-man shop and never buys that shiny truck or uniform; or B) buys the shiny truck and uniform and only hires people like himself… people who were down on their luck and tired of waiting for the next job to come knock on their door.

  • http://jeremyhanks.com/ Jeremy

    Mikal, very good points. I offered to help him out when he was finished, and probably will be going to lunch with him in the next few weeks. I’ll definitely share your advice with him.

  • http://jeremyhanks.com Jeremy

    Mikal, very good points. I offered to help him out when he was finished, and probably will be going to lunch with him in the next few weeks. I’ll definitely share your advice with him.

  • http://jordy.gundy.org/ Jordy

    Awesome! Great story and a great business!

    Do you have his contact info?

    Jordy

  • http://jordy.gundy.org/ Jordy

    Awesome! Great story and a great business!

    Do you have his contact info?

    Jordy

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  • Logan

    Great story! I love to hear when someone suffers a setback like losing their job and instead of getting down and being acted upon, they decide to act and create opportunity for themselves. That’s what entrepreneurship, capitalism, and the American work ethic are all about!

    This is my first time commenting but I’ve been a fan of your blog for a while. Keep up the good work Jeremy.

  • Logan

    Great story! I love to hear when someone suffers a setback like losing their job and instead of getting down and being acted upon, they decide to act and create opportunity for themselves. That’s what entrepreneurship, capitalism, and the American work ethic are all about!

    This is my first time commenting but I’ve been a fan of your blog for a while. Keep up the good work Jeremy.

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