Hiring the Neighborhood Kid

Our firstborn is 3 months old now and in case you weren't already aware, parenting is a full-time job. But I already have a full-time job! It feels like we need more hours in the day just to keep up.

In business, this is a good problem to have; too much work means it's time to hire. So that's exactly what we did.

Nicholas is a high school sophomore with three weeks of school left before summer break. Catie met his mother at the neighborhood book (wine) club. I met Nicholas today and he seems like a very respectful and diligent young man.

We hired Nicholas to mow our lawn.

Yes, we could still mow our own lawn. And yes, this triggers some protestant-work-ethic-induced guilt in me. But now more than ever, our time is precious and any help is a big help.

Plus, we get the opportunity to support local kid business! That's the part I'm most excited about. My brother Dan and I ran a lawn business as kids. He mowed and I whacked the weeds. We reinvested some of our revenue back into the company to buy a new gas-powered weed whacker. It was fun, and we learned a lot about business!

Last week, I told my friend Andrew that we were thinking about hiring the neighborhood kid and he really perked up. He told me how he mowed lawns when he was a kid and that one of his clients made him generate a proper, printed invoice describing the services provided or elseā€¦ he wouldn't get paid! This client had all sorts of funny little requirements that in hindsight were clearly more for Andrew's benefit than his own.

I love that.

Nicholas is starting a business with us as his only client so I feel a responsibility to be a good client. I think my next step is to have him invoice his work. After that, I want to negotiate terms and pricing for him to mow and trim.

What do you think? What lessons did you learn from your childhood businesses? How can we build a business relationship with Nicholas that will help him learn those lessons?

Steve Richert

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