Grandpapa, my maternal grandfather, his parents and siblings owned a business in Pawtucket, RI.
It was a laundry business before the day when everyone had washers and dryers. They owned the land, the building and the delivery trucks and everyone had a specific job.
My grandfather was in charge of the trucks and delivered himself.
I was his first grandchild and I was in love with his truck. From the age of two, I begged him to take me with him.
He finally did after he drilled into me that there were ‘rules.’
You must be potty trained.
You can’t cry and want to go home.
You must go to the bathroom before we leave.
You must listen to what I say.
You can’t complain about what I fix for lunch.
I agreed and when I was three I started going with him a few days a week. The first time he came for me, I was so excited I dressed up in my Sunday dress and shoes.
I still remember him rolling his eyes at my mom for allowing me to dress that way.
He had rigged what I might call a crude car seat between the two seats and just slightly back. Thinking back, I chuckle what now days would be cause to be stopped by the police.
After a while, I got used to the rules and my grandfather started incorporating me into his business plan. Each time we delivered, he would give me the ticket with the bill and had me ask for the money while he came behind me with the basket of clothes or the clothes on hangers. I would smile really big, give the bill and open up my small purse for the cash and ask for the money.
My first lesson in asking for money!
My grandfather and his family were true entrepreneurs. His parents were the brave ones to start the business. His siblings (there were 8 of them) were the workers in the business but it was my grandfather that knew how to sell and bring in more customers.
When we delivered, the wives would comment on my dresses. Every two weeks, he would ask my grandmother to make me another dress. If he didn’t like my shoes for the new dress before we delivered he would take me to the store to buy new shoes. (My shoe habit was born!)
At times, we would stop to say hello to a customer’s neighbor and I knew to ask if they liked my dress.
He would take me to the playground to have lunch and tell me to go play with the kids from folks that weren’t his customers yet. He would then saunter over and start chatting the moms up.
He was my first coach and I didn’t realize the value he taught me in being an entrepreneur and understanding that the business was to make money so 10 families could have an awesome life.
He didn’t start with the one mistake 99% of business owners do now which is start with - marketing!
Marketing is important but if you can’t solve a problem for your clients and customers and make money doing it, you can’t sustain and grow your business.
Learn to make money and sell your products and services first.
What happens as you get better at this and figure out how you serve your clients well, the right marketing strategy will emerge and you will have the money do not only take care of yourself but invest in your business at a high level and put your purpose further out into the world.
I retired from my delivery job when I started first grade.
Shortly after, the family sold the business. They leased the building for 20 years then sold it and the land. No one in that family had to work again.
My grandfather couldn’t stand not working. He drove a cab for fun until a few years before he died. And he always made the most tips!