In college, I ran a snow shoveling business. Well, perhaps it could better be described as a hustle. Yeah. Let’s call it a snow shoveling hustle.
Anyway, I went to school in Southern Indiana where the summers got as hot as satan’s brick pizza oven and the winters got just cold enough to snow.
Snow in Southern Indiana was a rare enough occurrence that whenever it would fall from the dreary midwest sky a handful of times each season, the entire region would freak the hell out.
Shelves would be emptied of bread, eggs and milk and people would hole themselves up in their homes as if the country was under foreign invasion.
And so I would take a break from my school work, reach for my shovel, tie my boots nice and taut and get to knocking.
You learn a lot of worthwhile shit shoveling driveways. While today, nearly six years later, I run a freelance writing business that keeps me inside on snowy days… I still find myself revisiting a few of these gems.
Let’s begin with the shovel.
Shoveling snow with a flimsy shovel is like trying to saw through an oak tree with a plastic knife. So, before you begin you make sure you have a damn good shovel.
The fucker I used was built like a bull and could work like a mule. It had a nice wide mouth on it that could scoop up snow in heaps and it was sharp which made it easy to slice through the ice.
If you can’t see where the shovel metaphor applies to your business, let me help you find a few applications…
It’s damn hard to create a killer product with shitty materials…
It’s damn hard to build a stellar team with shitty employees…
It’s damn hard to drive sales with a shitty website…
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you put in the additional effort to start digging with the right shovel, you’ll find your job to be a hell of a lot easier.
You’re not hunting Moby Dick.
And, so I would take my trusty shovel, throw it over my shoulder and find a drive-way where I could put it to use.
One mistake amateur snow shovelers often make is going after rich neighborhoods with great big 70 foot driveways… assuming they’re going to get paid more.
But, what really ends up happening is the naive little snow shoveler spends all his time shoveling a single stubborn, high-maintenance, ungrateful driveway for 10%-15% more than they could be making shoveling a smaller driveway in a smaller neighborhood owned by folks who are willing to pay a decent amount of money and be wildly grateful for the service.
This is why I would always go knocking in neighborhoods with nice short driveways, say 25–30 feet, and negotiate a price point of $25 — $35.
I could clear out a 30-foot driveway of snow in 20–30 minutes… that’s $50 — $70 an hour… great money for a college kid or anyone, really.
This is yet another gem I apply to my freelance writing business ( and teach others to apply too)…
You don’t need to hunt whales to make a living.
I bring in a good chunk of change each year writing for brands you probably have never heard of. Sure, I land a whale every once in a while, but they oftentimes don’t pay much more than the “30-footers” and can be a bit, dare I say, challenging to work with.
Put some momentum behind your shoveling.
The further along in the day you start snow shoveling, the more difficult it gets. When the days get warmer, the snow melts some and becomes a wet, heavy mess. And, as folks drive in and out of their driveways, they compact the snow making your job feel more like picking ice.
You’re always better off starting your snow shoveling venture earlier in the day and using the momentum of having money in your pocket to carry you through the shit that will inevitably come… the packed down snow and the snow turned to an icy slush.
I’ve found the same holds true for the writing I do today. When I put words to paper earlier on in the day, I’m given the fit of momentum.
(For more on Momentum, check out what Seinfeld used to do when he first started writing jokes).
Give them more than they paid for.
Finally, after I would clear a driveway from top to bottom, I would take a cup of rock salt and sprinkle it on the person’s patio and sidewalk, that way it would keep any lingering moisture on the concrete from freezing overnight.
This is called “giving the customer more than they paid for” and it’s a practice I still apply today over at Honey Copy.
Something I’m notorious for doing with my clients today is sneaking in a “goodie” every once in a while.
If they asked me to write three emails for a sales sequence, I might surprise them with a fourth.
Or, if I’ve worked with them on several occasions, I might give them a 10% discount just to let them know I appreciate their business.
Sprinkling salt on the sidewalk is a good way to let your customers know you care.
But, I digress.
By Cole Schafer.
You gotta check this out — Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.
Originally published at https://www.honeycopy.com on April 2, 2020.