Entrepreneurship: A Growing Mantra

My story of my entrepreneurship history continues today as we look at my second time I sparked an interest in business. If you haven’t read my first story, you can check it out here and then pick back up with this story.

We flash forward to when I was 13. I was in 7th grade and I was inspired to start a business. I wasn’t sure what business I wanted to start, so after talking to my dad again. What he suggested to me was surprising. He said I should become a paperboy. He and my mom talked and they agreed that it would be a good job for me to learn the value of work. They agreed that they would help me out with the dreaded Sunday paper — those that have never delivered, we would have to deliver the Sunday edition by 6:00AM — so that I would not be out all night by myself.

The paper route I had was 5 blocks by 3 blocks, and about 250 houses. After school got out, I would race home, start folding papers and get them in my bags so that I could hop on my bike and ride to the are of the city where my paper route was. The important thing here was that I had a system in place. A system, that I learned was important to have in any job. My prior job — selling magazine subscriptions — I didn’t have a system. So I quickly failed to figure out how to keep it going successfully.

My system for Monday through Satuday’s paper was great. By the time I got home from school — or soccer games on Saturday — my papers would be delivered. My mom would make me a snack, usually apple slices or something quick that I could eat, and then I’d get started folding papers. Before I got started, I’d make sure I’d have everything set up. I’d get out the rubber bands, I’d get my paper bags out of the closet, and finally cut the bundles of papers, so I could start folding them. The system would look something like this:

  • Three fold the paper
  • Put it in a bag (if it was raining or snowing or there was a chance of either)
  • Wrap a rubber band around it.
  • Put the finished product in my bag

I would repeat this process until all the papers were done. I would also count them to make sure that I had enough. If they shorted me copies, I’d stop by the office and get more copies. After all, the office was on my way to the block I would start. I would get them all folded and packed within 45 minutes. Sunday’s papers were a different story all together.

This system taught me a lot about how to do things in a certain order. If I didn’t have this system in place, I wouldn’t make it down to the office in time to get more papers. I would have papers that were wet and the customers would be upset. I wouldn’t make the time the papers had to be delivered by. All sorts of things would go wrong.

Eventually all good things have to come to an end. I ended up quitting this job, to pursue school sports. But I’ll never forget that my 12 months as a paperboy taught me to always have a system in place before starting anything I was going to work on. As I freelance on many projects I’ve learned that having a system in place for starting projects, maintaining projects, and handing off work to clients. It’s important for people to have systems in place. They help keep us organized, structured, and able to keep pieces moving.