Thrown From the Nest: Moving out Ignited Business Spark for Car-wash Entrepreneur
While human beings are generally wired differently, Tony believes the Creator went a yard further on him. From childhood, his mother would often remark of him ‘being too grown up’ for his age. He was different.
Tony didn’t like playing estate soccer or hang out with his peers. He couldn’t find anyone in his circle who liked crossword and jigsaw puzzles enough to make a friend.
Despite growing in a relatively comfortable middle-class household, the urge to move out hit as soon as Tony did his high school papers. His mother flat out refused. He couldn’t explain why, but – to be honest – he didn’t know why.
To her chagrin, he moved out – to a tiny bedsitter on the outskirts of town.
The house was quite bare – his old mattress, a kerosene stove, two pots and a few bowls. He’d picked a few oranges off his mother’s fruit rack. As Tony sprawled on the mattress, chewing an orange – he realized it’s the freedom! He was an adult, finally!
Well, just a week in – it dawned on what adulting is all about.
See how people learn to swim, starting slow? Some exercise on dry land – breathing exercises – starting on the shallow end to polish skills till you can strike out on your own? Moving out is nothing like that.
It’s more like jumping in a pool without being able to swim, but you don’t know you can’t swim until you hit the water. You thought you had it all figured out (I mean, how hard can it be, right?), and before you know it, you’re waving your arms around not knowing what to do.
Tony needed stuff. Food to eat. Soap for laundry. Some oranges not from his mother’s fruit rack. While he’d never liked TV in his family home, he started missing the background noise. To walk back home was not an option. No, he couldn’t face the silent I-told-you-so’s in his mother’s eyes.
Tony walked to a car wash lot in the neighborhood, asked for the manager – and asked for work.
“Ah, alright. You start tomorrow…” Says the guy, sitting on a tall wicker chair.
The car wash was ran on an interesting business structure. Tony wouldn’t earn a salary, or wages – instead, he’d solely source for his clients. He’d work on their cars – and, he’d pay a modest Ksh100 to the manager for every car.
No one cared how much he charged per car. There were a few other guys hanging around.
Tony was new. He didn’t have any ready clients. That’s where his mother came in. He called her, broke the news and asked to clean her car. Trust maternal love, she drove across town – his son’s first client.
As she paid and tipped – perhaps, too heavily – Tony coaxed her to bring him her friends.
Tony was shoddy at first, but as he gained experience so did his client base grow. He built a reputation for his consistency, and honesty. Suddenly, he had too many clients to handle.
At this point, Tony had to learn something new: Polish his people skills – as the need to outsource labor arose.
As soon as the car wash opened, he’d approach a few friends – and coax them to accept some of his clients. He’d be getting a cut, acting as the car-wash agent. It worked. The idea flourished, money started flowing in.
He’d throw in client bait like wax polish and car interior scents at no extra cost to the client, on their 3rd visits.
It certainly felt good earning money. There’s such excitement buying new stuff! A few weeks back, Tony wouldn’t think of himself running a bank account. Now, he had an active personal and business account at Co-op Bank account.
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