Pounding the Pavement

On a Saturday I had nothing going on but a fire in my bones to move forward and accomplish something. Instead of sitting down with pen and page to plot business ideas I decided to get out and try.

I chose window cleaning for several reasons. Firstly, a cousin of mine had a similar business and it had worked out pretty well for him and his friends. Second, it requires much less capital than most ideas I had kicking around in my head. Then, I have had a bit of experience from working for a janitorial service. Also, heights don’t bother me like they do many people.

So 8:00 Saturday morning I took off for main street. I was nervous but determined. Doing my best impression of Gregory Peck, I strode up to a hardware store. The first thing I did was buy myself a tape measure to help me get an estimate on prospective jobs. I bought the tape and then asked the employee if they would like to get their windows cleaned. The first thing I learned is that the manager makes those kinds of decisions. I also learned that most managers don’t work on Saturdays. Call back on Monday.

I went on to enter another 20 stores and businesses, offering window cleaning services. I learned several more things before I decided I’d had enough. Most businesses don’t open until 9 or 10:00 on Saturdays, and some don’t even open. Mondays are the best time to find managers at work. A business card is very convenient (though I’m glad I could work out some bugs before setting my offer in stone). Most people will want your card to call if they decide they want you. It is good to ask for referrals from everyone and anyone.

Everyone I met was very nice and polite, but, en fin I had contacted about 30 people and still didn’t have any work.

I noticed a couple of buildings that really needed cleaning up on the exterior but they were empty and up for sale or lease. Then I had the idea to call the real estate agency and see if they would let me bid on some of their buildings around town. If I could land a job like that I would be plenty busy and then I’d be able to show the locals my work. I called a couple different agencies and one accepted to let me bid on a building. Though I still didn’t have anything definite, that was enough to keep me from scrapping the endeavor. I felt like that was a decent start and rewarded myself with a doughnut. The bakery took my number but said they already had a regular cleaning.

I kept hearing that a guy came by regularly to wash everyone’s windows and that the guy was handicapped. One employee mentioned that he knew the man and said that he was considering quitting the profession. This was some interesting news. News that just might define the fate of my business. Had I given up after the first few establishments I wouldn’t have learned this valuable insight. It was like one of those omens mentioned in The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.


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