Start a Business in 1 Day…

About the Experiment

When I was 10 years old, my brother and I were looking for some ways to make extra money and our dad gave us this idea to paint addresses on people’s curbs in the neighborhood. We thought that it was worth a try, so we bought the materials, practiced, and decided that we would start on our spring break. The day came and when I asked my brother if he was ready to go, he informed me that he didn’t want to go through with it. Terrified yet determined to make a few bucks, I headed out the door. I would like to say that the story turned out better than it did, but in reality, I knocked on a couple doors, got turned down and went home embarrassed and disappointed…My first failed business.

Fast forward, 23 years later, I get this email from a blogger that I follow that wrote about how he was able to earn extra money painting curbs (you can read the blog here). What was really strange was that the day before I got the email, my childhood curb painting experience (or lack there of), had popped into my head. I thought this has to be some sort of sign, so I decided the following Sunday I was going to paint some addresses on curbs for my experiment.

The Results

Sunday arrived and I woke up excited to complete my mission – to start a business in 1 day and make a profit. I bought my materials at Lowes for around $35.00 (you can get most of the materials for less than $20.00 but I bought extra paint and stencils) which all fit nicely in a medium sized box.  I got some practice on the curb in front of our house and a couple of my neighbors curbs. Around 11:00, I hit the street.

I knocked on my first door. Palms sweating and heart pounding, I was immediately  transformed into a 10 year old again. The man answered and I nervously rambled my spiel. It was horrible, but it worked.  I got my first sale. ..$15.00 in the pocket…whewhoo.  

I kept going for a few hours and ended up with 8 sales for a grand total of 

$77.00 (I reduced my price on a few of them to get the sale) for 5 hours of work. Considering it was my first day and I was extremely slow, I would consider it a success. 

What I learned

Start Small, Think Big

Starting a super small business that has been done before is a great way to get your feet wet in business. Some entrepreneurs and artists spend years on businesses that never make a profit. This business was able to make a profit the first day, not too bad.

It’s a numbers Game

Although I was lucky and got my first sale at the first person I talked to, it doesn’t usually work like that. It always takes a certain number of nos to get a yes. Even knowing that, I was still discouraged after a few nos, but just when it felt like I wasn’t going to get another sale, I would get one. About 1 in 5 people I talked to bought from me which I thought was pretty good considering, my spiel was not too polished.

Anyone can do this

Pretty much anyone can do this. Say you need grocery money, go out and get a couple cans of paint, some stencils and cardboard, and voila you’re in business. Musicians, what a great way to pay for your tour. Hey, that might be another experiment.

Overall thoughts on the experiment

This experiment was a lot of fun. I met some nice people, provided a valuable service, got some exercise, and made a little cash. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon. 

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6 Responses to Start a Business in 1 Day…

  1. Harold Frink says:

    This was a great story. Interestingly enough, a couple years ago, I met this kid at a park near my house. Actually, we was more like 17/18, not really sure but nonetheless he was younger than I. Through the conversation we had, I learned that he was living in a 1 bedroom apartment with his 2 brothers, mother, sister and a dog. He had told me that we was trying to find a job, but nobody would hire him. He seemed to be a nice kid, seemed to be smart for his age, and extremely personable.

    After several encounters with him at the same park where he would take his dog, i suggested that perhaps he start his own business and become an Entreprenuer, and control his own destiny. Why wait on others, and bring his own success into his life.

    I suggested he start a business just like your curb painting business. I helped him think through the materials, cost and marketing strategy. Fast forward a couple weeks, I hadn’t seen him at all? I wondered what happened to this nice young, energetic kid? One side of me began to worry about him because of the stories he had shared about his life, and current living situation, and lack of money within his household.

    Another week had gone by, and I was out walking my Labrador, as I do every night in my neighborhood. As I was walking by several of the homes, I noticed the numbers had been reprinted on the curbs. Not just one house, but several in the neighborhood. I began to wonder…..was this done by this kid I had met and discussed this great business opportunity with? Did we really act upon this endeavor? I could have only hoped to run into him again, and hear a success story.

    Fast forward 6 months. I had walked into the McDonald’s near my home, and who did I see…..there he was. He ran up to me, shook my hand and nearly started to cry with pure excitement in sharing with me how things started to turn around for him after the many conversations we had in the past, and how he DID start that curb painting business, and made enough money to buy a bike, and help his family buy groceries. It was amazing. He reminded me of myself as a young kid. Always motivated, energetic, and very Entreprenuerial.

    Anyways, reading your story reminded me of this.

  2. steve heard says:

    Hey Stevie – Great story. What was your spiel?
    I found this on the web: "Many house numbers are often obscured by landscaping, are on different places of each home, and commonly are unlit. This can make it difficult to find a house address, especially at night. To help emergency personnel find your house more quickly, add painted house numbers to your curb by borrowing a free Curb Painting Kit from the city's Neighborhood Resources Department by calling (480) 312-3111.
    "Do your part to help public safety and emergency personnel locate your home more easily," says Police Chief Alan Rodbell. "It takes very little time to ensure your street address is clearly visible to ambulance, Police and Fire department teams."

    • Stephen says:

      Hey thanks Steve! My spiel was that I was out educating the neighborhood on the importance of having your address visible for emergency services.

      The day before the experiment I was at Trader Joes and ran into an EMT and asked him how important it was to have your address painted on the curb and he said that it was extremely important because it’s the first place they look.

  3. Jeff says:

    I’ve done this off and on for years. I got the idea from seeing addresses on curbs and knowing they came from somewhere! I use duct tape to sector off a background. Stencils are surprisingly hard to find. I made my own recently, due to eveyone being out. I charge 15 bucks each. I nearly always get the full amount. White background, black forground, vice versa is blurry. I dont know why. Posterboard for edges to coveer up. SUNSCREEN. You WILL get burned if you don’t. Funny thing: Half my yeses started as NO. I liteerally just keep talking and explaining, with a smile, as they shake their heads no. Think about it: I doubled my money by talking no matter what! My speil” Safety. Firefighters, ambbulances, piizza boys, find you when it counts! I made five today, in six hours. 75 bucks!

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