People my age sometimes accuse younger generations–millennials and Gen-Zers–of not working as hard as they did when they were kids. Which, of course, is unfair and untrue. Want an example? Take RJ Duarte and Owen Johnson, two high-schoolers in Golden, Colo. who started a landscaping business back in 2014 called Green Worx.
There was no business plan, no venture capital and no bank loans. It was just RJ, who was doing a little yard work on his own. So much work in fact that RJ needed to bring on Owen…and a partnership was started. The two partners, through word of mouth and reputation, soon found themselves busier than ever.
The company now employs a full-time employee and part-time teams of other high-schoolers (at rates above Colorado’s minimum wage) to help with the day-to-day “heavy lifting.” An article in a local newspaper with a circulation of about 19,000 provided all the free advertising needed to get more clients and the two partners, in 2016, found themselves the recipients of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Ernst & Young Foundation.
Oh, and they make money. Lots of it. The now 17-year-olds originally received financing from their parents and a local entrepreneur/mentor and now have grown their business to offer lawn care, clean-up, snow removal and other related services, earning the two more than $100,000 per year, according to this report from Moneyish.
“I found something that I enjoyed doing,” said Duarte, who started doing lawn work as a six-year old, in the report. “It might sound weird, but mowing lawns when you’re little is kind of fun.” The company serves scores of residential and business customers, and counts a waterpark and golf course as its biggest commercial client. The company continues to expand and is now encouraging other young entrepreneurs.
Make no mistake about it: the two owners work hard. They oftentimes start their days during the school year as early as 2:30 AM and frequently do not finish until after dark. Phone calls and client tasks are done during the school day – sometimes to the dismay of their teachers.
“This kid has the drive,” said Duarte’s mother. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life.” It’s impressive, but not surprising. It’s just a couple of hard working Gen-Zers making a difference…and some money.