Young entrepreneur has two great loves, math and mowing
|By Mary Elizabeth Williams-Villano|
He started his own lawn mowing business at age 11.
Ask most teenage boys to mow the lawn, and you’ll get groans, as many suburban dads can attest. There’s one in Burton, Idaho, however, who’ll jump at the chance, according to a story in the East Idaho Business Journal. You’ll have to pay him to do it, though; this 15-year old is already a four-year business veteran, having started his lawn mowing enterprise when he was just 11.
His name is Caleb Tippetts, and he enjoyed mowing his family’s lawn so much that he decided to start mowing other peoples’ for money.
“I’ve always liked being outside working,” he told the reporter. “It just kind of came to me (to mow lawns). It was really fun. I just love being out there and doing stuff rather than sitting inside doing nothing. It’s really fun to be outside and to be in nature.”
Like any good business owner, Tippetts reinvests some of his earnings back into his business. The rest of the money goes towards sports gear and saving for his future mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Parents Sean and Charlene Tippetts have invested in his business, too, having helped him purchase a riding lawn mower, a trailer and a string trimmer.
Mowing season will find him on the job, Monday through Saturday, hard at work on his clients’ lawns. Most yards take him an hour and a half to mow depending on the size. He’ll also edge, rake leaves or do just about anything else his customers ask him to.
While other young people his age have to answer to fast-food shift managers, Tippetts is his own boss. “It’s just me,” he told the story’s writer.
Tippetts says his customers have different reasons for hiring him. “Sometimes there’s not a lot of time for them to mow their lawns. I’ve talked to some people who have their lawns done because they have health problems; they’re older and don’t like getting out to mow the lawn. It takes them a long time.”
He scouts customers by “going around and looking for when the lawns are ready. And sometimes I’ll have people call me and say that they want their lawns mowed.” So far, he has eight clients and wants to grow that number to 20.
Now that it’s spring, this student at Madison Junior High School in Rexburg has already started mowing again after school and on weekends, champing at the bit for the summer break when he can do it full time.
Not that he’s any slacker while he’s in school. During the term, Tippett is a member of the school’s track team, does shotput and discus and plays football. Math is his favorite subject, because “there’s only one right answer” and no speculation as to other possibilities. “There is no question that two plus two equals four,” he says.
“There’s an equation,” he told the story’s writer. “There is a sure way to get the right answer. I like plugging numbers in and getting numbers out” whereas in other subjects, perception often rules. “You write something, and the teacher might like your friend’s better than yours,” he says. “In math, it’s nice to know you got the right answer and had the right equation for it.”
Tippetts is looking forward to going on his church mission three years from now, following high school graduation. “I think it would be really fun to go to a foreign country,” he says. “but it would be good anywhere I go. It’s the same thing; you’re teaching people about the church and serving others.”
Following that, he wants to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he intends to major in engineering. “They’ve got a football program there,” he’s quoted as saying. “It’s a church school, so I wouldn’t have to play on Sundays.”
For now, Tippetts will continue with his business, telling the reporter “I love mowing. I can’t wait for the summer so I can mow again. It’s fun. I like it.”
He urges other young people interested in starting their own businesses to stick with whatever they decide to do. “Don’t quit. It’s so satisfying,” he says in the story. “You’ll be so happy with yourself. Keep pushing through. Even though it’s hard, you’ll learn to love it. You’ll learn to work hard and to keep working hard.”
Watch out for this kid! He may just engineer himself into being your competitor someday.