The first time I tried making money on my own was a long time ago. I could tell you this romantic story that I wanted to be independent or I realized that I could make money on my own. I could tell you a lot of crap like other entrepreneurs tell you about how their story was all planned since childhood and how they knew what they were doing, but I won't. Mainly because it wouldn't be true, it is mostly about trying things and seeing what sticks.
The allowance that some parents give their kids translates in spanish to "el domingo". El Domingo in turn means "Sunday" and as you might imagine, this means that kids in Mexico get their allowance on Sundays. When I was around 6, I somehow decided that I wasn't getting a big enough allowance and I tried to make money in various ways. I can't remember all of them, but they included doing chores for neighbors, helping around the house and stuff like that.
But I distinctly remember one of my uncles asking me if I wanted to wash his car. I think he offered me something like the equivalent of five bucks. But for a six year old, five bucks can be a huge treasure. I accepted without hesitation and got to work. I had seen how my uncle and grandpa washed their cars so I thought I knew what I was doing.
I grabbed a bucket, some soap and a towel rag and I headed out to the street to wash his Volskwagen Caribe, it looked something like this, I think it's essentially the Rabbit for the US market, except they called it something different in Mexico. I didn't know what I was doing of course and after a while my uncle came out to see what was taking so long.
My uncle helped me finish up the car and eventually it was "washed" but I'm sure it wasn't. My uncle still paid me some money and I thought that was the best thing in the world. From then on I decided to wash other people's cars and see if they would pay me for it. That was a very short lived adventure because for some reason I just couldn't get the windows clean. They always seemed to be dirtier after I worked on them than before I started. I eventually learned how to get a car to be spotless and to do it right. But I just didn't like the work.
You could say that washing cars was my first taste of being an entrepreneur. I learned quite a bit at a young age. Some of those lessons still resonate in the back of my head today. Like, to make sure a window is clean, you have to look at it from three or more angles and different distances, streaks aren't always apparent when you look at the glass directly. This is just like life and any business, you need different perspectives and a good quality assurance approach to minimize mistakes. I eventually got sick of washing cars and had to go back to mom to ask for my "sunday."
Later on, when I was a few years older I made my lunch money by cleaning nintendo game consoles. I would take my friends' nintendo game systems and restore them when they stopped working. Most of the times I would take the whole thing appart and clean it. Just removing the gunk and dirt that accumulated under the buttons fixed most problems. The lesson there was that I could work on stuff that wasn't labor intensive. This also helped spark my love for electronics and computers and technology.
Since then, I've tried countless different ways to make money. I'll list a few of them quickly: In Junior High, I would setup up arm wrestle competitions after another uncle taught me how I could beat stronger kids than me; this was a hit for a long time and I got some really fun cash out of this. I tried selling popcorn on the beach after I saw a vendor that always had a big wad of cash on him; that lasted about 2 hours because I was so tired from walking on the soft sand. I used to get rid of pests for the neighbors with my slingshot; that didn't really pay well because it was more like whac-a-mole, kill one and 2 more would come. I worked at a butcher shop next to my grandpa's business, I was 8 I think. I did this because besides selling meat, the butcher would prepare really good food and sell it. Mostly junk food like pork rinds, fried tacos, and carnitas. But mom wouldn't buy them for me so I figure I'd get them for free if I worked there, I think that lasted 3 or 4 days before I got tired of the smell.
I got really good at basketball trick shots so I would bet on that and made spending cash that way. I did tons of odd jobs for my grandpa, uncles and other people too. As I grew older, in high school I would sell study cheat sheets during days prior to exams. I got really good at using my computer and printer to produce post card sized cheat sheets with all the necessary info to study for a test. Unbeknownst to me, the study "guides" were easily concealable and you can imagine the rest.
I made fun money from all that stuff, it was always fun. More importantly I have learned very valuable lessons about all aspects of entrepreneurship. Combine my ever-growing passion for learning and discovering new things and my fearless approach at trying them and you've got me here today. Running my own company with a great partner, and a pretty focused track towards total financial freedom. All thanks to that first adventure of washing a car for money. I was never afraid to try stuff, and I never thought that failing meant anything more than starting again with a different approach. It all started by washing a car, but in the grand scheme of things, 25 years later I am just getting started and can't wait to see what the next year and five years have in store for me. It's going to be great and I hope you are there to share the ride with me.