Time for Part II of my about me posts. In this post I am going to catch-up right where I left off after my freshman year in high school. If you haven’t had a chance to read Part I, click the link here to read!
Freshman year ended up going extremely well for me. Not only from an athletic perspective, but also from an academic perspective. Math was always my subject while I would continuously struggle with English and Social Studies. Something about numbers and solving difficult problems was extremely intriguing to me.
Being a competitive tennis player brings an expense most might not think of. Have you ever seen a professional tennis player pop a string on their racket? Probably not too often. The main reason professional players don’t break strings often is the fact they have freshly strung rackets for each match. Ever wonder why they pull out a racket from their bag and it comes in a plastic wrapping? Well, this is because they have 5-10 different rackets in their bag that are all strung to different tensions. Based off conditions or how the individual is feeling, they will use a different tension on their racket.
Historically, I didn’t pop strings that often, but as I became bigger and stronger (now 5’ 11” and 120 lbs watch out! haha) there was more of a need for me to have my rackets restrung every week. At your typical country club this would cost $25 per racket plus any cost of the string you wanted to purchase (typically an additional $10-20). As my parents were very frugal and didn’t like to spend money, they started to quickly figure out this would not be affordable in the long term. So, what did they decide to do? Instead of paying someone else to string our rackets, they told my brother and I they would buy us a racket stringing machine if and only if we agreed to string our own rackets.
For those of you that have no idea what a stringing machine looks like, here is a picture for reference 😊
Being a naïve young teenager, I did not like this idea at all. Why would I want to learn how to string tennis rackets when I could have my parents pay for someone else to do it? Oh man did my money mindset have to make a big shift. Looking back, I should have easily been able to understand what my parents were trying to do. Save Money so we could Live Better (Walmart, plug).
The beginning of the Mindset shift:
My brother and I finally agreed to the deal. Sure enough, one week later we had the above stringing machine in the middle of our game room with my brother’s high school tennis coach teaching us how to string our own rackets. The stringing machine my parents purchased came with 2 different reals of strings (each real string will get you roughly 20 rackets). Huge win already!
The process of stringing a tennis racket when you are first learning how can take upwards of an hour and a half. My brother and I learning how to string were no exception to this. As I went to school the next couple of weeks, I began telling my teammates about my parents buying my brother and I a stringing machine. Unexpectedly, my friends started to become more and more interested in how my stringing abilities were coming along and whether I could tell a difference between a racket I strung versus one strung by a country club pro. Within two months I had mastered the art of stringing a tennis racket to the same standards you would expect from a professional from a country club.
I now had this unique skill and ability that very few had. So, what did I decide to do? $$$$$$$ Time to monetize my unique ability. At word of a friend breaking a string at practice, I would ask them if I could string their racket. The first question they asked back, “How much do you want?” Ummmm, well I hadn’t thought this through that much. Knowing the cost of getting a racket strung by a country club of $25 (plus money for the string, $10-20 more), I froze and told a friend $15 plus they provide the string. I could tell they were contemplating whether I was worth the risk. So, I decided to sweeten the deal a little more. I would add free string, so their total cost would be $15. My friend immediately accepted the deal, I mean how could you resist such an amazing offer 😉
Time to Get to Work!
Oh boy. What had I just done?!?! Did I really get a friend to agree to allow me to string their racket for money? How was I going to get my homework done for tomorrow and be able to deliver the racket in the morning?! I had never had a job before and the thought of earning money for using a unique ability I had was intriguing. I took my friends racket, strung it that night, and returned it to them the next morning. In exchange they paid me $15. An hour and a half’s worth of work and I made $15. $10/hr, not bad at all! Did I just start a business at 15!?!?
Woah…my first ever transaction. Word started getting around to everyone on the team. Before I knew it, I had 5 different teammates giving me their rackets to string. As I started to string more and more rackets, I naturally got faster at stringing. What used to take me 90 minutes started taking me 60, then 50, then 40, 30, 20, and finally 15. Holy crap. What had I started. I could now charge $15 and I would be able to string 4 rackets in an hour. Sign me up! I was now making $60/hr stringing rackets. Yes, I was directly exchanging my time for money, but I was a 15-year-old teenager making $60/hr. All I saw was money coming in. The ability to make money at a young age started getting somewhat addictive.
Before I knew it, everyone in my town knew I provided great quality, fast turnaround, and a great customer experience. The entrepreneurial money mindset was born!
- You are never too young to develop unique skills in which you can monetize
- Have a game plan before you put your services out on the market! I was a naïve 15-year-old who had no concept of starting a side hustle business. I had not thought of pricing, ability to scale, and how to market. All things I wish I would have known more about now looking back.
- Exchanging your time for money at an early age isn’t a bad thing (in my opinion). I know this might be a little controversial, but I think the biggest thing this venture taught me was how to have a great work ethic and be diligent with my time. It isn’t easy spending 1-2 hours each night stringing rackets when you have other responsibilities like homework, sports, and hanging out with friends.