As a man of few words, actions definitely speak louder for 18-year-old entrepreneur Mike Gillespie from Lawrencetown in the Annapolis Valley. Instead of talking about his achievements, which are many, you can tell he’d much rather be outside working.
When Gillespie was 13, he borrowed his mom’s old push mower and walked around the neighbourhood looking for customers. He quickly worked his way up to 10 lawns that first summer, and managed to save enough to buy himself a whipper-snipper. The next spring, a customer lent him the money to buy his first ride-on, and true to his word, he paid her back every last penny by the end of that summer.
It was during a high school class that Gillespie heard about the Students in Business program, and he quickly took advantage of it. “The $5,000 loan I got last year from the Students in Business program really helped me grow my business,” says Gillespie. The bigger and better lawn tractor he was able to buy meant he could increase his capacity significantly. “I can take on more customers now because I can cover more properties in less time, and with the bagging system on my new tractor, the lawns look even more professional than before,” Gillespie comments.
So how was this full-time high school student able to pay back the loan in full and post a $10,000 profit last summer? “I’m just not one for sitting around,” explains Gillespie, brushing over the fact that his strong business sense might have contributed as well. This talent for business, however, has certainly not gone unnoticed by those around him. His instinctive business sense, hard work and character were just three traits the Association of Community Business Development Corporations (CBDC) applauded when they awarded Gillespie with the 2008 Student in Business award last fall, honouring him for his outstanding business achievements.
Through plain hard work and determination, Gillespie has grown his business from a kid with an old lawn mower to a high school graduate with over $7,000 worth of equipment, a truck to transport it, and over 50 customers from Lawrencetown to Middleton. As he prepares to start the Landscape Technology diploma at the Kingstec Campus of the NSCC this fall, his future certainly looks bright.
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