Interview: Emil Motycka, From 'Mow Boy' to Lawn Mowing Enterprise

Emil Motycka Interview: From ‘Mow Boy’ to $135K

by Nick Scheidies and Nick Tart · 32 comments

By the time he was in the eighth grade, at 13-years-old, Emil had taken out his first loan: $8000 to purchase a commercial lawn mower. He paid off his four-year loan in two years.

It was the beginning of Motycka Enterprises, LLC (now Emil’s Lawns) – a company which currently provides work for about 65 people in Northern Colorado. Motycka Enterprises offers everything from building and janitorial maintenance to lawn care, tree care, snow removal, and even Christmas light installation. The company helped Emil to earn $135,000 his senior year of high school.

Emil is currently a senior at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business, in Boulder, Colorado.

The following is a short excerpt from 50 Interviews: Young Entrepreneurs (Volume 1).

Q. What is the single most important reason for your success?

A. I think it’s my good looks [laughs]. Actually, I think we’d be bankrupt if we put it on that.

The real answer is work ethic and determination. If the job’s not done then it’s not done, but it will be done before I quit. I only leave a job once it meets my standards – and I have very high standards, being OCD to a degree.

Although I love it, sleep is for the weak – I sleep four hours a night on average. There’s never enough time and if I’m doing something unproductive, it might be fun in the moment but I feel like I wasted that time and I can never get it back. That’s okay every so often, but I would rather put that time and energy into something more productive.

I have heard that the best learning environment isn’t one in which you’re given the answer, but one in which you’re given the environment to learn the answer.

Entrepreneurship is about getting a really good environment, but with no answers. That’s pretty much how I run my business: if it works, I’ll keep doing it and, if not, then I’ll have to adjust. There’s so much to learn about business and how it works, its impacts and potential, so it’s a fascinating field to study and be in.

I see entrepreneurship as the most fascinating and exciting career path. It’s limitless – financially, intellectually, and socially.

Q. How have people around you reacted to your success?

One of Emil's trucks, trailers and mowers.

A. When I was younger, even though they respected my work, my friends would say, “What are you doing this weekend? Still mowing those lawns, huh? Well, that stinks because we’re going to the pool this weekend and you should come…but you can’t.”

It eats at you after a while. But it turned around when I got older and could drive and I could choose, “Which one of my five trucks do I want to drive to school today?” Or when you actually had your own money to take girls out on dates – not allowance money mommy and daddy gave you.

For my family, I know that I have made them proud. My parents let me chart my own course with the business, as long as I was enjoying it. They weren’t going to step in and intervene. So I haven’t seen any special treatment, except when I need a little bit of financial help. Since they are both entrepreneurs, they know what it takes to run a business and they aren’t going to sugarcoat it. They aren’t going to feel sorry for me when I have to work long hours.

Q. Anything else you would like to add?

A. I didn’t think of what I did as being an entrepreneur until I won some awards and that funny word happened to be in the title. I think kids need to not be afraid of the word ‘entrepreneur’. It took me a while just to learn how to spell it.

What I’ve done isn’t hard. Anyone can do it. I’m not a genius, nor do I come from a wealthy background. I’ve built my business from the ground up and today it’s my baby, a child I am hoping to raise to serve as my retirement account when I get older – much like my mom’s plan for me [laughs].

This is an abridged version from Emil’s interview in our latest project, 50 Interviews: Young Entrepreneurs. Emil is one of the most fascinating people I have ever met. Despite what he says, he works sickeningly hard and has incredible advice for young entrepreneurs.

Emil Motycka’s Top Quotes

“Start today, not tomorrow. If anything, you should have started yesterday. The earlier you start, the more time you have to mess up.”

“The biggest failure you can have in life is not trying at all.”

Read more of Emil Motycka’s story here.

Want even more inspiration?

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