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

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

by Nick Scheidies and Nick Tart on January 12, 2010 · 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?

40 Entrepreneurship Quotes You've Never HeardDon’t miss 38 more inspirational quotes from crazy-young kids like Emil:
40 Entrepreneurship Quotes You’ve Never Heard >>

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Agent Deepak January 12, 2010 at 2:26 am

Nice. Entrepreneurship just do not come automatically, you need to learn it and earn it.

For running a business you need determination and passion. When you are not getting the results you wanted, Passion helps keeping you in one piece. I love the statement from Emil that we need work ethic.

Without Work Ethics you just a Parasite to the Comunnity.
.-= Agent Deepak´s last blog ..Blog with a Sex Appeal =-.

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2 Nick Tart January 12, 2010 at 10:47 am

That’s great advice, Deepak! And you’re absolutely right, there are plenty of parasites in this world. Whether it’s in business or not, we can all learn from Emil’s work ethic.

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3 Tom | Build That List January 13, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I love how his parents didn’t try to force him to do anything. Im sure it allowed him to grow his business skills very quickly.
.-= Tom | Build That List´s last blog ..RSS Subscribers VS Email List | Which Is Better? =-.

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4 Nick Tart January 13, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Yeah, I think most parents would consider their 13-year-old to be crazy if the kid asked for them to co-sign an $8,000 loan. I doubt I could do that. Thanks for the comment, Tom! I like your site.

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5 Dinesh January 14, 2010 at 9:41 am

Nice man, if a 13 yrs can do such a thing why can’t we.
.-= Dinesh´s last blog ..Default https access for Gmail =-.

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6 Nick Tart January 14, 2010 at 11:16 am

You know, that’s a great point Dinesh! What Emil is doing collectively with is business is fairly challenging. But when you take a look at the little day-to-day tasks that he is doing, it seems easy. Thanks for the comment!

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7 Akash | AM Blogger January 14, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Time + Hardwork = Success
Money + Mind = 2 X Money.

If you work hard and give time to your work you will surely get success.

If you have money to invest and if you have a sharp mind then you can easily double your earnings.
.-= Akash | AM Blogger´s last blog ..Google Got A New Makar Sankranti Logo =-.

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8 Nick Tart January 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm

That’s some interesting advice, Akash! I’ve never heard it put that way but you’re absolutely right. Thanks for your unique insight!

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9 Nick Z June 15, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Nice interview Nick! I have 2 businesses of my own, and sure have and am having ten experiences Emil has had.

Hey, who said bill gates had it easy when he was starting Microsoft?

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10 Nick Tart June 16, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Yeah, Emil is an incredible inspiration to a lot of people. He has no idea. He thinks he’s normal except for a sickeningly hard work ethic.

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11 Billy Kirsch January 19, 2011 at 11:35 am

So inspiring. I still need six hours of sleep per night, although I wish I didn’t!

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12 Nick Tart January 19, 2011 at 11:26 pm

You think you need six hours of sleep, Billy ;).

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13 DJ April 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Hey!

I just had a customer send me an email about how she regards me communicating with her to be excessive and it’s spam because she is real busy. Over the winter I sent no more then 2 emails (1 on Snow Removal, 1 About sending us a review) I also in the last two weeks have tried calling her 3 times leaving a voicemail twice about rather or not she wanted lawn care service or not this summer. Is this too much?

By reading your book I thought this to be appropriate…

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14 Nicholas Tart April 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Hey DJ! No, that’s not excessive. It’s pretty much exactly what Emil does. And I’m glad you call them more than email.

As you’ve found, it’s impossible to make everyone happy. Take and implement advice from your customers, but a lot of that advice will be contradictory based on varying personal preferences. Maybe just pull her off your email list.

When in doubt, err on the side of too much communication.

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15 Robinsh May 17, 2013 at 9:38 am

I’m still not able to spell the word ‘entrepreneur’ that means I’ll not be able to become an entrepreneur ever ?

:(

Anyway I’m working on a project and scheduled it’s launch 60 days from now, let’s see what happens and how I would adjust with the change of my life.

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16 Sander May 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I got the same problem as Robinsh, oh well it looks so easy sometimes. But when I actually want to start my own business it ends up with paying more bills then getting income, one day followers and trying to restart every month. It’s all nice and gently these stories but it doesn’t really help you out to become one of them or even join them.

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17 Kaycee September 23, 2013 at 11:03 am

Why did you start your business.

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