Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs all dropped out. Does that mean you should too? We staged a debate between two successful young entrepreneurs—one who left school, the other who is adamant about staying enrolled. Who won? You be the judge.
A Fast-Growing Lawncare Company
Emil Motycka grew up on a hobby farm—just a few modest acres of land, nothing too fancy. He loved getting his hands dirty, a lesson his father taught him at an early age. He wasn't ashamed to be called a "farm boy."
"When I was younger my dad would take me past construction sites or farms and talk with the guys, and they'd throw me up on the big machines and let me drive them," Motycka says. "I just thought that was the greatest thing ever."
Back in the third grade, Motycka's teacher prompted his students to find a way to pay for college, should their parents be unable. Emil says he always enjoyed the outdoors and heavy machinery, so lawncare and landscaping naturally "fit the puzzle."
Motycka took his classroom assignment a step further, launching Motycka Enterprises, mowing lawns and groundskeeping for money. He continued his business throughout middle school and high school, enjoying decent success, until one major contract with a school district fell through, causing major money woes.
"They ran out of money, and the state requires they break any contracts," Motycka explains. "I had some equipment on loan, and I had to learn how to fix that."
Motycka had too many eggs in one basket, and his basket broke.
"I think that actually scared me away from business," Motycka admits. "I threw out a lot of money I had saved to get it going, and I learned fast how hard it is to find and hire good people. It all kinda crumbled on me."
Once enrolled in the University of Colorado, Motycka decided to re-enter his old lawn care business.
"The hourly job option wasn't going to pay for what I needed, so I decided to go back to what I knew made money," he says.
After repurposing his company and focusing on target markets and pricelines, Motycka Enterprises began to finally take off.
"I learned to diversify," Motycka says. "Today, instead of just serving one customer, we do a couple hundred customers, so if I lose one, or one doesn't pay, at least I'm not out of cash flow."
While his business was successful, Motycka always had a full schedule. When he wasn't in class, he was working.
"Being the owner and founder, it was hard for me to step away," Motycka says. "It's kinda like my baby."
In his senior year, one of Motycka's professors finally challenged him to force himself out of the equation. Having finally learning to delegate his many responsibilities outward, Motycka hasn't looked back.
"That's actually made the business grow three or four times over," Motycka says.
Motycka is enjoying greater success, making about $250,000 to $300,000 annually, but Motycka Enterprises, LLC is still growing. Recently, Motycka has acquired about seven smaller groundskeeping businesses, and he's looking to add more. His next challenge? Rebrand all of them under one name.
"Buying out companies gives a better return on investments than blindly doing marketing campaigns, in my opinion," Motycka says. "I'm trying to diversify into other maintenance services just to have that year-round, different market."