It’s a familiar Philly snow-day sight: kids wandering their neighborhoods, knocking on doors, and offering to shovel snow for cash.
Now, Amin Branch, 10, of West Philadelphia, is putting a professional, social-media-savvy polish on this time-honored hustle. Thursday morning, he and his mother, Nadira, 38, rolled out a Google Form for Amin’s shoveling services, with a pricing plan: $3 for the sidewalk, $5 for sidewalk and steps, a $2 upcharge for salt, and more if you want Amin to dig out your car while he’s at it. In search of referrals, they posted it to Facebook. As for payments, they’ll take those via the CashApp.
Within an hour, they had 14 new clients, Nadira Branch counted — and, to her mind, a number of Facebook shares that was verging on alarming.
“I’m getting nervous now! We probably have to stop,” she said. “I’m definitely going to have to help him because he doesn’t know where a lot of these streets are, so I’ve committed myself indirectly.”
Branch is an entrepreneur herself, as a contract grant writer. Though Amin has other talents — he is, among other things, a U.S. Chess Federation-rated competitive player — she wants to teach him to hustle.
“I always try to find ways to challenge him, to show him to believe in himself and that he can be proactive in his life. He doesn’t necessarily have to ask for a job. He can create his own job and his own opportunities for himself,” she said.
Amin agreed, “I think this will help me in the future, because if you need more money you can just create a business.”
His first time shoveling for cash was last Saturday; Branch figured neighbors were out of town and posted to a local list-serve to offer Amir’s services. Four neighbors signed up, and he made $25, plus tips. Now, the creation of a Google Form is allowing this 10-year-old to obtain something all businesses crave: client information, including names, addresses, e-mails and phone numbers, for future marketing opportunities.
“See how easy this was?” Branch said to Amin (though the hard part, the actual shoveling, wasn’t to begin until the snow slows down). “We got up this morning, and we seized the opportunity.”