Discovering Real Estate Fundamentals With Firewood

When I was 13, I started selling firewood with my friend Donny. On the weekends we’d go up to his family’s cabin in Georgetown, and Donny’s dad put us to work chopping firewood. One afternoon a neighbor came by and offered to buy some of the wood. Suddenly it dawned on me, we could make money from this!

At the time, I didn’t know much about selling, but what I did know I learned from watching my dad. We called him a “wheeler and dealer because he was always talking someone down from a higher price whether at the flea market or the car dealership. He always came out on the best side of a deal because he was an expert negotiator.

Selling A Better Solution

Donny and I became experts at firewood and I applied the lessons I learned from my dad to selling firewood. We’d pile what we cut in the mountains into Donny’s dad’s truck, drive back to Sacramento, unload the wood into a small wagon, and go door to door selling three varieties: Douglas fir, oak, and pine. We knew oak, a hardwood, would take the longest to burn. “So, you want the Douglas fir,” I’d say to a potential customer. “It’s the cheapest, but the oak will last longer.” Boom. The customer left with a bundle of oak in hand.

I didn’t fully understand the rationale at the time, but I knew in my core I was selling more than just wood. I was selling a better solution.

Firewood selling was seasonal work at best and it didn’t last long. But as a kid, making $40 a weekend, I felt like a millionaire.

What was your first business idea? Did you try it? Comment below or tweet me!