Sometimes it’s the youngest members of society that make the strongest entrepreneurs.
Botha resident Dion Proudfoot, 12, is already a seasoned young business man as the owner of DJ’s Poop Scoop and Lawn Care Services.
He’s also been recognized for his efforts, placing in the Best Yardwork Company category in this year’s Best of Stettler Readers’ Choice Awards.
“I started when I was nine years old,” explained Dion during a recent chat. He recalled that at the time, he felt it was important to earn some extra money as there were some financial pressures at home.
“I also wanted some of these cool gadgets and toys and everything, and sometimes we couldn’t pay for those. So I was thinking that I wanted to make my own money,” he added with a smile.
Things started simply with an offer to clean up dog waste, but it wasn’t long before his list of clients – and his list of services that he was willing to provide – started to grow significantly.
“Then it became mowing, and then it grew to include all-seasonal kinds of things from leaf removal to snow removal – all that kind of stuff,” he explained, adding that besides seeking a means to make some extra money, the business idea was also sparked when his mom asked him to help clean up some dog waste off a friend’s yard and make some cash at the same time.
Today, Dion works in Halkirk, Gadsby, Stettler, Botha and Castor.
He certainly keeps busy as of course he has schoolwork to complete as well. But Dion is happy with his very full schedule, which also includes TaeKwonDo.
“During school, I either do some of the work on weekends or after school,” he explained.
For Dion, the work isn’t just a means to make some extra money. “I like to make people happy when they see their yards look nice,” he said, adding that when the pandemic finally does fade away, he’s planning to expand the business further by hiring his sister. “She wants to work, too,” he said.
But these days, it’s a one-man operation.
And Dion, who is certainly a friendly and dedicated young man, is up to the challenge.
For other young people who might be considering starting up a similar venture, Dion suggests beginning with one’s neighbours. “Try with your neighbours, and once you done that, just keep trying to work here and there,” he said.
As for his own set of loyal customers, Dion is also grateful for the consistently positive feedback he hears as to his work. It’s not surprising, considering his focus when it comes to doing his best.
He’s also considerate of others, said his mom Brittany.
“It also keeps people safe in the winter time, so they don’t slip on the ice,” he added of his clients, many of whom are seniors. “I just like cleaning up yards – it makes it look nice and if people walk by, they can also see that your yard looks really nice,” he explained.
But as mentioned, it doesn’t stop there – Dion is willing to pretty much help out with anything.
One lady needed assistance with the washing of her walls and he was happy to help out.
As to placing in this year’s Best of Stettler, Dion said he was shocked to hear the news. “I’ve never had anything like this before, so it also made me kind of nervous,” he added with a laugh.
Meanwhile, Brittany is very proud of her hard-working – and generous – son.
In some special circumstances, he won’t even accept payment, she said.
His mom said that at other times, he will only charge what the client can afford at the time, too. “Or what they think is reasonable.”
It all works out well, because other clients who pay the regular fees will often give him a bit more because they know, in turn, that he will often provide services free to a senior client, for example.
“I’m super proud of him – he’s always been an old soul,” Brittany said, adding that when she learned of her son’s honours in this year’s Best of Stettler, it made her feel emotional.
Brittany also won an award for her photography as well. “It didn’t even dawn on me that I had won because I was so concentrated on the fact that he – at 12 years old – got so much recognition.
“He is polite – he is very, very polite,” she added. “And he is very willing to help.”