Youth, entrepreneurship and lifeguarding: The Tux/Party Guard Story pt. 1
I was sitting on the lifeguard chair at Beaconsfield Heights pool enjoying the sun and surveying the massive crowd of kids circa 2003. Today was a funday, and it was 30 degrees Celsius. I knew the whole community would be coming by for such festivities as the splash contest, greased watermelon, pie-in-the-eye and amazing BBQ. I watched the parents and children pour in through the front gate of the pool, and blew my whistle as the kids would bolt away from their parents towards the pool or their friends…”NO RUNNING!!”. The thing that struck me is how the parents wouldn’t even seem to notice or mind… they would just stroll in and begin chatting with neighbours, oblivious as to where their small ones have just went. Now this is not usually the case at all. In public, “outside” of the gates, children don’t get any further than a few feet away before parents notice and watch like a hawk.
Then it clicked! Like a lightbulb, after having recognized this phenomena for many years but only having the revelation now. It was the lifeguards!! The lifeguards, whose name meant exactly that, were on patrol the second a patron stepped foot in the gate. Parents knew that there were trained professionals, on duty ready to take over the burden of constant surveillance. For one afternoon of sunshine, they can have a drink, chat, read a book and take in the sun, while their kids are completely entertained in games, animation and summer fun all whilst in a safe environment. NO WHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD have I seen parents let their 8 year old child jump off a 3 meter plank, and not even be watching. You see, we basically served as supped up baby sitters, full of enthusiasm, great with the kids and entertaining during games and activities. Lifeguards take a certain pride in this. You see, lifeguards WANT to be lifeguards. It isn’t a job they hate or do not enjoy doing. To be a nationally certified lifeguard takes years of training, courses and investment. They are a rare breed of teenager who take responsibility seriously, and having fun even more so. Kids love ‘em, Parents need them, and hence… PARTY GUARD PARTIES was conceived. I tought…”Why not start a service where parents could outsource the duties of a Birthday party? Or Bar-Mitzvah? Or any party!?”.
Throughout my years (2004-2007) studying Business Management @ Bishops University, I was able to refine the concept into a legitimate business plan. Once I graduated, I was fortunate enough to get a job at 94.7 Hits FM and work as a director in the Promotions Dept…The perfect way to learn the biz and make many valuable contacts. Then, in Feburary 2009, I took my first stab at true Entrepreneuring, and opened up Party Guard Parties in the West Island of Montreal. The idea took off immediately, so fast in fact, we couldn’t keep up with demand! After leaving HITS FM in Dec 2008, it was the first time in my life I literally had to put down “Entrepreneur” under occupation at Customs.
Since then we have grown Party Guard to a full service Kid’s Party company that thrives not only in the West Island, but across Montreal! It wasn’t easy, and I had to take on several other jobs while running Party Guard in order to make things work both financially for the business costs AND my personal life. But NO ONE said being an Entrepreneur was going to be easy! I was told by one of my best professors that I would have to be willing to work 7 days a week, including nights, and then find more time to work.
He wasn’t kidding…