Posted by: rolfsky | December 22, 2009

make millions scrubbing toilets


Every unpleasant activity is an opportunity for you to make money, build a name for yourself, and get ahead. How? Become a professional toilet scrubber.

Admit it, you hate scrubbing toilets. No, seriously you do. Why? Because it’s icky, because it’s time consuming, because it never really works right, and because you could pay someone else to do it for you.

The opportunity here lies in doing things for other people that they don’t want to to themselves. Does that mean you’ll have to do icky things? Well… scrubbing toilets isn’t as bad as you think.

There are a few reasons why any task is “icky”, which all really boil down to a few elements:

  1. uncertainty
  2. repeatability
  3. return on investment

You can apply this pattern to any other undesirable task you like, say, painting your house. It’s easier to pay someone else to paint your house, because you don’t have to be uncertain about the outcome, it gets done every time you spend the money, and you haven’t spent a bunch of unnecessary time and money learning a bunch of skills and buying specialized tools, for something you’ll only do once every 10 years.

The professional house-painter and toilet-scrubber have a few things working towards their advantage:

  1. they know how long this takes
    Humans hate not knowing, it screws up their whole day, week, year. Professionals have done this many times, and can finish the job while still making it to yoga class without breaking a sweat.
  2. they’ve got the skills to pay the bills
    They’ve done this before, many times and they know how to get the best result. Practice does make perfect and they’ve had a lot of practice. No wasted effort or doing it twice here. Their minds are also filled with esoteric knowledge you only get with experience.
  3. they’ve got state of the art tools
    You don’t even know what the art is, let alone the best tools for it. Professionals do, because they rely on their tools and skills everyday. They are optimized for this task at hand and it makes sense to buy that $100 paintbrush if you’re going to be using it every day.

So how to you get rich scrubbing toilets? Pick a task, and get really good at it. The more loathsome, boring, tedious, heinous, disgusting or foul the task, the better. The more equipment, time, or experience required to complete the task well, the better. The fewer people already providing this task, the better. The more people who have this problem daily, the better. The more emotionally sensitive the task, the more irrationally people look at the task, the better.

So find your toilet, love your toilet, own it, dominate it, master the skills, buy the tools. Then when someone groans about that nasty thing, leap to the cause and say, “I’ll scrub your toilet… for $10.”



  1. […] Skyberg – pattern hound – make millions scrubbing toiletsDecember 28, […]

  2. I think this is the context we discussed about API infrastructure management. We’ll do the dirty work, and allow you to focus on the more professionally fulfilling work (strategy, product development, etc). Good — if somewhat icky — analogy. 🙂

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