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A Strange Way to Success— The Case of Mr. Rent

What can we learn from the business of doing nothing.



Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN from Unsplash

A man named Shoji Morimoto has become a celebrity in Japan for the most unusual job: doing nothing.

Yes, you read it right.

It all started with a simple tweet back in 2018:

“I offer myself for rent, as a person who does nothing. Is it difficult for you to enter a shop on your own? Are you missing a player on your team? Do you need someone to keep a place for you? I can’t do anything except easy things.”

Basically, Morimoto rents himself for the simplest tasks. People send him offers and he selects the ones he’ll take. He started doing this for free, but he got so many offers over the next months that he had to charge for them to limit the hype.

He has amassed a great following on social media, currently 262.000 on Twitter, and has had more than 3,000 clients since he started offering his unique service.

The whole thing feels bizarre, doesn’t it? But there’s actually a lot to learn from a person not actively marketing himself but succeeding nonetheless.

Here are some lessons we can get from Mr. Rent.

Finding your “thing” and commit to it

Morimoto was 35 years old when he started his new business.

It’s never too late to begin a new career!

After studying Physics, he worked at several jobs but never truly liked any of them. He even tried working as a freelancer but that didn’t work out either.

After feeling he wasn’t good at anything, he thought that maybe he could take advantage of this problem and turn it into a business.

No matter how strange this work looks like, he went along with it and committed despite people telling him that that wasn’t a real job.

You might find your calling in the most unexpected ways, and when it comes, stick to it with all you’ve got.

Start doing it for free

If you look at anybody marketing him or herself online, there’s always something they offer for free.

And that’s no coincidence.

To encourage people to look at you and your work, you have to be willing to offer them something before they decide to spend money on you.

Morimoto started doing this job for free until the demand was so high he had to put a price on it. Once people tried what Mr. Rent had to offer, they found a value they were willing to pay for.

Finding the right surrounding— Japan

A plant needs good soil and climate conditions to thrive, and so does a business.

Shoji Morimoto works solely in Japan, a culture where loneliness has become a serious issue that’s been difficult to deal with. They’ve created specific words that show how widespread this problem has become:

  • Kodokushi: lonely deaths. People die alone and remain undiscovered for days, weeks, or even months.
  • Hikikomori: acute social withdrawal. People willingly lock themselves up in their houses or even in a single room and become socially isolated

It’s become an epidemic that it’s going to get worse over the next decades. According to the Huff Post, a total of 18.4 million adults live alone, and by 2040 over 40% of the population will live solo.

In this context, Morimoto has an offer difficult to resist: be there for you. He’s accompanied a women to sign her divorce papers because she didn’t have anyone else to go with her, he’s been asked to sit behind a man on a civil trial to make him feel supported by someone, and many other situations like these.

For this kind of job, Japan looks like the perfect fertile soil.

Be completely transparent with what you offer

Mr. Rent is very straightforward about his services.

This is how he offers himself today on Twitter:

I will lend you a person (me) who does nothing. We are always accepting. You will only get 10,000 yen, transportation expenses from Kokubunji Station, and other expenses such as food and drink (if any). Please use DM for requests and inquiries. I can’t do anything other than eating, drinking, and giving easy responses.

He basically offers three things: drink, eat, and do the simplest of tasks.

There’s no hidden agenda. There’s no embellishment to his offer. It’s as simple as it gets. The client knows what he or she will get for their money.

And if you think this kind of advertising doesn’t attract attention, you’d be amazed by the results. Mr. Rent gets 2 to 3 offers a day. So if he takes two of these jobs a day for $95 profit, he’ll be earning $950 per week and approximately $3,800 per month.

Not bad right?

The Takeaway

First of all, yes, there’s a business of doing nothing.

Once you recover from that (I surely am trying), you’ll see that Shoji Morimoto tapped into an excellent business opportunity that has brought him much success unintentionally.

The way he set it up (by being himself, offering it free first, and being completely straightforward about his offer) and solving a very common problem in his environment (Japan’s loneliness issue), he was able to thrive with his simple business model.

Once you read about his case (and I hope after reading this article), it starts to make sense and it doesn’t feel like a far fetched idea.

His case proves that there’s room for every idea, no matter how strange it may sound. And it’s up to us to embrace it fully and build from there on, creating our own reality around us.

Are you ready to pursue your idea?

By Pavle Marinkovic on .

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