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#Smallbizchat aims to end small business failure by helping participants succeed as your own boss.
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Nick Rohn is the founder and CEO of House Buyers of America (HBOA). He is an industry veteran with over 20 years of experience as a real estate investor. He founded HBOA in 2001, selling homes through his hybrid real estate model that balances technology with human, on-the-ground expertise. Nick grew America’s Homebuyers to $50 million in his first three years in business. Nick is an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner and has been featured in USA Today, Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, CBS News, ABC, NBC and FOX. For more information. www.housebuyersofAmerica.com
SmallBizLady. What have been your biggest challenges that you have had to overcome?
Nick Rohn: When I first started House Buyers of America, our first challenge was a lack of experience, which often led to mistakes. While mistakes were painful and sometimes costly, we embraced them as opportunities for growth. Every time we made a mistake, we built systems to prevent us from repeating those mistakes. You never want to make the same mistake twice. The second action we took to overcome inexperience involved hiring industry experts in areas where we lacked expertise.
The second challenge we completed was the Great Recession of 2008. The period could not have been worse for real estate. Challenges included everything from housing inventory to financial constraints across the board. We literally went through two years of hell, but we learned everything we could from this experience and developed sound principles that helped us overcome future setbacks.
One of the biggest lessons learned during this period was to be conservative. There was no crystal ball that predicted a market crash, and none that predicted what would come next. You need to keep your debt low and have healthy cash reserves to weather any storm. Don’t go into debt or invest large amounts of money in unproven ventures. The second lesson learned was continuous business improvement. If you don’t improve your technology, your systems will become obsolete and you will lose customers and employees. They will see that your company is not growing into the future.
SmallBizLady. The top three mistakes you’ve seen entrepreneurs make.
Nick Rohn: Don’t stay humble and ask for advice
Pride comes before fall. Know your limitations and recognize that you have blind spots that can only be corrected by seeking advice from the people around you.
Don’t run cheap tests
In my first few years in business, I overinvested in unproven ideas. This resulted in wasted money that could have been avoided if I had done the low cost tests. Entrepreneurs are creatively optimistic at heart. Before investing in a new idea, run small tests until the concept is tested and proven. Today, I continue to be an idea generator, as entrepreneurs should always be, but I now have the wisdom to know that not all of my ideas will be household items.
Not being stubborn or adaptable
When the market tanked in 2008, some partners went back into IT sales or moved into commercial real estate. They had to start over with a new career and go after a completely different client base. Often the grass seems greener on the other side. These people had the mindset that when trouble starts, it’s time to quit. This never made sense to me. Long-term real estate is a promising industry if you adapt. I knew it would eventually recover.
What are the top 3 issues entrepreneurs will need to navigate and overcome over the next year with the looming recession?
More than ever, it’s important that entrepreneurs do the following:
- Hire great people. To be the best, you need to hire outstanding people who specialize in areas that you don’t. I have seen many business owners who are overwhelmed trying to do it all. They never exceed their core business functions because they are so thin. Know your weaknesses and hire people who can fill those gaps.
- Building your network of advisors is another important element. Your trusted advisors will become the ones you turn to for advice in areas where you lack experience. They will give you vision in areas where you have blind spots. They will save you from pitfalls and help you overcome the inevitable hard times. Gain wisdom from those who have been down the same path and don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
- Always maintain healthy edges. If you operate on tight margins in a healthy market, you will never survive a downturn. Therefore, operate with extreme efficiency and always maintain a healthy margin.
Unlock sales success
Carol Mahoney “The first buyer. is the author of Grow Your Business With Affiliate Marketing. Carol is changing the way the entire sales industry sees itself, and how buyers see it too. He has been named a “Sales Therapist” at Harvard Business School, where he leads sales for their entrepreneurial MBA program. He is also the President of the AA-ISP Boston Chapter, has been named a Top Sales Influencer by LinkedIn and Sales Hacker, and has been named a Top Sales Coach by Ambition. With the heart of a teacher and the spirit of a coach, he’s ready to share how you can unlock sales success you never thought possible. For more information. www.carolemahoney.com
SALES TAX 101
Chanel Christoff Davis is a founding partner and CEO of Davis, Davis & Harmon LLC, an award-winning firm of sales tax experts known as (DDH). Founded in 2001, DDH is the nation’s leading women- and minority-owned sales tax advisory practice. DDH serves corporations by providing innovative tax solutions that return money to their client. Mrs. Davis has 20+ years of experience managing customer relationships and day-to-day company management decisions. For more information. www.ddhtax.com
SmallBizLady. Chanel, what made you want to become an entrepreneur?
Chanel Christophe Davis. Entrepreneurship is in my DNA. I love building teams, hiring and retaining talent, creating business strategies to grow our enterprise, and solving complex problems every day. My company serves Fortune 15 clients and our work is very rewarding. As a child, I could not have imagined that I would grow up to build the largest female-owned minority sales/use tax advisory practice in the world.
SmallBizLady. Are sales taxes different from state to state?
Chanel Christophe Davis. Sales tax laws vary from state to state. There are only 45 states in the Union that have a state sales tax law. Five states did notDelaware, Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon. Sales tax is the most varied and complex of all the enumerated taxes in the United States.
SmallBizLady. What has been the greatest reward in running your company?
Chanel Christophe Davis. The biggest reward is offering career opportunities and training to the next generation of diverse sales tax experts. I wish I had Davies Davies & Harmon Ltd working when I finished my accounting degree. It would change my worldview as a young professional.
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