#Smallbizchat Podcast LIVE is a monthly video interview show where small business owners can get answers to their questions.
The focus of #Smallbizchat is to end small business failure by helping participants succeed as your own boss.
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Nick Ron 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 the House Buyers of America to $50 million in the first three years of business operations. Nick is an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner, and had been featured in USA Today, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, CBS News, ABC, NBC, and FOX. For more information: www.housebuyersofAmerica.com
SmallBizLady: What have been your biggest challenges you had to overcome?
Nick Ron: When I first started House Buyers of America, our first challenge was the lack of experience, which often caused mistakes. While the errors were painful and sometimes costly, we took them as growth opportunities. 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 included hiring industry experts in the areas where we lacked knowledge.
The second challenge we underwent was the 2008 Great Recession. That time 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 all we could from this experience and developed sound principles that helped us get through future downturns.
One of the biggest lessons learned through this period was to be conservative. There was no crystal ball to predict a market crash, and there is not one that will indicate the next one. You must keep your debts low and have healthy cash reserves to weather any storm. Do not get into debt or invest significant money in unproven ventures. The second lesson learned was to continuously improve the business. If you do not improve your technology, your systems will become outdated, and you will lose customers and employees. They will see that your company is not evolving into the future.
SmallBizLady: Top three mistakes you’ve seen entrepreneurs make?
Nick Ron: Not Remaining Humble and Not Asking for Advice
Pride comes before the fall. Know your limitations and realize you have blind spots that can only be corrected by getting advice from others around you and outside counsel.
Not Conducting Low-Cost Tests
The first few years in business, I over-invested in unproven ideas. This resulted in wasted money that could have been avoided had I done low-cost tests. Entrepreneurs are creatively optimistic at heart. Before you invest in a new idea, conduct small tests until the concept is tried and proven. I continue to be an idea maker today, as entrepreneurs always should be, but I have the wisdom now to know that not all my ideas will be home runs.
Not being Persistence or Adaptable
When the market crashed in 2008, some peers went back into IT sales or switched to commercial real estate. They had to start over in a new career and go after a completely different customer base. The grass often appears to be greener on the other side. These people had the mindset that when the tough get going, it is 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 need to navigate and overcome over the next year with the recession looming?
More than ever, it’s important that entrepreneurs do the following:
- Hire outstanding people. To be the best, you must hire outstanding people that specialize in the areas you do not. I have seen many business owners who become overloaded trying to do it all. They never excel in the core functions of their business because they are spread too thin. Recognize your weaknesses and hire people who can fill those voids.
- Building your network of advisors is another key element. Your trusted advisors will become those 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 pull you through inevitable tough times. Gain wisdom from those who have been down the same road and do not try to reinvent the wheel.
- Always maintain healthy margins. If you operate on tight margins in a healthy market, you will never survive a downturn. Therefore, operate with extreme efficiency and always maintain healthy margins!
Unlock Sales Success
Carole Mahoney is the author of Buyer First: Grow Your Business with Collaborative Selling. Carole is changing the way the entire sales industry sees itself — and how buyers see it too. She has been called the “Sales Therapist” at Harvard Business School, where she coaches on sales for their entrepreneurial MBA program. She 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 voted a top sales coach by Ambition. With the heart of a teacher and the spirit of a coach, and she’s ready to share how you can unlock the sales success you’ve never thought possible. For more information: www.carolemahoney.com
SALES TAXES 101
Chanel Christoff Davis is a founding partner and CEO of Davis, Davis & Harmon LLC – the award-winning firm of Sales Tax Experts known as (DDH). Established in 2001, DDH is the largest woman and minority owned sales tax advisory practice in the nation. DDH services corporations by delivering innovative tax solutions that return money to their client’s bottom line. Ms. Davis has 20+ years of experience managing client relations and the day-to-day management decisions of the firm. For more information: www.ddhtax.com
SmallBizLady: Chanel, what made you become an entrepreneur?
Chanel Christoff 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 daily. My firm services a Fortune 15 clientele, and our work is very rewarding. As a kid, I could not have imagined that I would grow up to build the largest woman-minority-owned sales/use tax advisory practice in the world.
SmallBizLady: Are sales taxes different in every state?
Chanel Christoff Davis: Sales tax laws vary in each state. There are only 45 states in the union with a state sales tax law. Five states don’t: Delaware, Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. Sales tax is the most varied and complicated of all the enumerated taxes in the United States.
SmallBizLady: What has been the greatest reward while running your company?
Chanel Christoff Davis: The greatest reward is offering career opportunities and training to the next generation of diverse sales tax experts. I wish there had been a Davis Davis & Harmon LLC to work for when I graduated with a degree in accounting. It would have changed my worldview as a young professional.
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