Earl White is the Vice President and Founder of Heroes of the House, a real estate investment company that operates primarily in Florida. The company buys properties that require a lot of work, renovates them, rents them or resells them. The company struggled to gain customers until it focused its efforts on online marketing.
Why did you start your business?
I was a philosophy and economics student at Rutgers. There isn’t really a job for that, so I went to law school. I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2008. I landed a job with a large law firm specializing in commercial litigation. It was time to move on, because very few people can become partners and I was no longer developing skills. I worked really long hours and had to have my BlackBerry on on weekends and special occasions.
I got a job with the New Jersey attorney general’s office for child welfare matters. I did this for three years. I enjoyed it and was passionate about it. Then my son was born and I knew I wanted something where I could have more control over my schedule, which was never going to happen in litigation. I have been doing real estate part time for 3-4 years. I decided to work from home and start building the real estate company.
How did you finance the business at the start?
We used personal money for things like operations and marketing. When we buy a property, we take out a hard money loan for the property. This is a short term, high interest rate loan that is more geared towards properties in poor condition.
Manage the business
How do you manage the cash flow?
My partner and I get guaranteed partnership payments, which is kind of like a salary for partnerships. We pay our four employees regular W2 income. My partner does all the bookkeeping using QuickBooks. We track our expenses in Excel. We have an expense rate that we discuss monthly. We project income per month. We follow how they move together. When we increase the amount that comes in over the amount we pay, we decide to invest in new things like increased marketing, bonuses, and new lines of business.
What is the most difficult thing in running a business?
Find deals. Connect with the people who need our service.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running a business?
The flexibility of my schedule. I can work when I want. I still work hard, but I have decided never to work from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. I spend this time with my wife and my son. In addition, between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., I prepare breakfast for my family. I’m not running to court.
What I learned
What’s the biggest mistake you made at the start?
We underestimated the importance of having an online presence. We also didn’t appreciate having online social media reviews from real people. This created a trust issue with the people we connected with through marketing. When I realized what was going on, I devoted a lot of my time to our online presence and getting testimonials. It made the biggest difference, that’s for sure. It helped people trust us.
What’s the smartest thing you did at the start?
My partner and I have always had a long-term vision. If we had a short-term view and expected to make a lot of money, that would have been very disappointing, as we don’t really make that much in the first couple of years. Our goal has always been to keep building. We have doubled our income every year. Things are really taking off this year – we’ll probably do more than that because of the work we’ve done on the website.
In addition, we have been honest and transparent with people. That’s how we got the testimonies that we have. We have always provided the service that we said we were going to provide. That’s why we’ve never had a negative review on social media.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Create an online marketing strategy before you even start. You can test and see if people are looking for your service online. Have a solid marketing plan that explains how you’re going to get business.
What’s next for House Heroes?
We want to expand more into rental properties for long-term wealth building instead of constantly changing homes. We want to focus on passive income instead of staying on the treadmill of always doing business.
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