Q.1 Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Ans. New Again Houses is a national franchise that purchases houses with cash. We add real value to homes with our construction ecosystem, leveraging our national scale through local franchise owners.
Q.2 Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans. I was raised in a home of aspiring first-generation entrepreneurs. After graduating from King University and earning a graduate degree at Duke University, I returned to King to teach history and coach soccer. During that period, I realized I was an entrepreneur at heart and needed to be building things in order to be satisfied. I began building New Again Houses in 2008 and left King to build the business full-time in 2010.
Q.3 What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans. When you are born with the entrepreneurial gene, you have to build things. With persistence, entrepreneurs eventually find a solution to an unmet need. I found that house flipping was largely a cottage industry of mom and pops that needed a more systematic and scalable solution. I started building systems that addressed this need and New Again Houses became a national franchise ten years later.
Q.4 What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ans. I taught history of philosophy in courses at King University. One common theme that dates back to the ancient philosophers is the importance of knowing thyself. If you are an entrepreneur, you must eventually embrace it because you’ll never be satisfied working a job. When you do choose to embrace it, know what you are good at and focus on matching your strengths to unmet demand in the market. None of us is good at everything, so surround yourself with talented people who complement your weaknesses. Know your personality. Know your strengths and be honest about your weaknesses.
Q.5 What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans. Entrepreneurs with varying skill sets have been successful. I would say math has been an important skill for me, but a disproportionate number of successful entrepreneurs have dyslexia and, therefore, struggle with numbers. So, I think successful entrepreneurs are aware of their own skills and construct innovative solutions with the self-awareness of who they are and who they are not.
Q.6 How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans. For me, success has been about achieving a balance in life where my work didn’t consume all of who I am. I often schedule tennis and other activities at 5:30 so I’m forced to draw boundaries around the work day.
Q.7 To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans. I had numerous advantages. I had a nurturing family growing up and my wife has been extraordinarily supportive. I have also enjoyed the privileges that come with being white in our culture. Beyond those, I attribute persistence to my success. I’ve pushed through the many setbacks and disappointments, approaching each as a problem to be solved.
Q.8 How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans. I never intended on being a marketer, but it’s really hard to build a business without understanding marketing. In the modern age, digital marketing strategy is often the tail that wags the dog in business. We’ve used digital marketing and social media to build our brand from scratch. I chose to invest time and money I didn’t have in the early stages, but it was the right decision.
Q.9 Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans. Much of the business growth was bootstrapped. We intentionally limited our standard of living so we could reinvest in the business. My wife, Hollie, has always helped in that regard. We did establish long term relationships with lenders who have been critical to success. I don’t think the value of long term win-win business relationships can be overestimated. I’ve been loyal to people who have believed in me and it’s been satisfying to see them succeed along with us.
Q.10 What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans. So much of business seems to be built upon transactional relationships and I think that is short-sighted. Long term success requires a village. In business, a village is a network, or ecosystem, of mutually beneficial business relationships. If you squeeze partners during the good times, there will be no one there for you in the tough times. It’s also about the very nature of success. I’ve never been satisfied with just my own success. My ideal of success is achieving it and enjoying it with loyal partners and friends.
Q.11 Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans. One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that I need to be building something. I’ll be building something in 5-10 years because that’s who I am. Hopefully, I will be building at a higher, more challenging level than I am now. The same goes for the business. We’ve developed a talented team of people and I hope the business continues to grow with us.
Q.12 Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans. With the risk of sounding cliche, I’m a fan of Elon Musk. His companies epitomize innovation and persistence.
Q.13 How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans. I’ve never seen myself as an employer. I’m a terrible manager, but I have an eye for talent and am a very loyal partner. Knowing myself, I don’t think I could build an organization of employees. Our business is a lean franchise organization. Those of us at the corporate level are a team. I know that doesn’t work for large organizations, but I don’t aspire to build a large organization because that’s not who I am. We’re building a large business with franchise owners, not employees. My role is to build a supportive environment for our corporate team that in turn provides an ecosystem for our franchise owners.
Q.14 How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans. It depends on the idea. Most ideas I get lying awake in the middle of the night. I wake up the next morning and the idea wasn’t as good as I thought at 2am so I kill it before breakfast. Other ideas are killed over lunch by our team. A few ideas survive the crucible of honesty in our office long enough to build a prototype. The rare prototype holds up in the real world and takes a life of its own. With those ideas, I’m relentless. I can stick with and develop an idea for a decade and longer if it’s something I believe in. At the same time, all ideas and organizations have a life cycle. It’s important to know when an idea’s time has passed, allow it to die an honorable death, and innovate. It’s the circle of life.
Q.15 What motivates you?
Ans. I’m process driven, not goal driven. I’ve always believed if you do things well and surround yourself with talented people, magic will happen. Sometimes it takes longer than I planned, but I do think success is a product of sound process, not the other way around.
Q.16 What are your ideals?
Ans. I have an enduring belief in the ability of individuals to reach the expectations set for them. It’s naive and I’m regularly disappointed. I’ve adjusted that ideal to include only people who deserve that faith. Much of my strategy involves empowering individuals within our ecosystem to spread their wings.
Q.17 How do you generate new ideas?
Ans. I have an uncanny ability to compartmentalize, so I’m able create space to generate ideas. My office is full of white boards and I block out time to create ideas on them. When I’m in a zone, the office could catch on fire and I still won’t be distracted. Technology makes innovation more possible now than ever before, but it also makes it really difficult to focus on ideas and develop them. Ideas must be followed with persistence. Life keeps us too busy, so I have to be intentional about creating distraction-free space for ideas and innovation. When it gets too busy, I go to the beach, sit under an umbrella with a cooler, and stare into the ocean for days at a time.
Q.18 How do you define success?
Ans. I think that’s one of the most important questions. I ask it of anyone I work with. For myself, I’ve found the answer evolves. For me, success looks very different than it did a few years ago. Currently, success is being part of a high performing team that is able to solve difficult problems.
Q.19 How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans. I think ideas are powerful and important. We all yearn to be a part of ideas that are bigger than ourselves. Successful politicians figure that out. Successful businesses build big ideas and allow customers to be a part of it. I think that’s essentially what a successful brand is. It’s an idea that customers choose to be a part of.
Q.20 What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans. In my previous life as an employee, I wasn’t able to choose the corporate team I worked with. Our ambition levels weren’t the same and it created frustration. Without a doubt, my favorite part of being an entrepreneur is that I can choose the team and partners I work with.
Q.21 What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans. It’s a curse, but I’m never satisfied. That said, the closest I’ve come to satisfaction is seeing franchise owners invest in the idea of New Again Houses and watch them achieve life-changing success is immensely rewarding.
Q.22 What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans. I think entrepreneurs are change agents. They are never satisfied with what is and willing to take risks to create something that’s never been done before. They fear stability and embrace change. Unfortunately, most organizations don’t provide a place for entrepreneurs. That’s unfortunate because entrepreneurs can prosper working within the right organization. The SpaceX engineers are no doubt every bit as entrepreneurial as me. New Again Houses can’t make rockets, but we do want to create an ecosystem where entrepreneurs can prosper.
Q.23 What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Ans. I would love to be an artist but I’m not artistically talented. I would love to be an engineer but I’m not good enough at abstract math. My superpower is surrounding myself with talented people and staying out of their way. In this way, I’m able to build things I’m not talented enough to do on my own. I’m not a good manager, so our culture has to consist of self-starters who are problem solvers. We don’t micromanage one another and we don’t punch time clocks. Instead, we give individuals the freedom to collaborate, permission to fail, and the autonomy to solve problems. It’s not the place for everyone, but it’s consistent with who I am.
Q.24 In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Q.25 If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans. If I had my 20’s to do over again, I would have sought out high performing, innovative organizations and worked for free just to learn from them.
Q.26 How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans. The entrepreneurial life has given our family a lot of control over our time. I can take a week off for a road trip with my kids or take a last-minute vacation with Hollie. I’ve really tried to maintain boundaries around my work so this entrepreneurial career can have a positive effect on my family life.
Q.27 What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Ans. At one point, my greatest fear was not being able to provide for my family and the people who had committed years to New Again Houses. Now, my fear is some day becoming physically unable to be a part of the exciting future we’ve built together. I keep running as fast as I can and trust in the power of momentum.
Q.28 How did you decide on the location for your business?
Ans. We built the business in Bristol TN, which is a few thousand miles outside Silicone Valley. Bristol is our home. The affordability of Bristol has allowed us to build a talented team and headquarters without venture capital money.
Q.29 Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Ans. Successful entrepreneurs ask good questions, generate new answers, and persevere to implement them.
Q.30 If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Ans. I’m fascinated by the breadth of the genius of Leonardo da Vinci. I would like to know what, after all he created, what he would have done differently with his time.
Q.31 Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Ans. My parents took entrepreneurial risks when they had no financial margin of error. They grinded their way forward with hard work while making plenty of time for me.
Q.32 What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
Ans. Long Walk to Freedom was a life-changing book. Nelson Mandela’s ambitious vision of success was inspiring. More inspiring was the persistence he showed through decades in a South African cell.
Q.33 What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Ans. I spent my 20’s reinventing the wheel when I should have been learning from others who had already built great wheels.
Q.34 How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Ans. I don’t think we should avoid making mistakes. The only way to do that is to do nothing. Surrounding ourselves with people who aren’t afraid to speak truth will help identify the mistakes early on. Being open to criticism and acknowledging our own failure is probably the bes damage control.
Q.35 What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Ans. I play a lot of tennis and am an avid Arsenal Football Club supporter.
Q.36 What makes you happy?
Ans. Hitting a clean backhand winner is my happy place at the moment.
Q.37 What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans. When I read the stories of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr, it’s hard to describe anything I’ve given up as a sacrifice.
Q.38 If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
Ans. If you could give your children one character trait, what would it be?
Company : New Again Houses
Address : 501 Alabama St
City : Bristol
State : Tennessee
Zip Code: 37620
Country : USA
Phone : 423-389-9110