Brenton-Hayden-renters-warehouse-interviewAt just age 26, Brenton Hayden is Chief Executive Officer of Renters Warehouse, a property management company based in Minnesota that was ranked 132 on the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing small businesses. Having started just four years ago, his 2010 revenue was $3.3 million, a 2,085% increase from 2007 revenue. In 2011, for the second consecutive year, Renters Warehouse was named as one of the best places to work in the small business category by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
Hayden started his career working in sales for Kellogg's. When Kellogg's was acquired and he was downsized, he entered the real estate industry. After working as an agent, he saw an opportunity in the property management field: working for small investors and owners of single properties, something larger property management companies weren't interested in.
When the real estate market collapsed, he transitioned from the role of agent to property manager, helping people who became unintentional landlords. With Renters Warehouse's help, owners who were being foreclosed on but couldn't sell their homes were able to find renter tenants. Thus, Hayden took advantage of the economic downturn to create a profitable business opportunity.
What to Consider Before Starting Your Own Business
We asked Hayden what prospective entrepreneurs should consider before starting their own business. "The death of your bank account," Hayden said. "Just having a good idea and no competitors in the state is not enough."
According to the CEO, the necessary steps to starting one's own business are to ask "who [is] your customer, how big is your audience, what is your value proposition, [and] what is your market strategy." He explained that a complicated business plan full of analytic data is less important than answering those four questions.
However, a supply of capital does not guarantee a business' success, nor does a lack of financing doom it to failure. In contrast to his successful businesses started with hard work and sweat equity, Hayden said, "Every business I've started with money has failed."
Hiring and Logistics: Challenges of a Fast-Growing Business
With a business' growth come growing pains; Hayden shared the challenges of high business growth rate. He highlighted hiring and logistics as two particular areas to pay attention to.
Hayden emphasized the importance of strong hiring. Hiring is a time-intensive process, he said, but picking the right people is critical because "employee turnover at this stage can be very hard on your business." One of the key skills Hayden has picked up as a business owner is where and how to find quality potential employees.
Another critical component of a growing business is the need to having to plan ahead, logistically. Hayden asks himself, "Is there anything that I'm going to need that will take a long time to develop?" By constantly looking ahead, he can anticipate his own business needs and be prepared to serve a growing customer base.
Tomorrow, Hayden discusses franchising his business and marketing tips in the second part of his interview.