Terry Parks is the CEO of Eviction Helpers, a company he started from scratch just two years ago after he finished college and had a brief foray in the NFL―The Dallas Cowboys, if you’re wondering. Here he talks with BusinessOpportunity.com’s Entrepreneur Exchange about his journey from an anticipated career on the field to a successful career in one he could not have anticipated:
“After being let go before the first preseason game, I decided I wasn't going to work for anyone else ever again. Come to think of it, I never wanted to work for anyone else for as long as I can remember. I was determined to find something that would thrive in the down economy we’re all now facing. And I found it. EvictionHelpers.com is a website licensing and business opportunity that capitalizes on today’s failing real estate market and the increasing number of foreclosures. It was an easy transition and took off from day one!”
As a profitable entrepreneur now offering a full-fledged business opportunity to others who he believes have what it takes to replicate his incredible success, Terry goes on to share the following insights, advice and anecdotes with Entrepreneur Exchange readers…
How does someone know if they have what it takes to own their own business? Tell us a bit about how you made the decision and why.
If you are looking for a salary, an insurance plan or a guarantee of any kind, then I’d say you're not ready. That doesn't mean you don't have what it takes. It just means you have been molded by the system and need to shift the way you think. Sometimes it just takes reaching the breaking point in working for your existing company or boss. Sometimes it’s an idea that pops into your head and inspires you to act. Sometimes it’s reading about a business opportunity on a website or in a magazine and saying, "Hey, I can do that!"
As for me, I was buying pens by the box and selling them individually to my classmates in 6th grade. I wouldn’t say I was necessarily an entrepreneur, but more of an opportunist. I only ever worked for one company for more than a year or two. I never took direction very well.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your first six months in business? How did you meet that challenge?
Learning that we had to pay for everything from paperclips to direct mail postcards was a real eye opener. We put more into the business than our own household budget at first. We had a “do or die” mentality.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing business owners today and why? Any suggestions for how to address those challenges?
I would say finding the right opportunity to match your mentality and comfort zone is a big challenge. Even more important is market timing. I've tried lots of things. When I look back on them, they were all good ideas but the timing was not necessarily right or we were underfunded.
What is the single strongest piece of advice you would have for someone just starting out in business for themselves?
Jump all the way in! Anybody who tells you that you can start one business while working for someone else has never done it themselves. You can only serve one master. In other words, put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket closely.
What would you say is the one thing that new business owners forget about or overlook when they’re just planning/starting out?
I would say it would be contingency planning. What is "Plan B" if your marketing doesn't work? What happens if you can't sell? You've got to have the flexibility to deal with changes in the marketplace, or you die.
What marketing strategies have you found to be most successful in growing your business?
Without a doubt, direct mail and more direct mail!
What is it about the business/industry you are in that made it so attractive to you?
We have been able to capitalize on the failing housing market. We identified a market niche that no one was even considering and have profited handsomely.
After the initial start-up phase in business, what obstacles do business owners face as they try to grow their business and remain successful? Any advice for how to overcome those obstacles?
I would say that if you plan on remaining small (i.e., a mom and pop), growth is usually just a natural result of your marketing. But if you want to grow to a larger scale, people will be one of your biggest obstacles. It is difficult to find people that have the same devotion to you and your growth that you do. Not surprising, I guess, because if they thought like you then they would be running a business instead of working for you, right? The biggest hurdle is the expectation level that you have for those working for you. Be prepared for a lot of letdowns.
What on-line, software or other resources have helped you the most in managing all aspects of your company? Why and how have they been helpful?
We use Macs exclusively for our marketing campaigns and direct mail. A good contact management system is a must. We also use iworks, iweb and iphoto. Goldfish seems to have an excellent program for Mac users to design quality websites without the programming knowledge. From a web promotion standpoint, consider a good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company for Google placement. We use http://www.mktstmedia.com out of Nashville. When you don't know what you're doing on the web, it's best to ask a professional
What did you do before you decided to become your own boss, and how have those skills helped you in your current business?
The only job I really kept for any period of time was working in the car business. I did it out of necessity, between entrepreneurial endeavors. It was a real lesson in, "I don't want to work for you "no mo’!”
What process do you follow to successfully close on a lead and make the final sale? Any tips?
We meet with every customer personally. When we're on the phone we only try to close for an appointment. We don't try to sell our service, only the appointment.
If you work from home, what are the greatest benefits to doing so? What are the drawbacks, and how do you manage them?
Working at home has its advantages (mostly cost savings). I like going to an office. With today's executive suites, it’s easy to start a business on a shoestring. We use Regus in Las Vegas and Meridian in our Dallas offices.
If you own more than one business, how have you integrated your businesses to juggle it all successfully? Any suggestions?
We run multiple businesses: EvictionHelpers.com, The Loan Modification Center and Mediation Centers of America, LLC. All dovetail nicely, so we're not moving in different directions,
If you bought into an already existing business opportunity, distributorship, licensee opportunity or small franchise, how and why did you make that choice?
We started from scratch in the broom closet of our personal attorney's office. We now run multiple offices and are expanding nationwide through a licensing program.
What is/are your favorite motto and/or quote when it comes to business? Any final words of encouragement and/or inspiration for the budding entrepreneur?
I saw a segment on Ted Turner the other day and even though I'm not one of his fans I felt he made a profound statement: "Being successful isn't rocket science. You just have to read the newspapers and then connect the dots." In reality, timing is everything. Look for a business that can thrive in a down economy. That way when things improve you'll be ahead of the curve. If you can't make it in this economy, you won't be around to take advantage of the good times when they return.
More about Eviction Helpers:
Eviction Helpers is a homeowner assistance program that addresses the needs of homeowners facing foreclosure and ultimately eviction. They step in at almost any stage of the process and assist homeowners with foreclosure and eviction assistance to help them stay in their homes longer. In some cases, they are successful in actually rescinding foreclosure sales, even in states that have non-redemption laws. The company is currently seeking licensees to assist in its nationwide expansion efforts. If becoming an Eviction Helpers licensee is something you would be interested in, just click on any mention of the company name in this article to receive more information.