The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.
I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.
Can you please tell everyone your name?
What is your job role?
Founder and CEO, RuListing Inc.
Tell us about your company?
RuListing.com connects homeowners, buyers, and renters together privately. As a free real estate site, buyers and renters post where and what they’re looking for; property owners find buyers and renters, view profiles and send private messages. With over 14,000 subscribers across the U.S., Australia, and Canada, homeowners are connecting with buyers and renters privately without listing on the public market.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the problem-solving aspect of my job – it’s in my nature, and it brings me joy. I love waking up every morning to new situations, rapid change and the choice of optimizing my own time that best moves the business forward. I enjoy puzzling through problems within any area from use cases, development, marketing strategies to finance and investment. I don’t mean to imply that every day brings solutions and success. Goodness, no. Rather, the challenge of daily problem-solving is what I love the most about my job.
What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
My determination to get RuListing into people’s hands, watching usage grow and receiving thank you messages from users. For years, people have complained about commission fees. Yet, history has shown disruption doesn’t come from industries that profit from the very fees consumers are complaining about. In the end, consumer needs always prevail, and RuListing offers the solution.
On a personal level, what motivates me the most, is hearing that something can’t be done. I recall my Gr. 10 gymnastics coach preaching to me one day that, “there’s no such thing as I can’t. What you’re really saying is, I won’t.” This lesson stuck with me, as it’s not that we can’t solve whatever challenge is before us, but wanting to solve it, is our choice and our creativity to figure it out, is a factor of how badly we want it. This is what motivates me to get up every day.
How do your co-workers inspire you?
I am most inspired by genuineness. This is my ‘x’ factor that establishes trust. When genuineness coincides with an out-of-box engineer-type thinker, I am doubly inspired. Genuineness opens up honest dialogue, creativity, and increases productivity.
But genuineness gives a human connection, where you feel comfortable sharing some of your personal sides. It means you might receive a funny joke, a dog video or a personal message of advice in your inbox that you can relate to, reminding you that daily life is all good.
How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
It’s a tricky question, as I come from a traditional corporate background where team building was about productivity, and ‘fun’ at work was about camaraderie. But with digital teams such as RuListing, productivity isn’t as dependent on relationships. Software developers, for example, can, and some prefer to code in the wee hours of the morning. What’s interesting is, personalities in technology tend to skew more introverted, and those fun team building events are something they tend to put up with, rationalized as logical.
Having fun isn’t so much about team building for RuListing; instead it’s about creating job satisfaction. I try to be flexible and accessible so that people can build their work schedule to meet deliverables. This helps as people can budget their downtime for personal and family fun. It’s worked well so far, but as we grow this approach may need to change.
What are some of the challenges of your job?
At the moment, my greatest challenge with my job is limited resources. My own time is a finite resource because Founders have to wear many hats to drive a business forward. I recognize, with success in-market and a clear digital strategy to scale, RuListing is at that tipping point when Founders have to pull back from the day-to-day work and focus on investment. It’s a challenge to re-focus, as funding is a full-time job against the daily excitement of business development. I am optimistic so that I can get back to business.
Also, a marketplace challenge that other start-ups and I face is building a digital footprint. Today, it’s much faster and cheaper to build, but go-to-market is costly, time-consuming and much more competitive. Gone are the days of build it and the people will come, such as Facebook. You may have a great product, that people seem willing and ready to buy. But today, whether from paid or organic, landing on page one search is expensive as big competitors invest heavily in SEO resources and digital marketing campaigns. Social media has merit, but the competition recognizes that too. The challenge is the time and investment in trial and error to define the digital strategies and channels that drive conversions.
What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
I would say a critical lesson that I learned years ago, is not to ink and finalize partner or co-founder relationships or any equity splits too early in your business. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new venture and in each other’s passion and energy to get it out there in the marketplace. This honeymoon period is very short, as the marriage kicks into full gear with hard work and start-up setbacks. It’s important to spend time on your start-up to learn who you are, and what character traits and skills you bring to your business, to recognize a complementary partner. I have jumped too quickly, only to discover that my partner was not ready to prioritize the business full-time, or that they were not who they said they were. In the early stages, the only asset you own is the idea – don’t be too quick to divide up its ownership.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
Take action. Dig deep. Trust your instincts. The only difference between a good idea and a great one…is action. Be prepared to go where you are told, by your industry, peers and even your family. You can’t go.
Dig deep into all functions that touch your business – most importantly embrace technology. I’m not suggesting you should code and build your website. Instead, ask questions, figure out how it works from short online videos and lectures so that you can participate in the problem-solving process and recognize professionals who will underdeliver. Dig into SEO, understand keywords and why they’re important, learn how to set up your digital campaign, build your own social media accounts and posts. I don’t mean to overwhelm, but I have learned those leading people and making good decisions are drawn from a basic understanding of their work.
Also, listen to criticism and feedback, but trust your own instincts to make your final decision. Remember advice is relative to a person’s perspective. For example, criticism and feedback of RuListing’s digital marketing strategy coming from a real estate agent may be very different from a proven digital marketer and advertising professional. Unfortunately, young Founders can get caught up in following everyone’s advice in fear of being called out as a person who doesn’t listen. But as a consequence of constant iteration, start-ups lose focus. You know your business the best. Let your instincts tell you which advice to follow and which advise to park for another day.
Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web: