Entrepreneur Interview: Rachael Kansas

The Levy-Rosenblum Institute of Entrepreneurship is posting a second interview, this time of MBA’11s Rachael Kansas.

1. What do you think all entrepreneurs should know before starting their endeavors? Being an entrepreneur is not glamorous – it’s tough and challenging. But it is also fulfilling and fun if you have the dedication and drive to be successful.

2. How did you get started? 

My family business is in real estate, so I always had some exposure to the industry. While attending the Tulane MBA program I took the real estate development courses and thought I would like to go in that direction. But then I spoke with a family friend who worked at RE/MAX specifically and also happened to have an MBA. Hearing about his experience, his success, and his lifestyle encouraged me to try being a residential agent myself. At his recommendation I spoke with his RE/MAX broker and thought it was a great fit. I took the licensing course and exam during the summer between my two years in the MBA program. So my first year as an agent overlapped with my second year at Tulane. Upon graduation from Tulane, I had been with RE/MAX for a year and had built up enough initial business to continue as a full- time agent.

3. How did you initially finance your business? 

For the first year of my real estate career I was technically still a full-time student at Tulane. So while I worked many hours trying to grow my business I considered the little pay I received as if it was a part-time, side job. The start up costs for this business were small compared to other entrepreneurial ventures. I made a conscious effort to spend little money on anything other than licensing fees, required membership dues, and the bare basics. And meanwhile, I took advantage of many free online tools for marketing purposes.

4. What does your typical day look like? 

Any given day can be different! That is part of what I love about this business. There are days where I can do all of my work from home on my computer and other days where I am running around town juggling showings, inspections, appraisals, and closings. There are plenty of nights and weekends where I have to work a few hours, but there are also times during the work week where I can take care of personal errands too. It all evens out. One thing is certain, my schedule can change to accommodate a client at any given time, so I have to remain flexible – and glued to my smartphone.

5. What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting their own business? 

1) Learn the industry – do as much research and talk to as many experienced professionals as possible. Ask tons of questions and take advantage of educational opportunities.

2) Keep your expenses low and be prepared for little to no income for a good amount of time.

3) Don’t be shy! Talk to your friends and family – and anyone you meet – about your new venture. You
never know what connections they may have to resources, clients, etc.

6. What is the worst advice that you have ever received? 

I can’t think of a time when anyone gave me bad advice specifically, but there were a number of people who made somewhat judgmental comments about my decision to go into residential real estate at all. Admittedly, it is definitely not the traditional route for a new MBA. To take the real estate licensing course, you actually do not even need a college degree. But if I had worried about other people’s opinions, I would not be where I am today.

7. What outside influencers have been the most important to your business success? 

The relationships I have built within the industry have been invaluable. From inspectors, to appraisers, to lenders, to closing attorneys, everyone works together to ultimately reach a common goal of having the deal close. With regard to building my business, I have met clients through 504ward events, a local kickball league, a nonprofit board I serve on, and many other areas. So staying active in the community and getting involved have proven to be important as well.