In a recent interview, Gayle had the opportunity to sit down with Devon Harris, a successful real estate entrepreneur who has made a significant impact in the industry. Devon shared his journey from an IT professional to a thriving business owner, providing valuable insights into his experiences, challenges, and successes in his business and digital marketing.
What do you think your biggest strength is? What’s awesome about you?
I believe my biggest strength is I’m good at speaking. I’m getting negotiations. when I put something to mind.
I had no earthly clue about real estate three or four years ago, but I know that I’m a go-getter. If I have a goal in mind, I’m going to accomplish that goal and set some more. So, throughout the last couple of years, I’ve really been able to utilize certain skill sets that I did learn in college.
Having to sort of negotiate and deal with multiple sellers or real estate agents, I’ve really turned it into a passion for negotiating and turning transactions into real-life deals. Not every transaction and real estate is a deal, though. I think that’s an art — negotiating into a good price. I think that’s a wonderful skill that I was able to pick up over the last few years.
The other side of that coin – What is it that you suck at? What are the things where you’re like this is just not me?
I think entrepreneurship is a tough endeavor in itself. I think it’s really difficult to sort of keep your head on your shoulders.
I’m most comfortable with that definite income and having a salary back in my whole nine to five — that was pretty cool, but now that I’m an entrepreneur there are times when I struggle with determination.
That’s one of those things oftentimes I struggle to get out of bed. I really have to stay on top of my game as far as ensuring that I do what I have to do to support myself and my family and others because I have a lot of people to depend on me in my business.
So just a matter of me — keeping my head on my shoulders. I think that’s one of the things I struggle with.
What are one or two pieces of the best advice you can remember someone giving you in the past that has kind of stuck with you? What’s some really good advice you’ve received?
I think the best advice I’ve received was from a mentor a few years ago. Basically banking on yourself, take the risk. If there’s no risk, there’s no reward.
I read a lot of books, specifically Robert Kiyosaki, and from what I’ve learned is we can’t become rich or wealthy by simply working. We need some type of passive or investment income in order to support the lifestyle that we want. A lot of us are stuck in the Matrix. And so I’ve learned that our school systems, for one, that sort of keeps us trapped in that employee mindset.
So, the biggest recommendation that I’ve received from my colleagues is make that investment on yourself. That’s gonna be the biggest investment that you’re ever tackle. So, we do that with school. We can also do it for other things that we don’t learn in school. If I could recommend anything to anybody — make that investment on yourself, take the risk and you’d be surprised with achievement.
What are some of the unexpected challenges that you encountered as an entrepreneur? For instance, being an entrepreneur, I feel like we sometimes have uninformed optimism where we think everything is just going to be great.
Especially in real estate, you have to expect the unexpected. t=Things will happen. So, one thing that I get comfortable with now is basically accepting failure, you have to fail. Again in school, they teach you that failure is bad. But, it’s actually a very good thing to fail. You have to get comfortable with the fact that you’re going to fail and you’re going to succeed based off those failures. You have to learn what not to do in a specific situation. So, I expect not to get properties in a contract. I expect everything to go wrong with my innovations and I succeed based off of those small failures. I’m not expecting to succeed all the time.
What sets you and your business apart from others? Why would someone choose to work with you over someone else?
There’s a lot of mentors especially on social media today that are charging an arm and a leg to give information that we all need to know. I not only offer that information, but I also hold people’s hands throughout the process. I don’t know about you, but that’s the best way I learned — when someone literally showed me how to do it step by step.
So, what differentiates me is that I charge a doable fee to not only learn information but I’m going to ensure that you actually flip the house. To make a profit. Because, again, there’s a lot of people out here just charging money for information. I’m going to give you that information and basically take you through that flip process step-by-step.
What’s something you wish you knew years ago?
I wish I knew how to leverage other people’s money. I bought my first investment back in 2012 or 2013. Had I known the information that I knew today, I would have grown that money a little bit more. I would have stretched a bit further. I’m proud of that investment. I have a rental income. But, I wish I knew how to leverage credit and other people’s money, hard money, private lending, all that good stuff. I would be a lot further in the game.
What are the next three to five years looking like for you and your industry? What do you see is some opportunities? What are you optimistic about?
I’m optimistic about the real estate market. I know a lot of people are talking about the interest rates and all that good stuff. But, I mean historically speaking, if you look at interest rates over the last 30 years, we’re in the fairly good range there, still fairly cheap.
So, my personal goals are to begin BRRRR (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat) method, which is a basically more rental income, that’s my end game. I flip maybe 40 houses over the last two or three years, I’m still a novice, my business is still sort of fairly new, but one of my biggest goals within the next two to three years is to purchase five or six rental properties and start fully building my rental catalog.
When I say marketing, what’s the first word that comes to mind for you?
Clients we need more clients. So that’s the biggest reason to market. You need to market your brand.
What are your expectations when you spend money, say $1,000, on marketing?
My ideal goal is to put my brand in front of as many people as possible. That’s the only way to sort of get more clientele outside of word of mouth.
What are some of your biggest successes with marketing?
In the last year I’ve started outsourcing. At this point, I think our biggest success is just gaining clientele. 90% of my business comes from the small marketing that I do. I don’t do much, I do it through Facebook and Instagram. That goes to show, whatever marketing you can do — it’s going to be beneficial for your business regardless of how small or big it is.
What pain point would there be in your business when it comes to marketing?
It’s the time and effort you have to put into it. I think that’s one of the benefits of outsourcing. With entrepreneurship, this is one of the things that I slowly learned. We wear 1,000 hats. There comes a point where you have to outsource and allow someone else to do it. That’s the only way to grow and scale your business. So, one of my pain points is just having to allow someone else to do that and putting someone on payroll to do that. I think that’s another investment that goes back to one of my initial statements — you have to invest in yourself for your business to scale.
In the next, 12 months, what’s your client acquisition plan? What is it that you’re going to be doing to grow your business moving forward?
I’ll probably spend a little bit more on marketing, I think that’s one of the biggest pain points. With the market shifting, I have to do a bit more towards curating those persons who want to dive in and learn a lot more with the real estate industry.
So, for me within the next 12 months, I thought of my own personal investments. I do want to continue forward with my business where I help people flip houses. I have to put a little bit more into marketing. Maybe take a few courses and see how I could go about pulling in more clientele.
We are going to finish this out with some fun stuff! What is either your favorite or the most recent book you’ve read?
I’m actually reading “The Laws of Success” by Andrew Carnegie and written by Napoleon Hill
Do you remember what the first concert you went to was?
The first concert I went to, this is sort of embarrassing, but this was back in, heck I think maybe 2001. There’s this group called B2K. I went to their concert with some friends way back in the day. That was the first one I ever went to.
What about your free time? Do you have much free time?
Absolutely, that’s one of the biggest reasons why I love entrepreneurship today. I struggle thinking about going back to the job, simply put, because I have so much freedom. That was one of the reasons why I curated a business because, I mean honestly, I can make my own investments and just live off that. But, I have so much free time. I travel. I like to take a trip maybe once or twice a month, doesn’t really matter. I like to get outside of my city and learn new things.
We feel like we relate to Devon in alot of ways. Atomic is a small business built on entrepreneurship. Gayle took a risk to start the company and invested in himself and his business.
As a digital marketing agency in Birmingham, AL, we continue to take risks, push the boundaries, and invest in ourselves. We value the same freedom of travel that Devon mentioned, and we still make sure that the job gets done.
It is important to remember, as Devon said, “whatever marketing you can do — it’s going to be beneficial for your business regardless of how small or big it is.” No project or client is too small to outsource and benefit from marketing. Invest in yourself.