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Eric Brown

push back your fears and find the courage to do what you want to do
Eric Brown - The Second Act Entrepreneur
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Good Morning Friends, It is a beauty of a day as Summer starts to unfold. I launched my book, The Second Act Entrepreneur Tuesday March 22, 2022, three days before my 62nd birthday. When I wrote the draft of the book, the first title was Apartments to Hot Sauce, as that is what most of the book is about, my marketing musings over a 40 year career as an Entrepreneur. We designed a new cover and changed the title to Second Act Entrepreneur. At the time we published the book on Amazon, I had no idea what lie ahead, actually, we never do, however our illusions can be quite convincing,…….You can get a Copy of the Book Here

Below are a few things the book covers, that you may find benefit from if you are on the fence of stay in corporate america or dart. 2021 was the year of the Great Resignation, and I suspect that will beeld into 2022. If a transition is on your mind, a Side Hustle is a great start. 

The gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen, so they say. The middle class has evaporated; or is it just wrapped differently? I feel for folks who are out of work, as some jobs may never return; however, for every job that has vanished, ten more opportunities have popped up.

This book is for the folks in the middle, maybe between one career and the next, who possess a great idea and business experience, but are wondering how to get traction for their idea. Although many of the examples are about how we marketed our boutique apartment business, Urbane Apartments, in Detroit MI, and subsequently our hot sauce business in Hamtramck, MI, and then scaled those ideas to market and brand a 10,000-unit portfolio than spans across Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma, it is really about my path; doing one thing for twenty-five years, then changing direction and doing something else. Reinvent is an overused term, but sometimes it applies–and sometimes doing it sooner than later is beneficial. There is no better time than now. 

This book is also about overcoming fear, and mustering up the courage to do something different. I also cover scaling your idea, which was perhaps the hardest piece of all. But mostly, it is just my story, and I hope you find a nugget or two that helps you along and allows you to get out of your own way and enjoy the journey.

The Gap Widens

Back to the middle class; has it really evaporated or have we just lost our way? Growing up on a farm in mid-state Ohio, life was a bit different in comparison to now. Actually, it was very different. My father was a homebuilder and a part-time farmer. I could gauge what type of year my dad was having with his business based on the car we were driving. In a good year, he was sporting a new Cadillac and a new Ford pick-up truck, but in those inevitable down years, we drove an Impala and had no new trucks. For sure, we had less stuff then, opposed to now. We had one TV,one car, and one phone. We rarely dined out. There was no cable TV, we had an antenna and a rotor.

Today there is a TV in every bedroom, plus a cell phone for every family member, plus a laptop for every family member, plus an iPad for every family member. We have cable TV with movie channels, and internet service in multiple places; on our phones, in the house, on our iPads, and on our WIFI. Yep, the world is a bit more full, and somewhat more complicated; or is it?

Branding and marketing on a budget is as important as ever. You need to be able to sell; yourself and your product or idea. Selling is easier with a sprinkle of solid branding and marketing. 

Many small business proprietors who ramble on and on about customer service and quality in order to justify their pricing are missing a very important point; it’s not about the money. Impeccable customer service and quality are the starting point, certainly a must-do. To sustain charging a greater price than your competitor, your brand must establish and behave in a manner that is remarkable.

Remarkable, as defined by the legend Seth Godin:

  • “Remarkable doesn’t mean remarkable to you. It means remarkable to me. Am I going to make a remark about it?
  • ‘Being noticed is not the same as being remarkable. Running down the street naked will get you noticed, but it won’t accomplish much. It’s easy to pull off a stunt, but not useful.”

Is the experience you are creating for your customer remarkable, and does your customer find value in the experience created? Are you matching your brand to a targeted experience?

Service excellence, just as with beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Take some time to evaluate what will engage and delight your customer, based on your brand. Stop in at the local Mini Cooper dealership and you’ll notice they openly invite customers to bring their beloved pets into the dealership, which some folks get really excited about. It works for Mini Cooper, but you likely would not find that at the Jaguar showroom. Mini Cooper is matching a customer experience to their brand. This example has no correlation to luxury and doesn’t get better by adding more money. Southwest Airlines, you either love them or hate them, with their cattle-call lines, no assigned seats, and no frills. Yet true Southwest customers like, enjoy, laugh with, and have a favorable experience with Southwest. Herb Kelleher, Southwest co-founder, somehow figured out how to deliver a consistent, value-driven experience and he permitted his employees to fix it when it wasn’t.

With our boutique apartment management company, Urbane Apartments in Royal Oak, MI, we have used some innovative ideas to create remarkable experiences for our residents that align with our brand. Our angle is, and has always been, “We aren’t for everyone”. We have never tried to be all things to all people. Generalists work on narrow, “lowest price gets the prize” margins. Boutique brands enjoy much wider margins and have a healthy air of snarky persona.

Sometimes it takes one of life’s jolts to push us in this or that direction. That is how I figured out how to market and brand our businesses; because I had to. Although I had no formal training, schooling, or marketing degrees, I have been forever fascinated with why consumers buy this versus that, and the varying price points between somewhat, or mostly, similar products.

I am not always the easiest cat in town to deal with. I’ve been fired as a client more than once. I’m not very proud of that, but it is what it is. When it happened with the marketing studio that was doing our marketing and PR work, I was taken aback. The timing was really bad, or at least it seemed so. We were getting ready to launch a marketing campaign for the biggest deal I had ever attempted to develop. I had a lot of risk and exposure with the development. I have, irrespective of the climate pressures, never, ever been afraid to question things. This is the point here, and neither should you, even at the risk of being fired. 

As it turned out, that was a pinnacle point in our business, and my growth as an entrepreneur. We started to figure out content marketing way before it was popular, as we developed our digital footprint. When we started to self-generate leasing leads to rent apartments with no traditional advertising, people started to notice. 

Eric is an Entrepreneur, a Real Estate Developer and an Apartment Operator. He is also a Writer/Published Author of SecondAct Entrepreneur, From Detroit, he has returned to Indian Lake where he grew up. Eric has a deep love and passion for HotSauces, and CutFlowers. His UrbaneFarm, is a purveyor of special one of a kind HotSauces, Salsa’s, BBQ Sauce, Rubs, Gourmet Salts, Spices, Chips and Jerky, available at TheDepot. CutFlowers are available in season. You can meet Eric most Friday and Saturdays slinging Chicago Dogs at BackAlley Eatzz, a GrillTrailer located at TheDepot in Downtown Lakeview, OH. Stop in and say Hello!