This summer marks the 20th anniversary of my Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) business. 20 years! It’s hard to believe.
So much has changed since 1996. Back then, I worked from an old farm table in my basement with my two daughters at my feet. I purchased my first computer with a $5000 loan from my husband’s retirement savings plan and I didn’t have a website because the internet didn’t even exist back then! I started with just 5 contractors in my network—a pest control specialist, painter, handyman, floor refinisher and a plumber–and printed my direct mail cards to homeowners on a refurbished printer. My first commission check was a whopping $30!
Once my business became profitable, I decided to give myself a gift and hired a few of the incredible contractors in my network to renovate our front porch and convert it into my home office:
This is a clip of the first news article that was written about my business in 1997 in a local newspaper. After this article, my phone didn’t stop ringing with calls from contractors, homeowners and other entrepreneurs who were all interested in my business:
By year two, my income had almost doubled and gained the attention of homeowners and contractors nationwide, not to mention the media:
Now, 20 years later, I have worked with almost 100 contractors and am proud to say that 80% of the ones who first started with me are still in my network (including the contractor who paid me my first $30 commission)! I still work alone but am now connected with 300 other incredible business owners who are operating HRN businesses like mine all across the country.
Over the years, I’ve seen the start of companies like Improvenet, Angie’s List and Home Advisor to name a few—all of whom attempt to satisfy the universal need for homeowners to find trustworthy contractors. I started Home Remedies before all of them and have been able to compete and survive for two basic reasons:
- I kept my business personal and local.
- I remained true to my commitment 20 years ago which was to be a “trustworthy resource for local homeowners and an outsourced sales and marketing force for local contractors”.
I never dreamed that the simple home based business I launched from my basement would have grown into a cottage industry nationwide. The rewards have been tremendous and I am grateful for my clients, my contractors and all of my fellow HRN owners who have helped me achieve this extraordinary milestone!
My father was my role model, mentor and best friend for 47 years. I credit his sage advice for many of the blessings in my life including a happy marriage, wonderful children and yes, my successful business. I learned some of the most important lessons from my father just by watching how he lived his own life. He was on his own from the age of 13 and his life experience made him resourceful, street smart and self-sufficient. Sadly, my father passed away 2 ½ years ago, and, as anyone who has lost a parent knows, the loss is unimaginable.
Over the years as my father grew older, his lessons became even more valuable to me because I knew that my time with him was limited. His mind remained sharp but it was clear to him (and to me) that his body wasn’t as strong as it used to be and safety was becoming an issue. He was living alone in a house in Florida and I spent many sleepless nights worrying about potential hazards, accidents, etc.
My father wasn’t one to ask for help so, on every birthday and holiday, I gave him a gift that would make his life more manageable-an automatic garage door opener, carts to wheel out his recyclables, new appliances, shower grab bars, large print books and eventually an aide to stay with him on the weekends. He was proud and accepted my gifts with humility because I think he knew they would help him remain in the home he loved for as long as possible which thankfully, he did.
As I prepare to muddle through another Father’s Day without him, it occurs to me that although he’s not here, my father continues to teach and guide me. Watching him live out his years in his home was the brainchild for the newest chapter in my business, www.aginginplacereferrals.com. Keeping him safe was a priority and finding contractors and service providers who could help me do that made me realize first-hand the value that my business can offer to senior homeowners and their caregivers who are in the same position as I was.
My father was my biggest fan and I was his. I know that he’s looking down on me and is proud of the business I built, the mother and wife I am and the person I’ve become. It’s all a testament to him and for that I am blessed.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad!
Below is an e-mail I received today from a successful Homeowner Referral Network (HRN®) owner. No greater reward than this!
Just wanted to thank you for the confidence your referral business strategy instilled in us. Since we first purchased our HRN business packet our company has grown steadily. We were apprehensive in the beginning but your program gave us the confidence to try new things. We have been quite successful in those endeavors as well.
I’m sure you ask yourself if your dream has ever helped others to experience what running a successful business feels like. I have experienced that feeling and am grateful for being able to share a tiny part of your vision.
If you’re looking for inspiration to launch your own home based business, below is an excerpt of my home based business success story on About.com:
What steps did you take to get started?
I launched Home Remedies on an old farm table in my basement with a $5,000 loan from my husband’s retirement savings plan, a refurbished fax machine, computer and a phone. I took advantage of our local SCORE chapter and even hired a retired ad executive who worked there to design my logo. A friend, who is also a attorney, filed my corporation paperwork. I spent months researching local contractor licensing laws, how to structure my business, compensation models, etc. And when I was ready to officially launch my business, I decided to create a Board of Advisors who I could turn to for advice…
To read the complete story, click here