Harrine Freeman was kind enough to participate in one of our entrepreneur interviews.
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She is a celebrated author and a talented entrepreneur. We asked her to talk about what she's doing and some of the lessons she's learned along the way.
Harrine, tell us about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
H.E. Freeman Enterprises is a personal finance services business that provides credit counseling and money management services.
We assist clients with restoring their credit, developing money management skills to help them pay off their debt as well as financial planning.
The business is located at 3 Bethesda Metro Center, Suite 700, Bethesda, MD 20814.
When did you start the business?
The business started in January 2002.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
My background was in Information Technology. Yes, this is my first business.
Where did you get the startup money?
I funded the startup expenses with personal savings. I have good credit but didn't want to owe anyone since my startup costs were small.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
The main competitors are other credit counseling agencies, debt consolidation and debt settlement companies.
I compete against them will excellent customer service, my personal experience with debt and ensuring that my clients are 100% satisfied.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
Yes, it is has been very rewarding and fulfilling and makes up for any minor obstacles that may occur. I truly enjoy helping my clients and reward in their successes.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I wish I had developed a support infrastructure when I first started. I did not hire additional staff until a few years after I started my business.
I would stay up until 2, 3, 6 in the morning working and basically burned myself out and was forced to get help. Don't do this.
You grow your business faster by having a support infrastructure. If you can't afford to hire staff get a high school or college student and in exchange they can get community service hours or college credit.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
I have continued to market my business by attending networking events and getting referrals by word of mouth.
I am also an author of a book called How to Get Out of Debt. Sometimes I go into a bookstore and if I see someone in the area where my book is, I pick up my book and start reading it and walk away. This usually peaks interest in the other person who also picks up my book.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
I would recommend doing your homework first. Do extensive research on how to start and maintain a business as well as research on how to generate capital if you are unable to get approved for a business loan.
Think outside the box for creative ways to market your business and your services.
Create a 30 second elevator speech this describes your business. Always carry business cards with you and mention your business during every interaction with others even if they are not interested ask them to refer you to someone who might be interested in your services.
Great advice for new entrepreneurs, Harrine. Thanks for joining us for one of our entrepreneur interviews. By the way, for those of you who are reading this, folks that need assistance with credit repair or personal financial services can reach H.E. Freeman Enterprises at (301) 280-5923.