Jill Russo Foster has been helping people to get mortgages for years.
For anybody who wants to start a mortgage company, this entrepreneur interview is a must-read.
Jill, tell us about your companies.
I have two related businesses, The Mortgage Arrangers, LLC, a Connecticut mortgage broker and then Jill Russo Foster for my recently self published book, Cash Credit and Your Finances: The Teen Years.
I am based in Norwalk, Connecticut. I have been self employed in the mortgage field since 1997 and started The Mortgage Arrangers, LLC in 2002. Jill Russo Foster was started earlier this year.
In addition to running my businesses, I am a speaker on home-buying, the mortgage process and other related topics.
I believe strongly that people should understand their personal finances and what consequences their decisions will yield. I truly believe that an informed person will make better financial choices and not encounter as many problems as an uninformed person.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I had a prior mortgage company from 1997 to 2002 called Real Estate Financial Group, LLC. I have been in the banking and mortgage industry for my whole professional career. No, this isn't my first business. I had left the banking field for several years and was a personnel recruiter and then started my first company which I sold to go back into the banking / mortgage field.
Where did you get the startup money?
I started my business with my personal savings. More recently, I used credit card money to finance my self-published book.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
For the mortgage company, I compete with banks, mortgage company's lenders and brokers and online sites.
I have always competed based on personalized knowledgeable services. You can see testimonials on my website.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
Being a solo entrepreneur is a lot lonelier than I expected. Having to do most of everything myself is another thing. I now have a virtual assistant that does a lot of work for me, but she is located in Michigan.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I would have liked to have had more start up cash to have hired more people so that I am not doing everything myself.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
I became the "expert" by doing seminars for the many different adult education programs in local towns. The adult education brochure goes out to every household in the community with me as the instructor.
I constantly network with other strategic alliances (real estate and divorce attorneys, financial planners, accountants etc). I have been in a year long business Mastermind Program and have just renewed for another year. This has me brainstorming and getting feedback from other entrepreneurs.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
I would recommend that new entrepreneurs in this field start part time. Build up your business while you still have your other work income for the rough months. Also, have a plan (not necessarily a business plan) but a detailed set of goals that you want to accomplish.
That's great advice, and, again, thanks so much for joining us for one of our entrepreneur interviews, Jill.