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Jim Barnish is back behind the desk on this episode of The DIRT Podcast, where his first guest is a fellow grit-weathered entrepreneur: former US marine and founder/CEO of RentPrep, Stephen White. Their discussion is all about community, specifically how to build an effective and safe space for your members, by securing operational systems and spending more time on the business instead of in the business. Plus, get the raw truth about entrepreneurs, smooth seas, and skilled sailors (Sound familiar?).

From this Episode:

Spend time on the business, not just in the business.

Stephen White

Founder & CEO of RentPrep

ABOUT OUR PODCAST

Stephen is the founder and CEO of RentPrep, the leading tenant screening solution for busy landlords. He is a former United States Marine with over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience in real estate and the credit industry. He is a frequent presenter and keynote speaker for real estate and investor events and is an avid reader, lifelong learner, and lover of nature.

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Show Notes

Jim Barnish is back behind the desk on this episode of The DIRT Podcast, where his first guest is a fellow grit-weathered entrepreneur: former US marine and founder/CEO of RentPrep, Stephen White. Their discussion is all about community, specifically how to build an effective and safe space for your members, by securing operational systems and spending more time on the business instead of in the business. Plus, get the raw truth about entrepreneurs, smooth seas, and skilled sailors (Sound familiar?).

3 Key Takeaways

  • How RentPrep adds value in a way most other businesses don't
  • How Stephen's bustling company community came from a failed business idea
  • Why Stephen turns down three times more applicants than he accepts into their community

Show Notes

[0:00] Jim introduces our guest and discussion topic

  • Former US Marine
  • Keynote speaker and good dude in general
  • Strategy and culture in the real estate community he built from ground-up
  • Founder and CEO of RentPrep

[1:20] How he went from the Marines to entrepreneurship

  • How it conditioned him to push forward when you don't think you can
  • The leadership side's affect on his business ownership
  • He's on his third company
  • Starting out with his father's chimney company as training grounds
  • Getting into the credit side of things

[5:00] What sets RentPrep apart from the industry

  • Why its first version failed
  • Not educating people on how it works
  • There's an art to background checking
  • "We're still using a blend of technology and highly trained screeners--humans--that compile reports and bring the most accurate background checks." -Stephen White
  • Keeping it reasonable and competitive

[9:20] Tech subject matter experts

  • They specialize in helping other people human-to-human to run a report
  • The concept of elite screeners
  • "Every employee should be a screener first." -Stephen White
  • "We exist to help landlords." -Stephen White

[12:40] Community is a part of their culture

  • Their community came from their failed business idea
  • "For any new entrepreneurs out there listening, start rethinking what failure is. Fail forward." -Stephen White
  • Stephen's example of a course-centered community
  • Screening the community members to ensure the members can benefit and serve the community
  • Stephen turns down three times more applicants than he accepts into their community

[16:00] Stephen's story of a magic transaction in the community

  • A tenant's house caught fire
  • Four landlords contributed their similar life experience within 24 hours
  • "We wanted to create a safe space for landlords where the industry is clean." -Stephen White
  • Don't ask for anything in return other than that they be a good community member
  • Employing passionate moderators

[23:20] How Stephen plans to build on their community investments and scaling the business

  • The community is an untapped depository of landlord wisdom that could be pulled out in the future
  • Leveraging that to share with more people in the future
  • His origin was not in tech; he looks at the community in an old school way

[27:00] What do prospective buyers love so much about RentPrep?

  • They've made some big mistakes!
  • Smooth seas don't make skilled sailors
  • The value comes from doing things right for a long time
  • Creating good, consistent content that is largely organic and laser-targeted
  • Stephen's example of a time their company was indexed out of Google
  • Becoming obsessed with content marketing and writing the first 100 blogs

[32:00] How Stephen adds value in a way most other businesses don't

  • His sound strategic and operational planning system
  • EOS
  • The influence of Traction by Gino Wickman
  • Check out the operational management system: US
  • "It's less important what operational system that you use and more that you have one." -Stephen White
  • The leadership team that they have today

[37:01] Stephen explains the person they hired on to get them up-and-running

  • Implementors aren't cheap, but the money proves you're taking it serious
  • Don't skip that step, even if you're planning to do it on your own in a few years!

[40:00] Don't be put off by the name "US Entrepreneur"

  • It can fit any business model

[41:05] One of Jim's favorite parts of the US model

  • The level-10 meeting
  • Make a commitment to your sacred time
  • Be willing to say no to others who want you to block that time
  • Department leaders come together and find solutions;
  • "Spend time on the business, not just in the business all of the time." -Stephen White
  • Scheduling an hour before the meeting to run through topics and gather data

[45:10] Becoming more vulnerable as a founder and leader

  • Have a tribe that you can share your concerns of the day with if you can't with your employees
  • Winning the Vision's Impact Award for his vulnerability
  • Knowing who he is
  • When the business started to become successful, it didn't feel like it to Stephen
  • Going to therapy was one of the best things he's ever done
  • Finding his purpose and aligning what he does with that purpose

[[51:40] A top metric or measure that he's relentlessly focused on

  • Traffic growth

[51:50] top tip for growth stage founders like Stephen White

  • Identify those KPIs!

[52:08] His favorite book or podcast that's helped him grow

  • Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill

[52:33] What actor would play Stephen in a movie?

  • Leonardo DiCaprio

[52:55] The title of his autobiography

  • Vulnerability

Resources

Website: RentPrep (Check them out as a fellow entrepreneur!)

EOS: Entrepreneurial Operating System

Connect with Stephen: steve@rentprep.com

Stephen's Linkedin

Traction by Gino Wickman

Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill