Today we have the pleasure of featuring veteran entrepreneur, Toby Prudhomme who owns a company that services short term rentals for military members, Military First BNB Solutions. We’ll take a look as he shares his experience as a veteran entrepreneur below.
- Tell us a little bit about Military First BNB Solutions. What got you into the industry?
I purchased a property and had to put double the budget into it to properly rehab the house. I thought short-term rental would provide an opportunity to recoup our money quicker than traditional long-term rentals
As a military service member, I remember traveling to many places and not wanting to stay in a 600 sq ft hotel room because of the small space, additional food costs, and restricted locations.
I managed the property, cleaned the property, and did all aspects of short-term rental execution. It was tedious and hard, and I began to understand that it was a full-time job.
I talked to others with STRs and realized that many no longer had the time to manage 1 or 2 properties
After realizing the enormous demand from guests and the lack of experienced management companies, I decided an STR company could provide needed services.
Part of my research included calling all property management companies near Fayetteville, NC to ask to rent a property for 3 months or less. Not a single company provided this service, nor would the majority even ask property owners if they would consider this concept.
All of my research made the decision very easy for me.
- What would you say drove you to start your own company?
I spent 21 years in the military, owned 3 companies, and earned my Doctor of Financial Management; yet, I was told again and again that I didn’t have enough experience or knowledge to add value unless I started at the bottom of each company and spent 5 years learning.
I realized I had just as much or more experience than many executives, but more importantly I realized I could figure things out while simultaneously bringing an enormous amount of value to the table.
As a military officer and former business owner, I realized I had human resource management knowledge, finance knowledge, operations knowledge, etc.
I realized my value, knowledge and experience. Each interview tried to downplay and undervalued my worth. What resources have you found the most helpful from day 1? Do you have any tips for aspiring veteran entrepreneurs?
An accountant—the first person I hired when I established the company that has provided great guidance and advice
Reading about other peoples’ experiences in business and different perspectives of history. I read/listen to 3 books a month to try to stay current and leverage other peoples’ experience.
My network—I didn’t realize the value of the network until I began reaching out to people even if it were just to get feedback on an idea. What I didn’t realize was the amount of assistance people were willing to provide to help others avoid the mistake they might have made in the past. It’s inspiring and extremely helpful.
- What has been the biggest challenge thus far as you’ve looked to grow your businesses?
Funding—I’ve spoken to over 300 lenders and the majority want to take advantage of business owners by hiding the details of their operation. When people call me about money, I ask them the rate range and the length of term. If they can’t answer those two questions immediately, I end the conversation. As a business owner, I realized that TIME is most important, and the most valuable asset for me.
- How would you say that your military service prepared you for your role today?
My military service provided me with human resource management, finance, operations, planning, counseling, etc.
Communicating complex issues in short and concise means provides great benefits, but many people perceive this as arrogant or elitist. It stems from the understanding of meticulous time management to maximize me as a resource.
- Is there anything else that you would like to share with aspiring veteran entrepreneurs?
I now realize that I began learning about business as a child. I grew up on a 10 acre farm in Louisiana. We fixed things when they broke because we didn’t have the ability to pay someone else to do it for us.
We owned mobile home park where my parents rented out spaces to home owners. We fixed water lines, installed electrical boxes, repaired sewer leaks, etc. My mom managed the books and interacted with all the tenants. It’s only now I realize that listening to those conversations and helping with all the work, that I learned a ton.
My experiences throughout life helped to shape me into an entrepreneur. Interesting that I look at things, and always wonder how they could be improved.
Below: A look at Toby’s First listing today vs. when he first purchased it!
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