With a blend of fearlessness and a keen eye for improvement, Kerri Davis has taken the world of property management by storm.
As we dive into her Entrepreneur Story, you'll discover the three vital lessons every entrepreneur should know. From surrounding yourself with the right people to embracing mistakes, Kerri's insights will leave you inspired and ready to conquer your entrepreneurial journey.
What are three things every Entrepreneur should know?
Kerri Davis expressed her thoughts and feelings about being an entrepreneur in response to this question. She began by acknowledging, very honestly and openly, that she doesn't see herself as an exceptional leader or entrepreneur; instead, she believes her success is largely due to luck, hard work, and surrounding herself with great people.
That being said, the three things that Kerri believes every entrepreneur should know are as follows:
- Surround Yourself With The Right People:
This isn’t a new point here on entrepreneur stories, as many entrepreneurs have stressed the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people. However, Kerri had a different take on this point, adding that a significant aspect of being an entrepreneur is knowing when to let go of certain individuals or move them to different roles within the organization.
She emphasized that this is uncomfortable and challenging for many people, but it's essential for the success of your business.
2. Embrace Mistakes:
Kerri admitted to making plenty of mistakes - probably more than even she knows! However, the key according to Kerri is to be aware of them, learn from them, and continue on your way. Mistakes are inevitable and the sooner you get comfortable with making them and moving on from them, the better.
3. Learn to Deal with Loneliness:
Being an entrepreneur can often lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. It's a tough journey that requires resilience and the ability to navigate through challenging times. In saying that, Kerri clarified that just because you feel lonely doesn’t mean you’re alone.
If you can open up and share the burden of entrepreneurship with your team and support system, it gets a lot less lonely and can be a lot more successful quickly.
What problem does your business solve and who are its customers?
Kerri is the co-founder and CEO of Fortress which exists now because Kerri joined a real estate company. Over time, she took over the leadership of a property management company responsible for managing apartment communities. While there, Kerri handled various tasks and, in doing so, noticed a crucial problem.
There was a core piece of technology that most of the company was using to try to create success in those assets and, to put it plainly, it was terrible. It lacked essential features, provided outdated reports, and was difficult to learn and implement. Initially, Kerri tried other solutions from the market but found them disappointing.
Eventually, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Kerri then teamed up with her now partners and developed "Fortress," which is a comprehensive property management software. It covers all the critical functions needed for managing apartment communities, including features like real-time unit availability and pricing on websites, applicant portals for online applications and rent payments, and a mobile app for maintenance technicians to handle work orders and capture photos.
Fortress aims to provide effective solutions for property management companies operating in one of the most challenging industries the speaker has ever experienced.
What inspired you to become an Entrepreneur?
On a daily basis, Kerri finds herself fluctuating between two roles: an extreme problem solver and an extreme troublemaker.
The idea for Fortress originated from this dynamic as Kerri has no fear of addressing difficult issues and pointing out what's wrong or broken - even if others might not want to hear it. She has a strong desire to improve things and constantly looks for ways to make them better, which sets her apart from those who are content with the status quo.
Prior to joining the Elmington family of companies, Kerri admitted to finding herself in trouble at a lot of previous jobs because of these troublemaker tendencies. However, in her current environment as an entrepreneur, being a troublemaker is not only accepted but rewarded.
Kerri’s motivation behind creating Fortress wasn't primarily driven by money. Rather, it was rooted in the desire to improve the lives and success of her team members. She wanted to make things easier and more efficient for her colleagues.
Additionally, there was a level of excitement that arose from the opportunity to extend these solutions beyond her own company, helping other property management companies face similar challenges.
If someone had given you a million dollars when you first started your business, what would you have spent it on?
Kerri really appreciated the million-dollar question and, looking back on the development of Fortress, believes there are definitely things she could change or improve if she had the chance to do it all over again with a million-dollar investment - like increasing automation and leveraging AI more within the solution.
With that being said, constructing the core system of Fortress was a necessary step to establish the software's foundation, making it the most significant undertaking of all. If offered a million dollars to begin the entire process anew today, Kerri would need to carefully consider it. The reason being that a lot of the success Fortress achieved was due to Kerri’s own ignorance at the beginning.
Had she known all the challenges and difficulties they were going to face, she may have been discouraged from even starting the project in the first place. Kerri truly believes in the product they have created and is immensely proud of it as it is.
What is your proudest accomplishment as an Entrepreneur?
Kerri's proudest accomplishment as an entrepreneur is undoubtedly the exceptional team she has built around herself. Throughout her career, this achievement remains a constant source of pride. The team she works with has consistently been incredible, fully embracing the vision and mission of their work, whether it's related to Fortress or Elmington property management.
Witnessing the team's unity, belief in the company's purpose, and their enjoyment of being part of the organization brings Kerri the greatest joy. While Fortress and Elmington's contributions to providing solutions for residents of their apartment homes are meaningful, Kerri acknowledges that their work doesn't involve saving lives.
However, what truly motivates her every day is the opportunity to collaborate with remarkable individuals, foster strong relationships, and create an environment where her team enjoys their work and feels fulfilled.
What big goals are you looking to achieve?
Kerri has some ambitious goals for this year, mainly focused on bringing in more clients and increasing the number of units in Fortress. However, her real excitement lies in the big goals she envisions for 2024 and 2025. She aims to grow the company tenfold during this period.
One crucial aspect of this growth is creating a corporate office space. Although Fortress will maintain a remote-first approach, Kerri desires to have a physical space where the team can come together regularly, even if it's just for a few days or a week each month. Having this kind of flexibility and environment is essential for fostering stronger connections and collaboration among team members due to the expected growth.
Kerri is also thrilled about expanding the team, especially the executive leadership team, which she considers to be incredible. With the projected growth, these leaders will have the capacity to support much larger teams than they currently do, and Kerri is looking forward to providing the opportunities for this expansion.
Kerri’s story is one sure to resonate with many entrepreneurs, with her desire to make things better, a dash of troublemaking, and a pinch of imposter syndrome. Although being an entrepreneur can feel like a lonely journey, you’re never in it alone. Contact us today to share your own Entrepreneur Story and connect with other rabble-rousers like yourself.
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