Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jaz Wray, owner of SeaRay and SkiRay Rental Properties, located in Surfside Beach, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Short-term rental properties in vacation destinations within driving distance from major cities. Customers are primarily families looking to get away without booking a flight. However, some guests still fly in to stay at my properties.
Tell us about yourself
I was selling a long-term rental property and didn't want to pay the income taxes on the gains in the property value over the nearly 20 years we owned the property. So, we decided to purchase short-term rental properties in areas we would also like to vacation. We purchased a beach house and a property across the street from a major ski resort. I enjoy providing value to our guests in a high-end vacation rental that includes everything they could possibly want or need. Since I stay at these same properties with my own family when we are on vacation, I include all of the amenities and features that I would want to have. I have found our guests don't mind paying a premium when their expectations are exceeded.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Every business endeavor has been profitable. I can't say the same about my investments in the stock market; however, every investment in myself has paid off. To be fair, I have decided not to proceed with businesses after a lot of preparatory work when determining they were unlikely to be successful. So, before making the final step of opening our doors to the public, I pulled the plug prior to the business launch. You would rather start before opening if you already figured out the business would not likely make enough money to justify the risk, even if at the last moment.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
When owning your own business, you are taking all of the risks and making all of the decisions. On the positive side, if it works out, you get all of the rewards. From our first year of owning the beach property, I used to proceeds to purchase a small plane and start a plane partnership. Our ski property is paying for itself, and the bank account continues to grow while the property value has more than doubled over the past two and a half years.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Just like a good carpenter, you need to "measure twice and cut once." Before you make the big financial decision, make sure you have evaluated in detail and considered all of the possibilities. I know many business owners who lost their businesses during the lockdowns. Of course, it's hard to plan for a global pandemic; however, you need to determine if your business can thrive in an upmarket and also a downmarket. One of the reasons we picked vacation rental properties within driving distance of major cities is that we figured that even if the economy is hit very hard, people will still want to take vacations. If people can't afford to fly somewhere, there will still be families able to drive from their major city for vacation. It has worked out very well for us.
- Have a backup plan if everything goes wrong and your primary plan doesn't work out. For us, we purchased properties we would be willing to live in if everything went wrong in the global economy.
- Understand the financial aspects of your business in detail. One of our businesses would have been very successful if the returns stated by the real estate agent were the net returns. However, they were instead the gross returns (not including all of the expenses). So, our business on a vacation rental property in Hawaii went from being very lucrative to be a business we plan on selling to instead move that money into another opportunity for a better return.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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