Building Resources In Your Community

WITH

Reda Hicks

The Limitless Podcast

Building Resources In Your Community

with Reda Hicks

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Our world will be a better place if we help each other out more. There are times when we’re too focused on our own plans, we forget to nurture relationships with people in the community, but it is through solid connections that we discover greater opportunities together and grow together.

Reda Hicks, has taught multiple communities how to treat each other as resources. She found a way for entrepreneurs to create new revenue streams for their businesses through her free platform GotSpot, while also helping entrepreneurs looking for space easily and affordably rent it as they need it. It’s like AirBnB, but for short-term space rentals for your business.

"Success is not a straight line, but if we can straighten the road leading us to it, that goes a long way over time."

- Reda Hicks
@LimitlessShow @franklyco_

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IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN

  • How to increase revenue through treating your neighbor in business as a resource.

  • How to build a resilient community through creating strong relationships.

  • How to align challenges and opportunities so different companies can contribute to each other’s growth.

LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE

Johanna Buchweitz:
How would you feel if time and money were no objects or if you always knew that the answers you sought were at your fingertips or that the creative sparks you would need for the next project was always going to be there? You would feel limitless. I’m Johanna Buchweitz, and it is my honor to welcome all of you to limitless the show where we have open, honest, and direct communication with extraordinary women in business to provide you with actual next steps for super growth based on their proven success tactics. Joining me on today’s episode is Reda Hicks, an attorney, serial entrepreneur, and founder of a tech company called Gots Spot, which is a day rental marketplace for businesses to borrow space from each other. She also runs an organizational development consulting firm called Nexus, helping businesses and non-profits think strategically about growth, operations, and leadership. Reda, welcome to Limitless.

Reda Hicks:
Thank you so much for having me. I’m happy to.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I’m excited to have you here and, anyone you know, who’s tuning in for the first time, you’ll get used to this, but, to, to those of you who’ve been here before, you know the drill. I love to start every episode with this belief that I have, that every single female entrepreneur is truly a modern-day superhero. So as a superhero entrepreneur, you are, What’s your superpower?

Reda Hicks:
Ooh. Well, you’re gonna laugh, but, my superpower is making sense of somebody else’s spaghetti on the wall. I am that person that people call to say, I have a big hair problem and I’m not not sure what to do next. And we sit down and we brainstorm it into a crazy web on the wall, and then we make sense of it together. So I would say that that spaghetti on the wall in a sense, that’s my super.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that. That is awesome. thank you for sharing that. So I would love for you to like, start off by just sharing with everyone a little bit about yourself and about the work that you do.

Reda Hicks:
Sure. So I, I’m based in Houston, Texas. I’ve been here. 17 years, most of that time as a practicing attorney. About three years ago, I dipped my toe into entrepreneurship. For the first time, I launched my company, which is called Gots Spot. And it’s like an Airbnb-style model, but for businesses to borrow space from each other. and I really launched that business as a way to solve a couple of different problems that I saw in my small business community. So many like great local businesses that were failing cuz they missed rent a couple of months in a row. While some of my entrepreneur friends who didn’t have their own space were having to say no to opportunities cuz they couldn’t find space. So I started Got Spot as a way to sort of digitally match-make between those two kinds of businesses so that they can help each other grow. and then I launched my company Nexus as kind of a next step way to help think through, Okay, well we’ve got your space problem tackled, but what else do you need? Are you having challenges around leadership? Are you having, challenges thinking about how to, you know, grow or how to? You know, set your plan for the next three to five years or like what are those things that are keeping you up at night? And I sit down with companies and help them, sort them out. Nonprofits as well. Basically, anybody who’s got a mission to make their community better, I’m right there with you basically riding sidekick, trying to help you figure out how to do it. And certainly taps into my superpower, but it also, I just. I love connection and particularly hyper-local connection. I just really believe that when communities learn to treat each other as resources, you see like entire neighborhoods lifted up. , So also I’m married and I have two kids that are growing up here in Houston and are wild and crazy ride together. My husband is also an entrepreneur. It’s a little bit of a hectic place to be growing up, but they’re, they love it. They’re along for the ride.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that. And, and, and I like what you said too because like with the community aspect, like what I’ve seen is growth kind of skyrockets all around, especially when a community has the mentality of all of us can win, all of us can work together. You know, something that I don’t, I know something you don’t. And when we like, share that we are all able to grow and, and it’s pretty cool to see the magic that kind of happens with that collaboration. What kind of attorney were you when you were practicing full-time?

Reda Hicks:
Oh, So the first almost 10 years of my practice, I was in a law firm, litigation, commercial litigation, but with a specialty called Who Killed the Company. And we were the attorneys that would go in after something like Enron happened. You know, some major company implodes and no one saw it coming and everyone is shocked and everyone’s trying to figure out what happened. So you have. The DOJ looking at it from a criminal perspective, but then attorneys like me going in and trying to put together like, okay, what act, what, you know, what happened? Where did the money go? Who was responsible to try to figure out if there’s any way to get any of those resources back to pay the small businesses that had contracts and pay the employees that had pension plans and that kind of thing? So I spent most of that first decade hopping in and out of all different kinds of industries, you know, fruit orchards in California, Coal mines in Appalachia, You name it. Just trying to help. Figure out how to help really hell to help communities pick up the pieces when a company we thought was too big to fail when under. And then, around 2014, I transitioned to an in-house counsel, meaning inside of a company lawyer, mostly because even though I love my job in law firm practice, I was. I was on a plane three days a week, and as a family, we decided it would be better for me to be home more. At the time, we had only one kid, but he was five and he was not super thrilled with how much I was away. And so I transitioned in house and I spent the next six years before I went out on my own working inside a global logistics company, doing a little bit of everything.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Wow. So I definitely wanna talk about everything that you’re doing now, but I know for all the entrepreneurs listening right now, what are the biggest things that comes up in like, you know, questions of like, what do I do, what do I need to know? Is anything dealing with business law? And I know like there’s different things, you know, different components to it, but at least as much as you can from a general sense. Like are there any best practices you can share with anyone listening right? you know, as a founder, like when you’re growing your company or just things to be mindful of cuz we’ve heard too many horror stories of, you know, hired the wrong attorney or, I don’t even know what to do, do I need an attorney? Like, and so many questions around the legal space so that it just leaves a lot of confusion and, a great area for assistance that we can provide if possible.

Reda Hicks:
So, a couple of pieces of advice. One of them is if you are trying to start a business and you really don’t feel like you can h afford to hire an attorney right now, take care with the resources that you use. There are some really good ones, on the market that have some good forms and templates and that kind of thing that can help you. Think through the paperwork that you need to file with your state in order to become a business legal. Zoom is one up council is another. But I always recommend if you’re going to use one of those kinds of resources, make sure it’s a really well-vetted one, and that the individual resources that you choose have been reviewed by a lot of people. Cuz you’ll see some. You know, fly-by-night operations that, you know, I’m always a little bit wary if you don’t get your paperwork right, then that’s gonna cause tax problems for you later. It’s gonna cause problems if you try to fundraise later. All of those things. Mm-hmm. . So if you want to run leanly, make sure that you use sort of a time-tested resource. But the other piece of advice though is do some shopping. Because it might surprise you what you actually can afford. Number one. you should think about any professional you’re gonna hire, whether it’s a lawyer or CPA or whomever. a little bit like matchmaking. So interview a few, and get a feel for what kind of temperament you’re looking for. You know, what kind of cadence you want with your lawyer? You can get different rates from different attorneys to figure out what you think you can afford and who you feel most comfortable with, and that’s really who you should go with. The second piece of advice about attorney shopping is, it’s good to have a candid conversation when you’re talking to attorneys. You’re thinking about hiring about what your needs are, cuz small business lawyers. Understand the challenges of starting a new business and they are very happy to field questions. You’re never gonna ask anything that you know. No attorney is no good attorney anyway is ever gonna make you feel like you’re asking a silly question because you just don’t know. You know, my background is law.I have a property technology company. I asked all the silly questions, and thank God there were people who would answer them. All of the good attorneys I know are the very same way about legal issues. So do not be shy about asking. Do not be shy about shopping around. And if you get to a place where you feel really uncomfortable with the attorney, do not be shy about telling them. So, because like any other relationship that you have in your business like you need to feel good about the people that are around you, and you need to feel like you can trust the information that you’re getting.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Thank you for that. Super, super helpful. so what was that transition like from, you know, working at as general counsel at a company to going out on your own? Like walk us through a little bit of that journey, like, you know, and also like the learning curves, cause I’m sure there were quite a few when you first got started.

Reda Hicks:
So, I’m super lucky in my professional journey because when I made the decision to go in-house. I went in-house at a freight forwarder. You know, unless you work in logistics, you’ve probably never heard of. But that’s basically the professional middleman that a really big company hires to handle the supply chain for them, right? So think about your Exxon’s and Chevrons, your Halliburtons, your Starbucks. They’re not managing every piece of their supply chain themselves. They hire a freight forwarder to do it. And what that meant was I was going into an industry I’d never heard of before. So many moving parts, planes, trains, automobiles, warehousing, all these things. And even though it was a hundred-year-old company and massive 16,000 employees in 85 countries, wow. it still acted like a startup in a lot of ways. Like it was really entrepreneurial. Even though it’s 16,000 employees, it was only, only four lawyers in the US and then we had counterparts in a couple of other parts of the world. But like we were a really small lean team. and we. Were treated like part of the business team. So I, I would go to operations meetings and I would go to finance meetings and I would go to, you know, sales and marketing meetings and get a chance to listen to all of those teams. cuz the mentor I worked for, he thought it’s really important for you to understand every aspect of the business so you can provide really good advice, so that you can understand the needs of your business and so that you can give them, you know, the, you know, legal advice that’s gonna. The mitigate risk, certainly, but also power businesses like ours, our, our, so many lawyers like are taught to default to know, but my mentor taught me it’s not, No, unless the law says it’s no. In every other instance, it’s, let’s figure it out. Let’s see what, what might make it work and. That was such a rich, important education for me because I was doing, you know, mainline legal work, but I was also learning all the different aspects of business. So when I decided to do my own thing, I had this like kind of beautiful baseline to start from, from having had that experience. And you know, now so much of the work that I do outside of my company got spot is helping companies think about the pieces of their business that weren’t in their own. Professional language. You know, everybody who starts a business starts with the professional language. They speak. Either they came from marketing or they came from engineering, or they came from whatever it was they came from, and they’re having to learn the rest. And a lot of, the time I spend is using that little bit of, cafeteria-style on-the-job education. I got to help people think about the. Sort of professional languages. They don’t speak and feel empowered to make decisions in those spaces.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that. That, that’s incredible. And so is it, a platform itself? Like how does it work? Like if you own, like, you know, office space, if you’re looking to run office space, like how does that work from both sides of it?

Reda Hicks:
So, Got spot, it’s a mobile-friendly, web-based piece of software, and basically what I am is that professional middleman that I’ve professionally learned to be. But I, what I’m trying to do is just create the place where anybody who has space, like let’s say you have, you know, really beautiful restaurant with, you know, private spaces you wanna make available. A kitchen, you wanna let people borrow on the days that you’re closed. You have the ability to use a platform to create listings and make it available on the terms that you want. And then, on the user side, you know, let’s say I’m a cottage baker and I wanna borrow your kitchen. I can go on the platform and search by a category, search by a zip code and find what’s available in my community to rent from another business. And then I can just book the blocks of time that make sense for me, pay you. And then, you know, both of us have have benefited from the relationship.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Wow, that’s pretty cool. So I guess, my, my question would be when you have something like that, I think one of the fun things, but also sometimes the challenge is that you need both sides in order to thrive. Right. Like, so you, you need to like, you’re not just like when you have a business and you’re thinking about, Oh, I need clients, I need customers. You’re like, Okay, I’m going after one avenue, but this type of business you’re going after two because it’s not gonna work unless both are on board. But then you can sometimes get into that little fun cycle of like, Oh, you know, the person who has that space is saying, Well, I don’t wanna give it to you because you don’t have enough people who might want it. And then someone might say, Oh, you don’t have enough like options. So how do you tackle that?

Reda Hicks:
It’s tricky. Marketplaces are really hard for just the reason you described, right? It’s so chicken and egg. What I have found is that users will spend more time on the platform than more listings. There are. So I go to businesses that have space and say, you know, this is a little bit of an experiment. We’re creating a new market. We’re, we’re basically building a new idea that you can buy local space. So, Give me a shot. Let’s take the next, you know, six months we’re gonna create listings of your space. I’m gonna be able to put marketing around your space to attract what I think are the kinds of users that are gonna be good for your business. and if it doesn’t work out, then that’s fine, but if it does, that’s great because that’s money that you weren’t anticipating. Bringing in this revenue that you can then put into your business or put towards your rent because it is a little bit of a building pro. I’m co-creating with my users, basically. And so I made the decision early on that use of the platform would be free. I only generate revenue on the actual transactions that I make. . Mm-hmm. . So the businesses that have space really have nothing to lose just by giving it a try. and then what’s great about it is once I get a nucleus of space in a particular neighborhood, then you can do sort of neighborhood-based marketing for people who want to be, selling in that space. Whether it’s selling yoga classes or selling some kind of product or some kind of service, they can, they can target once that nucleus is built. I can make, create whole marketing campaigns around it. And then all of those businesses that are near each other are benefiting from the fact that they all gave God’s spot a try.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I like that. So in the beginning, let’s say with like a Airbnb, cuz you talked about that in the beginning, you know, most people decided, okay, I’m gonna, you know, put my apartment up here because like you said, it’s like a great way to earn like extra money. If I’m not using it, I don’t need it. It’s like it, otherwise, I’m still paying rent or whatever. But now I get to earn some income. But what happened over time is people were starting to like purchase apartment. And properties specifically to rent out. Do you find that’s starting to happen with you guys as well?

Reda Hicks:
That is starting to happen, but not because of me. Right. Basically what you’re describing is co-working, right? You have businesses, their entire model is buying up space, to create new built environments of sort of micro term office rental. Right? And some of them offer day passes, usually, not usually what they want. What they want is a monthly subscriber, but they’re coming into a business community that already has an office footprint and creating new built environments. I think, on the one hand, there’s definitely a market for that. With there are people who need flexible access to space. They like the community built by co-working locations. But then the downside is the same downside that you see with Airbnb in the sense. There were already office spaces underutilized in a place. So for example, I lived in Houston for the nine years I worked in that law firm, we had class A beautiful office Space seven conference rooms that were empty 95% of the time. And that’s pretty indicative. That’s, I mean, most professional offices have conference rooms that sit empty a ton. Meanwhile, the rent that they’re paying is one of the largest line items in their business. And so they could be making those resources available, can now through God’s spot. but those were just, those were sitting there while WeWorks are creating even more conference rooms and even more offices. And so I think that’s a problem that the commercial real estate market is gonna have to sort out just like the residential market is, But I think what’s most beneficial to a business community is to be able to harness the power of both, right? Have those flexible spaces, those built environments that build a particular kind of culture. That’s a good thing. But then also make sure that the business is already there, have new and better ways to make sure that their space is working for them.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That makes sense. So from that example though, with a, a law firm, especially, right?, Aren’t there issues that kind of arise with like, having people who are not part of the team come in? Just because like if they overhear a conversation, right? That’s like privileged information. Like same like from like a banking perspective, like a, like, you know, I’m just thinking of like an American Express or something like that. It’s, it’s tricky to have other people on the floor because all of a sudden gets ha hush. You have all this compliance and this regulation. so how does that work from that sense?

Reda Hicks:
So a couple of things. One of them is with Airbnb, you have either automatic bookings or bookings where the host can decide yes or no. But in God’s spot, the host decides yes or no for every booking. So if someone submits a request, that law firm, for example, has a chance to look at it and say, Yes, this is an activity that we wanna host, or, No, it’s not an activity that we wanna host. , and you know, it’s entirely their choice. It’s their space, it’s their choice. In my platform, it’s really important that the host always maintains full control of their decision-making around their space. But the other thing though is, the confidentiality topic. That’s actually a selling point for a law firms, banks, other kinds of firms, their spaces are built for privacy. and so it’s actually a draw. So, for example, let’s. you have a counselor who wants to be able to host some counseling sessions in a part of town where they don’t typically see clients. The ability to borrow a very private, you know, conference room for, from a law firm and have their patients see them closer by, that’s actually a selling point for that kind of business that also needs confidentiality, but has clients that wouldn’t overlap at all with a law firm. I think the way that, at least the firms I’m talking to manage the sort of risk of, you know, what, making sure they don’t host, generally don’t get requests that they have to say no to. A lot is making clear in the listings the kind of things they’re interested in, not so, for example, if you, if it’s a family law firm and they don’t wanna host. Like mediations for other law firms, they just put that, you know, we don’t wanna host other legal activities. We’re happy to host non-profits, or we’re happy to host, you know, you know, business association meetings or that kind of thing. So the goal is let each individual space put the parameters they want to in place and they can change over time, so that they can feel comfortable. The activity they’re inviting into their space is going to gel with their business.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I like that, That makes a lot of sense. so for you guys currently, how are you marketing this?

Reda Hicks:
Yeah, it’s, it’s a little bit tricky because I have two audiences, as you mentioned, for users. It’s a lot of social media. so it’s a lot of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, because, you know, startups, virtual entrepreneurs, those kinds of folks, and also dumb profits, surprisingly enough, they do their, they crowdsource for resources. So there, you know, on social media, that’s where they’re looking for any kind of resource, including space. On the, on the, host side of my marketplace, it is marketing to business associations. Local chambers of commerce, local commercial real estate associations. Basically, the places where those businesses are congregating, that’s where I’m going to participate to do some, you know, print marketing to participate in the conferences, have booths in that kind of thing. Because at the end of the day, the single biggest challenge a marketplace has is just awareness. Awareness is not super hard with users, but with the host side of my marketplace, that’s where I have to focus a lot more attention.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah. so right now, like what is the biggest challenge that, that you guys are, are facing as you’re looking to continue to grow and scale?

Reda Hicks:
For sure. Awareness. and I think that’s just going to continue to be a challenge as we look at new markets. It’s a, it’s a new strategy every time, because even. You have a playbook, which I think at this point we have a pretty good one. It’s gonna look different, you know, in Houston than it does in Dallas or Tampa or El Paso, like pick a city. Each of them has its own sort of way that the small business and entrepreneurial ecosystem ticks and you have to get there and you have to learn it, and you have to figure out who are the trust brokers that you need to connect with to really understand. Who the people are on the ground. I spend a lot of time thinking hard about community and so I’m the last person that’s gonna just walk in and say, Hey, Reda from Houston, and here I’m gonna revolutionize your community. Well, no, I’m gonna try and add value. I’m gonna figure out the places where I can make things easy for you, make connections better for you, those kinds of things. But it starts with listening. in most things when you need to grow, it starts with listening. and so for me right now anyway, The biggest need is, who are those trust brokers in, in new communities that I’m looking at? Like, who, who are those first five conversations I need to have, to help me really understand the landscape in a new place?

Johanna Buchweitz:
How many communities are you currently operating in? Right now we’re in two in Texas and we’re looking at two more in Texas over the next 12 months. but I’ve had conversations in a lot of, cities across the Gulf Coast. That’s kind of where I’m focused. I love like, sort of midsize cities that are, Creative and entrepreneurial, but also kind of close-knit. and they are, you know, small enough that a lot of national players just don’t pay a lot of attention to the, you know, rich tapestry of resources that they have there. but those mids. Mid-size cities are also really important to me, as a military spouse because they tend also to be very close to military installations and one in three military spouses is some kind of entrepreneur. So if I’m going to build a tool, I’m going to make sure it’s available for my people to use. Also. I’m excited to, to see you guys continue to grow and open up in new cities. I think that’ll be a lot of fun for all of us to watch how. Split your time between this, you know, like running Got spot and nexus.

Reda Hicks:
Yeah. I mean, dogged scheduling. I. That’s always been true and I think it’s true. You know, for most of us, especially female founders, we spend a lot of plates. You know, we’ve got businesses, we’ve got passion points. We, some of us have families, some of us have significant others or aging parents. Just figuring out how to make sure everything is cared for is, is a constant balancing act. And so, I, I spend a lot of time thinking on Sundays about what the week needs from me and, and just trying really hard to sort of, Stay on track with that. You can’t always emergencies happen. but just sort of planning out my week to make sure this time is allocated one place and this time is allocated. And a another place. I have a middle school where he’s in several different clubs making sure that I can be present for those things. It’s, it’s a lie it’s a lot, it’s a lot of give and take. but it starts with kind of figuring out, okay, so over the next 30 days, What do I want to accomplish? How do I need to split my time up to make sure those things are done and that I don’t drop the ball when it comes to family obligation to? It’s, it’s a dance. That’s what it is.

Johanna Buchweitz:
It definitely is. I mean, like, I applaud you. I, I think it’s incredible that you’re a able to do it all and, and the way you kind of manage it and, you know, do that every week is, is incredible. so with Nexus specifically, and you know, you work with different kinds of clients, how do you advise them? What does that process look like?

Reda Hicks:
It depends on what they need. I have, two different buckets of clients really. One is, organizations that are trying to build something new from the ground up. And so that might be somebody starting a new business or a new nonprofit, or it might be an existing organization starting a new program. And so that really does start with a spaghetti-on-the-wall exercise. Like, let’s dream, beg, let’s think really, really big. Like what is, what do you ultimately want this to look like? And then sitting down to reverse engineer. To the most granular first steps and then coming up with a plan, to action those steps for the founders, for the people who work in the organization, whomever those decision-makers might be. and then the other thing is really important for me when when building something new is like benchmarking. So, okay, we’ve done these first 10 things we said we were gonna do. Do we still feel good about this? Is the right trajectory? Is that gonna get us there? Does anything need to change? So, Continuous improvement. Right. Just nudging along the way to make sure you get where you’re going. The other kind of client I work with is organizations that. Aren’t working quite right. You know, I spent nearly a decade working in fundamentally broken organizations that are well past the point of no return, picking up the pieces. and what I’ve learned is actually way more fun working in organizations that they’re only a little off the rails. Like they can, they can sense they could be doing some things better, but it’s not dire. They’re just at a place where like, maybe we should bring in some help. Maybe we. Rethink something that we’re doing.It might be an org chart that just doesn’t work. Like maybe the way that they tried to assemble teams isn’t working quite right for the business model. Or it might be a non-profit that hasn’t looked at its bylaws in a little bit too long and some things have changed and now the bylaws need to change in order to make sure that the organization can keep, you know, performing its mission. and so, A similar exercise in the sense that we kind of diagnose the challenges. Like what’s what, what are the pain points that are keeping you up at night right now? What are the root causes of those and how do we tackle them together? And then again, measuring, are we, we’ve done a few things now. Is that addressing the issue or do we need to think about, maybe there’s a different cause than we thought of, of these issues to get things back on track and running smoothly.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So you mentioned benchmarking for, you know, companies that you work with that are, are you no smaller and really just trying to grow. Mm-hmm. . What are some other, like best practices that you, you can share with all of us today, from just everything that you’ve seen that are kind of really important to, to take into consideration when you’re, you know, early on in your growth?

Reda Hicks:
Yeah, you might laugh, but so many organizations don’t even start thinking about an employee manual until they already have, you know, a dozen employees and they’re like, Oh, shoot, I guess we should have some formalized practice. But actually what you should do, even if you’re a business of one, Is open a document, word document, Google document, whatever, from the very beginning and just start building an outline of what you do with your time every day. Like, here’s how I’m, seeking clients. Here’s how I’m delivering services, here’s how I’m keeping track of invoices. Here’s the email client I’m using. And it doesn’t have to be super detailed. It doesn’t even have to be complete sentences, but as you’re building that, and then just make it a practice. At least once a year, but more often if you’re newer, going back and looking at that and saying, Is this still right? Oh no, I changed email clients. Or, Oh, I actually do invoicing differently now. And as you, as you build that over time, you’ll get to a place where you’re like, Oh shoot, I think I need to hire somebody. I’ve got too much work for me. And that outline is a quick and easy way to help you figure out which pieces you can peel off and hand to someone else. And then make it their responsibility to perform those things, but also to continue updating. And then over time, what you’ll find is, You’ve, you’ve built the manual for running your business just by keeping track of how you have been doing the things that you’re doing. so, so many of us we’re so busy just trying to keep the fires put out. We don’t take the time to do it, but it really, it’s, you know, 10, 10 to 15 minutes in that document on a Friday just to close out your week. Save you so much time and energy later and. Figure out much more quickly, where you’re spending too much time on things in your business so you can try to find efficiencies.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I’m so happy that you brought that up, so thank you for that because one of the things that comes up all the time is like two parts of what you said. So a big part of it is, Like how to hire the right people, how to train them, and how to make sure that you’re able to track their performance and adjust as needed. And, but even just having that manual, that makes it so much easier. I know like when I used to work in a corporate environment if you were leaving the company. The most important thing was that you had those desk notes. This is how you do my job. Whoever is taking over, this is exactly how you do it. Here is every single file you need here is like, you know, all the formulas. Cause I worked in finance, so I was like, you could literally trace the formulas, go into the Excel, you’ll see everything like you do this, this, this, this, the tiniest detail and it made a super smooth transition. And so I love that you said that. Especially, like you said, we wear so many hats, right? We’re doing it all, and at some point, you do need to outsource. So what you suggested is a great way to know when you need to outsource and also how to easily hire for what you need because you already have so much of that copy. Written that you can easily put into like, you know, a, a job posting. You also know then how to interview that person. Some of the questions you need to ask cuz you’re very clear on the job that they will be doing. And once they’re hired, the transition is so much smoother. And while you still will, you know, need to help them along, like they, a lot of it’s there for them to be able to implement themselves, which I think is absolutely fantastic.

Reda Hicks:
It is. And it also, the other really good thing that it does, is level set expectations from the beginning because one, you’ve done all the jobs that you’re handing someone else to do, but two, you have a written document that you can sit down and say, Oh, I see I’ve been expecting you to do this, but it’s actually not here. We didn’t write that down, so I do want you to do that, but we’re gonna add it now and we’re gonna look at it from a go-forward perspective, cuz that that will be something that happens, right? Somebody will say, I don’t understand why so and so isn’t doing X, Y, or Z. But then when you go back and look and realize, Oh, that wasn’t. Actually part of the job description or the flip side, like, I’m expecting you to handle the accounts receivable. See, it’s right here in the outline, but you’re not doing that. Let’s talk about why. Let’s talk about how we could fix it. It’s empowering to both sides to know exactly what’s what the expectations are, which is so important because so much of the challenge that. Comes from building a new team is a misalignment of expectations. and when you can communicate really clearly, here’s what I expect of you, here’s what you can expect from me. It, makes a lot of that confusion and frustration go away.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah. No, I mean a hundred percent. And that’s so true because I, I mean, I think we’ve all kind of either been there one way or the other, saying like, How did you not do that? Wait, wait. I forgot to tell you that that was in my head. I didn’t clearly communicate it, but I expected that of you. Now, you know, like you have actually something that’s written that someone can refer back to at all times, including yourself. Like you’re holding yourself accountable too. And like you said, you can adjust as needed because like as rules expand, as the company grows, things might shift, Those deliverables might shift, but you have something to refer back to. And I think that’s incredibly helpful and super organized way to like track growth and, and to measure.

Reda Hicks:
Yeah, that’s the goal anyway, help everybody, have a little bit of a straighter line to success. Success is not a straight line. We think it is, but it’s not. But if we can straighten the the road just a little bit, that goes a long way over time.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Oh, it definitely does. . So you mentioned you are a proud military spouse, and I know you do a lot of awesome work with, you know, military spouses in the community. What are some of the organizations that you work with and what do you do with them?

Reda Hicks:
So. For a number of years now, I have worked with a national organization called Bunker Labs, and it is a chapter-based organization. It’s in. Over three dozen cities around the country, but it’s a nonprofit that helps military-affiliated entrepreneurs find the resources that, that they need to be able to grow a business. So that’s, you know, veterans, active duty service members, military spouses, military kids, they’re all sort of welcome members of the ecosystem. And what Bunker Labs does is pair sort of this national network. With local resources. So for example, I work in Houston’s chapter and part of my job really has been helping connect Bunker to the local resources that are here so that people who come to us not only have this national network but also know who to be building relationships within the city where they are. I also do, work with Military Family Advisory Network and it’s a national organization and I joke, but it’s not really a joke that we’re the data nerds of the military spouse set because we are the ones that do this biannual deep dive qualitative polling. To take a pulse check on the community and then spit the data back out to our, sort of leaders in government at various levels, but also all of the service-providing nonprofits so that they can have more information about how to tackle key challenges. Those are the, probably the two where I spend most of my time. But, I, I also get calls every now and then to do mentoring and that kind of thing, and I just, I really love it. I think, I don’t know that a. People outside of the military know how very critical it is to the quality of life of military families for spouses to have economic opportunity, whether that’s a job or the ability to grow a business. because it, when they don’t have that, we’re asking these military families to be single-income households, and that’s just not an economic reality that is viable for a lot of families in the country. So any opportunity that I get to help with that economic empowerment piece of the military puzzle, I’m, I’m Johnny on the spot.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Well, thank you, first of all for the work that you do, and, and for just kind of sharing that with all of us cuz, you know, anyone who’s not familiar, like you said like it is important I think for all of us to know because it also allows us to take action if if it’s feels like something that resonates with us. Like there’s so many different organizations that we can also partner with and we can also work with, which is obviously like, and you could work that comes, you know, that way it is amazing. So with Bunker Labs specifically, I know you said like community resources, are you also like pairing them with like venture capital and, you know, or investment opportunities like within the community so that they can get funding?

Reda Hicks:
That’s part of the puzzle, certainly, fiscal resources. So, we, we will make sure that the people, you know, Houston’s my community. By way of example, we’ll make sure that people who are going through the program here are aware of local pitch competitions, local, ecosystem opportunities. That include funding. in fact, actually there’s one, the Houston Community College system runs a small business plan competition every year. That includes a lot of non-monetary resources, but the opportunity to pitch for money at the end. And there’s a long-standing relationship with the Bunker Labs in Houston. We’ve had, we have a number of alumni of both programs. and then same with our national network. We try to make sure that people have the opportunities to have awareness of pitch competitions and that kind of thing. But we also spend a lot of time making sure people understand all the different kinds of funding available. So for instance, here we are, close partners with the small business association and we invite them to come and talk to our cohorts about, the different loan opportunities that are available, VA loans, but, but also just the small business loans that are available through organizations like LiftFund for example, there are so many that are available out there that you wouldn’t even necessarily know about, without an outside resource to really tell you. Certainly, I mean, consider myself a pretty educated person, but I had no idea about the funding landscape until I became, you know, startup owner and suddenly had to figure it out, so we tried to make sure that that whole, it, the sort of the loan side, but also the venture side is, is our role is really education, and then we connect them to partners who you know are in venture capital or are in banking to sort of carry the ball from there and help founders decide what’s best for their, particular business.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So for anyone who’s listening who is interested in different forms of funding, what are some of those? be because I obviously, you know, you said you’ve become very familiar with all the different avenues, and we would love to hear from you.

Reda Hicks:
Whew. Okay. Well, so I’m not an expert in this. But here’s what I learned so far. Just, 30,000-foot view. I think about it, I think of a lot of things in buckets. I think about, the sort of funding ecosystem in terms of buckets also. So you have, we’ll call it the debt bucket, and that is all different kinds of loans. That’s everything from. you know, small, small business loan all the way up to really large revolving lines of credit for a business that has sort of circular business. Those loans come through traditional banks, credit unions, organizations like LiftFund, and the Small Business Association. SBA provides very specific kinds of funding through those financial institutions, that small businesses in particular have access to. So that’s the debt bucket. And then you have what we’ll call the equity bucket, and that’s you know, you mentioned venture to capital. That’s a situation where someone is giving you funding in exchange for an ownership interest in your company. And there are different phases all the way up from like. Friends and family and seed funding up to, you know, venture funding all the way up to an IPO, right? So, and that’s money, that it’s not, it’s not debt, it’s equity, but they’re, you know, that bucket is typically for a really fast growing kind of business because when somebody invests. Send your company for an ownership interest. What they want is for you to make their money back really fast. And so that’s a typically a different kind of business than a, than a business that would typically get something more like traditional loan are, like for example, a brick and mortar. A bakery will take out a loan to be able to build out and open their doors and start making money and start paying back that loan. So just different. And then the third bucket is, what I’ll call sort of non-equity resources. And that’s. That’s, you know, winnings from a pinch competition. That’s, any other kind of funding that you get from a source where someone doesn’t expect to be paid back, which is the best kind of money when you don’t have to worry about paying back. You can just put it into your business and keep on running as fast as you can. . I guess actually the fourth bucket is revenue, which just be honest, it’s the best kind of money to go into your business because it’s coming from customers that have been happy with whatever you’ve sold them and they’re coming back again, and revenue is the best kind of money to put into your business, but for people who aren’t quite there yet or need these additional resources to be able to achieve particular business, Miles stones, those are kind of the three buckets.

Johanna Buchweitz:
With the companies that you’ve worked with, is there a particular method of funding that they prefer or one that’s the most popular?

Reda Hicks:
No, I would say it really depends on the business. A mom and Pop is going to look at funding their business fundamentally differently than somebody who’s trying to build the next, you know, Uber, they’re just, they’re different animals. a mom-and-pop opens their doors and can expect to start generating revenue right away so they can afford to take out a loan that has repayment terms that start pretty soon an org, a company like Uber, I mean, just think about how many years they operated before they generated any revenue at all. And you have to have investors that are willing to put money in and just see the vision and be willing to let it ride for a little while. So it really does kind of depend on, and a company like Uber couldn’t have taken out a traditional loan, to begin with, because they have no collateral. They’re not making any money, so they definitely couldn’t make loan payments. So whenever you’re thinking. , I need more resources for my business. What’s the best kind? you have to think about what your particular business model is, what your ability to pay back a loan is versus what your willingness to let people have a portion of your business is, and if you aren’t sure. I recommend re reaching out, to the SBA to ask questions. in fact, the s the Small Business Association has a program called Small Business Development Council, S B D C, and they’re everywhere. There’s probably one near you wherever you’re listening. And the s b SBDC provide mentors through a program called score and they are typically retired executives that give away their time to businesses that are trying to grow to provide advice. And so if you are thinking, I think I might need outside resources, I need someone to talk to and there’s not somebody in your immediate ecosystem with the knowledge that you need, I recommend reaching out to the SBDC and asking for a score mentor that can help you think through fundraising. cuz it doesn’t cost. for you, the user, the small business association is paying that mentor for their time, and they have, are bringing decades of brilliance to your, to your challenges. So for fundraising, but also for like, you name it, anything that you might need, they could be a resource.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That’s great advice, thank you. And for anyone who’s listening who is interested more so in pursuing potentially a venture capital type fundraising, I think the important thing there like to, to add on to what you said Reda is a lot of those, you know, firms, they require certain metrics like you mentioned the hyper-growth. There are certain points that are really like important. There are certain key performance indicators that they’re looking at and it’s crucial before you even create a pitch deck or even go out trying to, you know, get an introduction to someone to know what actually matters to them. And that will specifically be based on what kind of company you are growing. So for the Uber example, and, and a lot of companies similar to Uber, things that are really important are not so much like revenue, Definitely not profit. Like, because that took forever, you know, for them to become profitable. but the most important thing is like, what are their, what’s their user growth? Right. How, you know, how is that growing every single month? What does that look like? How often are, are, you know, the using the platform for Facebook, a big important thing was like, how, how much time is someone actually spending in Facebook? Like not only what their user growth is, but what is the time in-app like, because that shows a lot of potential for profit later on, and those are the things that are a bit more important to a lot of different investors. So definitely do your research on that before trying to set up any type of meeting.

Reda Hicks:
One other very important piece of advice. That I, it took a while for me to learn, if I’m just being totally honest, is, you know, I mentioned at the beginning when it comes to professionals that you should be picky and you should shop around. That’s true for money too. When you’re growing and you’re feeling resource constrained, it can be tempting to just take whatever money is offered to you but whether it’s a banker giving you a loan or investors giving you, you know, money for equity, that’s a long term relationship and it has to be. And it’s somebody that’s gonna be giving you input in your business and asking you questions and expecting to, you know, be kept in the loop and informed and they’re gonna have opinions and so it’s really important to make sure you feel comfortable with whoever that. Financial partner is for you that they see your vision and that they’re gonna be supportive of you, and they’re going to, if, particularly if you’re an impact-driven business, they’re going to, you know, follow you with your values and not push you to try to go in a different direction based on what they think your metrics should be so even, you know, it’s really, really important to go with your Got and if you are not so sure about a potential investment opportunity. Even though it’s hard, you know, think twice about taking that money.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah. That, that’s something I literally say all the time and, and even just talked about that, their day because I think a lot of people going into that relationship, they feel like they’re like the smaller person. They think like, Oh, thank you so much. Like, you know, whoever you are for, for giving me this money to help me grow my business. Like I, you know, literally indebted to you like, you know, whatever it is like that’s it. But really it is what you said. It’s a partnership. It is two sides, and it is important to say no if it doesn’t feel like a right fit because especially so many of like our incredible community here are mission-driven, amazing entrepreneurs, and you need someone to be aligned with that mission and vision and it’s very important to also clearly communicate what you will not compromise on. And to also understand what type of communication, how that, you know, investor wants to communicate with you, the frequency, what that looks like, and kind of set a lot of parameters early on in the relationship before you even take the money, before you even come to an agreement so that you guys are on the same page because it is a long term relationship and you are both equal because you are both bringing something awesome to the table.

Reda Hicks:
Quite so.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yes. So what gets you excited every single day? Like what, you know, helps you wake up in the morning and says, Oh my gosh, I can’t wait for today. This is gonna be awesome.

Reda Hicks:
Well, these days my work for the longest time work was just, you know, work that I did, did every day, and maybe it was intellectually interesting, but didn’t, didn’t get me outta bed. But now, like I, I genuinely love. Helping solve problems that make businesses be able to go further faster. I, I love that. also, you know, the place my kids are right now, I love where they’re at some days are a little bit challenging. I’ve got an almost 13-year-old and Ooh, that’s different. but I, I love where they’re at, and what I love most is, we’re at a place where my kids are big enough that we can actually go and do things in the community as a family. We can volunteer together, we can, you know, do. Things. my husband and I were both very sort of mission-driven people, and the ability to kind of show our kids what it looks like to be good citizens of their community is really great. and especially because, You know what? They just learn so much all the time. We’re in an incredibly diverse city. There’s so much to learn, do and see. And that gets me excited too, just getting to show them all the things that are possible in the world.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that. That’s a beautiful answer. So for you now, like after like everything that so far you’ve accomplished, which is like so much like congratulations first of all, like I love it. It’s, it’s really like remarkable, like your entire journey and everything you’re doing and continuing to do, but as of this exact moment, what does success mean to you?

Reda Hicks:
It’s such a good question cuz if you had asked me 10 years ago, you would’ve gotten a fundamentally different answer type A high achiever, and my answer would’ve been very driven by Title and sort of hierarchy in an organization, but anymore, I think success feels like knowing you’re in the right place, doing the right things. Yeah. When I wake up in the morning and I know. Yeah, What I’m working on, this is exactly what I should be working on. I’m, I’m exactly where I should be at this moment in time. That, that feels like success to me.

Johanna Buchweitz:
And to anyone who’s listening and not watching. Like, I, I love this cuz like your reaction while you were saying that you just got this, like, this like real nice sense of piece, like as, as you were speaking those words, which is so fun to see. because like it’s, it’s true. Like, you know, like when that, like for you, that’s your definition of success and like you truly like feel it as you’re saying it, you feel that piece, you feel that happiness, you feel that success all in one. And I think that’s, that’s pretty cool to say. So thank you for sharing that.

Reda Hicks:
Sure. Well, and so I, I host a unofficial female founder Brown bag in Houston once a month. And I can’t recall how this conversation came up of last month’s lunch, but it had to do with how it can be hard sometimes to, you know, cheer your sisters around you on. When you’re not feeling great about where you are or where you’re, when you’re feeling like, Oh man, I guess I should be further along than I am. Or like, you know, comparison is a horrible enemy to creativity. But I think when you center in, am I where I should be right now? Then it matters a whole lot less where anyone else is and I have, I have found it that as an exercise, sort of centering on MI where IPO am supposed to be, and it doesn’t only give me gratitude for where I’m at and make me feel like I’m in the right place, but it puts me in a better place to be really happy for my friends who are achieving too. It’s not really a competition anymore. We’re all doing. Awesome. And that’s great.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love. Yeah. No, that, that, that’s, that’s true. And it’s a really good way to like, think about things. And a really good question to ask yourself to, to kind of get into that mindset. So anyone who wants more of you, where can they find you?

Reda Hicks:
Good question. So I’m easy to find, my name is spelled weird, and so there’s only one R E D A Hicks. As far as I know, anywhere on the internet. But if you are interested in learning more about Gots Spot, you can find me at gotsspotinc.com. If you’re interested in learning more about Nexus, you can find me at nexus-insights.com and my social handles are all match my website. So easy to find there. Or if you just wanna see me as a person, big bunch of pictures of my kids. I’m at @Hicks426 on all of my various social platform.

Johanna Buchweitz:
How can we as a community support you?

Reda Hicks:
Well, two things really. So for God’s spot, I really am always looking for more brick-and-mortar businesses, interested in seeing if I can help them generate more revenue off of their space. And the more businesses I have listed, the more time users spend scrolling the website, the more bookings everyone gets. So it is a little bit of a flywheel if you have space, even if you’ve never even thought about using it before. Let’s have a conversation. And imagine what might be possible. And if it works for you, that’s wonderful. I can help you get a list and going. And if not, at least you’ve had a conversation and you know, Okay, I know what does and doesn’t work for me. And then for Nexus, I mean, I’m always. Always excited to help an organization that needs a little bit of, of help figuring out a leadership plan or an operations plan, or if you wanna build something new and you’re not sure where to start. those are the kinds of challenges that I love to solve for. So if you know somebody who’s figuring, trying to figure those kinds of puzzles out, send them my way.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Awesome. Well, anyone who’s listening, if that sounds like you, like now, you know, you know how to get in touch with Reda, but you can always email us, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to make an introduction. So, Reda, before you leave today, I know you’ve given us a lot to work with, so much like incredible, incredible bits of wisdom that all of us can really apply. So thank you for that. But last, last bit, could you leave us with some words of wisdom that could fit on a tweet?

Reda Hicks:
My favorite wisdom to share is this have strong opinions that are loosely held, which means know yourself very well, but be willing to consider. It might be time to change. Be willing to consider if new information tells you, you might need to go a different direction. Strong opinions loosely held.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I like that. Thank you so much for coming on today.

Reda Hicks:
Thank you so much for having me. It has been such a joy, Johanna. I love it.

Johanna Buchweitz:
We hope you enjoyed hearing from the incredible Reda Hicks, and if you did, please leave us a review on Apple, Spotify, wherever you tune in to Listen. Please share this episode with anyone who you think might enjoy it. Thank you so much for tuning in to this week’s episode of Limitless. See you next week for a new episode.

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