Jonathon Papsin resides in Westchester County, N.Y. He began his career after college in the private asset management industry, but after two years he knew he wanted to pursue his entrepreneurial creative side and has been daylighting as a full-time real estate agent in Manhattan and moonlighting as the founder and CEO of Tag Sell It Inc., which he founded together with Matthew Dorman in 2008.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I’ve been working on the business development side of the service that Tagsellit.com provides, specifically, setting up three nationwide databases for professional merchants and vendors who can easily benefit from our services.
Our directories on the site include a Flea Market Directory, Consignment Shop Directory and a Professional Estate Sale Services Directory. It’s been amazing how many people have reached out to us and have wanted to have their services or events included in our permanent directory, and we launched this new element in Spring 2010.
Also, working diligently with my business partner to help develop new mobile technology for the garage sale industry for smart phones. Here’s a link to what we currently have available for users: http://www.tagsellit.com/about/mobile-garage-sale-applications
3 Trends that excite you?
I’m really inspired by all the entrepreneurs who are coming up with great ideas each day. It really takes a creative person both mentally and with a motivational drive to make something happen, and it’s really cool to see these ideas take shape in such a short amount of time.
I also admire the large Fortune 500 companies who are intrigued by the thousands of small start-up companies and their efforts to reach out and offer to join forces. There’s a lot the big guys can learn from the little guys, and when businesses decide to merge, it’s fun to put the pieces together and be a part of an even greater success story.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I read a lot of inspirational books and books which focus on encouragement. I also think I get my best ideas in the shower, and I never go to bed without having a notepad and pen near my pillow. You never know when you’ll wake up with the next big idea.
Also, a lot of my friends haven’t been as supportive of my entrepreneurial endeavor as I expected, but I think that has something to do with their own motivations in life, and perhaps they weren’t willing to see anyone take such great risks. I feel that with great risks come great rewards, and every time I hear “it can’t be done,” or “good luck getting that to work,” it fuels my entrepreneurial passion to succeed even more.
What is one mistake you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
There are really two mistakes that stand out that I think about when looking back to our boot-strapping days.
First, when we first started the company, we had a three-person team, but within the first year, we ended up buying out our third business partner as he left to pursue other interests. My plan was to assume his responsibilities, but I overestimated my abilities to take on certain tasks. Fortunately, everything is running smoothly now with some smart decision making and a small but worthwhile investment.
Second, early on we decided to hire a local PR firm to help us enhance our visibility. Unfortunately they over-promised and under-delivered. While we did get some interesting media mentions, it was a six-month communications disaster working with them as they essentially refused to listen to everything we really wanted them to do, even though they were being paid up front for it. We learned the hard way, as the saying goes, “In PR you pray. In advertising you pay.”
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
I wouldn’t say there is one book for me. There are a lot of great books I’ve read, but one of the greatest authors, I feel, is Harvey Makay. He’s written numerous books, and I’m currently halfway though the last one. Not only does he provide great business sense and inspiration, but his life experience and stories are fabulous learning opportunities for all entrepreneurs.
As for one tool, I would find it painful to live without my Mac computer.
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Think of your business idea. Understand it’s niche, and then try to become even more niche-focused.
As an entrepreneur, you feel that you have to focus on every facet of your business, from finance to marketing, how do you recommend not being overwhelmed by this?
Accounting wasn’t my favorite subject in college, so naturally, I wasn’t interested in the bookkeeping maintenance of running the business. To my advantage, I’ve kept things organized and simple for myself and made it a mission to learn more about accounting. So, when I visit my certified public accountant, I understand nearly everything, and if I don’t get it, I’m not afraid to ask them to explain something five times as long as I understand it finally.
Your day job as a realtor has to be challenging, working solely on commission. How do you do that?
I’ve always had a passion for real estate, but I didn’t know where to begin. I also had a passion for working in the big city, Manhattan. When I felt the time was right for me to leave my 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. job in the suburbs to pursue a career in residential real estate in Manhattan, I made the leap. The first three months were brutal, but after many long-hour days and working weekends, one day it was like someone flipped the lights on and my business was off and running as a real estate agent. I’ve been doing this full-time for five years and have worked with some amazing clients and now have a tremendous referral base. There’s also something about the NYC living experience that makes this job magical for me.
Along the way I’ve had some wonderful mentors who not only inspired me, but helped me achieve the tools and knowledge that I’ve needed to go head-to-head with almost every major business challenge I’ve faced so far. I believe that if anyone is to succeed in life, they must have at least one mentor.
(I’ve been the main contributor to our site’s blog since inception, and we’re always looking for guest bloggers and interesting new content and perspectives.)
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.