Kathryn Bruner is originally from the Mt Shasta region of Northern California. The Military brought her to North Carolina in 2010, and she has called this state her home ever since. After retiring from conducting Search and Rescue for the United States Coast Guard, Kathryn started a career path in Real Estate. Now owning her own firm, KBR- Kathryn Bruner Realty LLC.
Kathryn has been actively involved with many nonprofit organizations over the years. Working on the board of the Cape Fear Equine Rescue, she loved assisting in the rehabilitation of horses and raising community awareness. Volunteering as an Ambassador for Port City Young Professionals, she worked directly with members to further their leadership, business, and personal growth.
Outside of her civilian non-profit involvement, Kathryn works with several Military Organizations. Hosting and speaking for events such as the Coast Guard Women’s Leadership Symposium, Whole Vets, Milspo Project, The Military Influencer Conference, and Bunker Labs.
Through her connections in the Military and Entrepreneur circles she has helped Veterans and their families find work, housing, and a supportive community while transitioning to civilian life.
Kathryn has been recognized by The Greater Wilmington Business Journal as a Wilmington Business Top 100, StarNews/Wilmington Chamber of Commerce 40 under 40 recipient, and WILMA Magazine as a Women to Watch.
In addition to Kathryn’s volunteerism and Real Estate profession, she and her husband Zach are Real Estate Investors. Together they have proudly repaired/flipped multiple foreclosed & distressed homes across North Carolina.
Where did the idea for Kathryn Bruner Realty come from?
Turning 30 the same weekend the world shut down for COVID, was a wake-up call. A few years prior I was Medically Retired from conducting Search and Rescue in the Military. Just when it felt like I got my feet under me, the rug got pulled out. Finding a source of income that could reach people on their couch without leaving your couch felt impossible. Until I started my own Virtual Real Estate Firm. I bet the whole pot on myself, and decided that success was the only option.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Rule #1 Run your day, don’t let it run you!
The best way to do that, for me, is to control distractions. I say “control” not avoid, because avoiding can be a distraction in itself. My morning routine is key to my production level. I typically shut my phone off at night and leave it off till 830am. Having a cup of coffee in silence, reading 10 pages of a motivational book, getting 20 mins of exercise in, starting my To Do list, and then opening my phone or laptop, makes a world of difference. [Also just implemented a new rule of no social media M-F, we will see how that goes. I am sure it will significantly improve productivity.]
How do you bring ideas to life?
Depends on the day. Ideas come to me right before bed, so I keep a journal on my nightstand. When I’m in the shower, so I keep a notes section in my phone. I bring them to life through bite size actions. Especially when a goal feels impossible, writing it down is step 1 to actualization.
What’s one trend that excites you?
#SelfLove seeing more people supporting one another and learning to support themselves and their inner selves has been a beautiful upward trend (especially after the year we had in 2020).
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Saying “No”. “No” was my first word as a child, and to this day, even when I am saying yes, I will start a sentence with “No” (just ask my husband). This trait that teachers, bosses, and others have fought for years to get me to curb, is honestly part of the foundation that helps me stand on my own two feet as an entrepreneur. Knowing when to turn down a client, an event invitation, or a professional/personal relationship that does not benefit my goals. “No” keeps me sane, solid, and successful.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Drink more water! More importantly, think kind thoughts to yourself. Your internal voice affects a lot of your external actions. Be kind, inside and out.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
This is a hard one. Only thing I can think of is that I find my high heels comfortable.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Staying truly connected! To not only the present moment, but yourself and those around you! Reminding yourself over and over that your actions affect others. Empathy, Communication, and Passion, are the leadership traits that have guided my actions for years. As a leader in the Military, and now in the civilian workforce of Real Estate, I have had the unique opportunity to support others through life altering hardships. Whether the experience was needing to stay calm and effectively communicate during a Search and Rescue case, or to stay present and understanding during an emotional Real Estate transaction. My passion for serving the greater good has been my guidon, and staying present and connected helps me achieve that goal.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Helping others by listening, and connecting with their needs has led to multiple successful chapters of my life. Recreating that success for others is the business model I’ve created for KBR. Resulting in keeping the revenue high for not only my Firm, but more importantly our clients. Business is about relationships, and no matter how virtual our world becomes at KBR we plan to stay as authentic and tangible as possible.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have failed many many times. Failed to land a client, failed at a trial idea, failed speaking at events on stage behind a microphone (those really hit you). I overcame each one by getting up and trying again. Just because one potential client said “No” does not mean they all will. Just because one idea failed, does not mean they all will. You get the idea.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
My metrics for assessing a Flip/Residential Real Estate Investment Purchase:
1) Property should be the most dilapidated house in a reputable/nice neighborhood.
2) No major damage: Foundation issues. Dry Well. Destroyed Septic/Sewer system. Etc… its out. (Because issues like that have a ripple effect and you cannot predict the overall upfit cost of purchase.)
3) Previously sold for a minimum of 40% over purchase price, or multiple street exact comparable sales for 40%.
4) Needs less than 10% of purchase price to Reno (now this calculation works from my investments because we only buy materials and renovate each project ourselves, no contractor cost. You will have to determine your best ROI percentages).
5) Must qualify for a Conventional Loan (leveraging other people’s money at a low interest rate saves cash for unforeseen events).
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Yesterday, my neighbor had her soft opening for her own clothing boutique and I went shopping! Supporting Female Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses, plus cute new clothes = Win, Win, Win!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I am old school, honestly. The notes tab in my phone is a life saver. I make “to do” lists, reminders, grocery lists. That and my calendar, its my modern day day planner.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Relentless by Tim Grover
Anyone willing to count on themselves 100%, No boss, No Back Up. Win or lose its on you…… is a different breed of human. We hear “slow down”, “stay in your lane”, “you’re in over your head”, etc for those around us. This book affirms a lot of things you already know inside, you just needed to hear it.
What is your favorite quote?
Maya Angelou – “They may forget what you said – but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
- Control distractions
- Be Kind
- Say “No”
- Be Present
- Support other female entrepreneurs
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.