Rivers Realty, a family-owned full-service real estate brokerage company, has been a part of Detroit’s small business community for over 40 years. Founder Ron Rivers started his company after seeing a need in the black community for property managers and experts in the real estate industry. Ron’s daughter, Lauren Rivers, joined the business in 2014 as their managing broker. Today, Rivers Realty serves clients throughout Metro Detroit and has become a model for family business in the city.
The company has received one-on-one customized business coaching through TechTown’s SWOT City program for neighborhood small businesses. TechTown connected the company to Wayne State University’s Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Small Businesses program and the Motor City Re-Store program, which awarded Rivers Realty a grant to redesign their office space, located on Detroit’s west side. Listen to Ron and Lauren speak about their experience as entrepreneurs, and how they balance it all.
Explain the role your business plays in Detroit’s entrepreneurship community?
Lauren: As a minority-owned business, I think it’s important that Detroit residents can look to the perseverance of our company and be encouraged. It’s good to feel that we’re an inspiration to anyone who’s challenged and has obstacles.
What is the importance of running a family-owned business?
Ron: I think the importance of having a family-owned business is that you establish a family legacy as well as a community legacy. Due to those that came before us, we’ve been able to expand our business and now we can offer those same things to our children and grandchildren.
Lauren: I think it’s a really wonderful opportunity to have something to pass down to others. I think a family business is a vehicle for creating opportunities. It sparks the same enthusiasm in others. If we can do it, so can they.
What is the biggest challenge of being an entrepreneur?
Lauren: One of the biggest challenges is finding work-life balance. I also think at the end of the day, you’re responsible for what you put in and get out of it. There’s risk but there’s always reward.
Ron: The challenges in establishing your own business center [is] around the fact that you have to answer for the business. You have to be the accountant, the attorney and the janitor. Our biggest challenge is to be able to wear several hats and wear them in a competent manner. At the end of the day, those responsibilities lie on someone’s shoulders and as an entrepreneur that person is generally yourself.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business owner?
Ron: If I had to go back and do it all over, I would say my one piece of advice would be to find a good mentor. It’s hard when you have to go out and create your own path. When you have to create your own path, you spend so much time cutting down the weeds that you don’t have time implement your business.
Lauren: Keep your skill set fresh as your industry changes. Also, get familiar with your financials. Start learning and taking classes to get a better understanding of how your metrics impact your business. The most important thing I would say is to don’t quit. Often as entrepreneurs, you hit roadblocks. Just remember to do whatever it takes to get through those roadblocks. Don’t let any obstacle stop you from our goal and from your dreams.
To learn more about River’s Realty, visit riversrealtygroup.com.
Visit techtowndetroit.org/swotcity to learn more about our SWOT City program.