By Mikala McCurry
Jeremy Kelly, a prominent real estate agent in the River Region, shares his experience with owning his own business: Kelly Realty.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF. I was born and raised in Montgomery. My father was a prominent business man in Montgomery and my mother is from Mississippi. I have Bachelor’s degree in Business & Mass Communications from Auburn University Montgomery.
WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN REAL ESTATE? When I began college, I felt as though I finally found a place where I belonged. I love knowledge and learning and I was on a career path to become a professor, lawyer or doctor, essentially a perpetual student. Approaching graduation, my father advised that I work towards being an entrepreneur instead of accumulating even more loan debt. He suggested a career in real estate, noting the potential for huge return on investment. From his perspective, anyone can return to school at any time when you are independently wealthy. I took his sage advice and worked as an agent with Aronov Realty for several years before I became a broker and established my own independently operated agency, Kelly Realty.
WHAT ARE SOME KEY COMPONENTS OF BUILDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS? Building your own business requires an incredible amount of discipline and resilience. These two components are integral because you’ll need them to brave the storms of adversity, failure and doubt. Once you’re able to quiet the voices of doubt that reside within your heart and rise above the initial bouts of defeat, you’ll be equipped to succeed. Lastly, having a mentor is essential component of building your own business-someone who has been where you’re trying to go & can hopefully help you avoid wrong turns.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF WORKING FOR YOURSELF? DISADVANTAGES? The major advantage of working for yourself is the autonomy and financial freedom it provides you. You get a great source of fulfillment knowing that you are not just being used as a corporate pawn, instead you are providing a service to your community, creating employment opportunities all while establishing a legacy for your decedents.
The main disadvantage of working for yourself is that all of the responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders. Owning a small business takes a tremendous amount of fortitude to stay afloat, more over to be successful. Essentially, the ‘buck’ really stops with you and the success or failure of your business lies solely in your hands; that pressure is in some ways a driving force, but it can feel overwhelming at times.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUTH THAT DESIRE TO FOLLOW THIS CAREER PATH? Some quotes stay with you, like “if you gone do it, do it! If you want it, pursue it!” Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, but the rewards are unparalleled. Study your craft intensely; let it become your obsession. Afterwards, take that knowledge and boldly apply it. Failure is just par for the course, so don’t let it discourage you. Keep kicking the door until it falls. [metaphorically, of-course ☺]
HOW CAN YOU USE YOUR PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCE TO IMPACT THE COMMUNITY? Eventually, I’d like to teach a course on financial empowerment to struggling single mothers and give each of them a home upon completion. In addition, I’d like to go to youth camps and speak to troubled youth.
My father has been in prison since I was in Junior High and I’ve been on my own since sixteen, and I am technically a high school dropout, yet I never let those obstacles define my fate. I am also a college graduate and the youngest real estate broker/owner in Montgomery. I think that my story could give hope to struggling youth & inspire them to look beyond their current circumstances.
WHAT WOULD MAKE MONTGOMERY, AL MORE ATTRACTIVE TO FUTURE YOUNG PROFESSIONALS? Cities like Raleigh, Nashville, and Austin are popular among today’s young professionals and I don’t see any reason why Montgomery couldn’t make the list in the near future. Walkability- having restaurants and nightlife within walking distance of your domicile is often cited as an attractive feature and I believe Montgomery is headed in right direction with the Dexter Street revitalization and the continued residential development downtown and a more concerted effort towards creating a safe, vibrant nightlife for young professionals.
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