Episode 23: The Dangers of Building a Business in Public

In this episode of the Nick Huber Show, I go over what I wished I knew before going into the world of social media. This is something vital for any entrepreneur to consider when working towards a more public face. Frankly some of these warnings are the reason many who are starting a business shy away from getting involved in social media, but I will share what I have learned to keep you and your investments safe.

When real estate investors choose to build their business in the public light, there are pros and cons to each side. Some of the pros for me have been building my brand and helping me to grow; not to mention it has introduced me to many investors. When it comes to the cons, it definitely has its own set of hurdles and risks (outside of the risks in real estate that I’m always talking about).

In my opinion, there is a group of people out in the world, on the internet, that hate people like me. Period. It seems that these individuals tend to be those that hate capitalistic ideals, hate entrepreneurs, hate landlords, and they say whatever they can to tear these people down. They jump into your DMs and they try to chew you out with hate speech. They stir up topics that excite controversy and support their agendas disregarding any collateral damage.

To paint this ugly picture of what kind of hate is out there, let me tell you about my friend. This buddy of mine and his wife are both real estate investors and have a fairly strong following on social media. They own multiple properties from rental properties, to duplexes, to Airbnb. Like many investors out there, they manage these properties themselves and even personally handle most of the requests when it comes to their tenants. 

One day, there was something that spread around the internet and popped up in their feed:

A screenshot of two of Nick's real estate partners on Twitter

This individual brought up a singular issue from one of their properties and essentially set up a witch hunt for my friend and his wife by exposing their public profiles. As if exposure wasn’t enough, many of those who engaged in this post, combed through and cherry picked their entry profiles for whatever they could find to paint them in the worst light possible. This post quickly snowballed and the retweets escalated, digging deeper into my friends personal lives and their investments.  Every investment of theirs was picked apart so that even the smallest problems were magnified and exposed to the public. This completely stabbed at everything they owned and hurt all they had worked for.

Now, I don’t bring this up to scare you away from social media or persuade you from having a public brand. I share this story to shed light on the potential pitfalls that can come because of that but more importantly to help you avoid making the same mistakes

How to combat this?  

First, Don’t engage with hateful people at all. My friend and his wife made this mistake and all that did was stir up more contention in the comment section and unintentionally triggered the algorithm; the engagement rate for that post went up and more people saw the original post. My best practice is to immediately block the individual. 3 hours later I will unblock that post to see each person that liked the post or retweeted the post. I block all of them as well. This hinders them from having access to deep dive into all my posts and manipulate my words against me.  Don’t interact with these people, all they want to do is harm you and your business.

Second, when posting anything on the subject of rent, never explicitly say that you are raising rent, in fact don’t even use the word rent. Despite rent simply being a part of this business and raising that rent to market value is a necessary business practice, everyone hates when rent is raised and this is just asking for people to publicly hate on you. Instead use words such as “drive revenue”, “increase returns”, etc. to express your point. This will save you from touching that pressure point.

Third, do not publicly use your name in relation to your investments or specific properties and restrain from linking your brand online with these as well. I would even go as far to avoid having tenants know your name. In my business, I do whatever it takes to delegate so I don’t directly deal with tenants. I prefer to keep separation there to have some sense of anonymity and safety.

Although it may sound like something from out of left field, the fourth piece of advice is to avoid posting about the personal things you buy because you have money. Bluntly said, don’t post about buying nice shit that the average person can’t afford. The last thing most people want is the rich rubbing their wealth in their face. You’ve worked hard to build that sweaty start up and you’ve pushed through that messy middle; you deserve to enjoy the benefits of that hard work and profit, but I recommend you keep that private; this keeps you safe from all the Eat-The-Rich people hunting you down.

Fifth, be vague about your specific location and anything that could pinpoint you to where you are or where your investments are. You can talk about your deals, talk about your numbers, talk about what you are doing with your properties…just do it without using location specific information. This keeps people from tracking down you or your properties and also minimizes location specific posts making its way into your tenants feed.

Lastly, in close relation to the previous point, be sure that any post you make online would not be detrimental if it came across a tax assessor, potential customer, an investor, etc. This is my rule of thumb. I ask myself, “ If a potential tenant read this post, would they be okay with it?” If the content being put out there would be upsetting to a particular crowd, perhaps I should think twice before posting it. 

In the end, be careful.  Being in the public light while having your own set of investments comes with pros and cons.  There are ways to do it and minimize the risk of negative backlash, but it takes effort and attentiveness.  Be mindful of these, and weigh things out in your mind to determine if that is the right direction for you. 

There is so much more to learn about Real Estate and Business. For more in depth information, see Nick’s online real estate courses.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. Real estate investors choose to build their business in the public light, there are pros and cons to each side, the key is minimizing the risk that publicity will harm your investments.
  2. When posting anything on the subject of rent, never explicitly say that you are raising rent, in fact don’t even use the word rent
  3. Be sure that any post you make online would not be detrimental if it came across a tax assessor, potential customer, an investor, etc.

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.