Kim Hibbs | Crain's St. Louis

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Kim Hibbs

Background:  

Hibbs Homes is a St. Louis-based builder that specializes in new, custom and green homes, building to meet Department of Energy Builders Challenge, Energy Star and National Green Building standards. Before moving into the home-building industry full time, Kim Hibbs was a reporter and anchor for KSDK in St. Louis.

The Mistake:

I found myself, especially as I got into my 40s, trying to really force a career change.

I didn't know whether it was a good idea and I didn't know what I was going to go into. So I got very frustrated because I never had a clear understanding or idea of what I wanted to do.

You can waste a lot of time and effort and energy trying to pursue everything from franchising to other possible business opportunities out there. My wife Jan and I would literally spend hours and hours and days just pressing and discussing. I know you always have to do your due diligence, but it just seemed like there was a whole lot of energy wasted instead of just taking a step back and looking at things a little bit more logically, being more at peace with what we were trying to do and letting things unfold. It just seems like it took us a lot longer to get to the decision of what we were going to do because we were trying to force things too much.

If my wife and I had not made this journey, there would have been many times over the past few years when we would have said, 'I wish' or 'What if?'

The Lesson:

In 2002, when I was still in television in the St. Louis area, my wife and I were looking for a career for her because we had a couple of small kids and we didn't want her to work full time. So she got her real estate license with the sole purpose of buying, fixing and selling homes. That's what kind of got us into the construction industry.

But, after a couple of years, it was clear to us that fixing and flipping was really not what we enjoy doing. We didn't find enough satisfaction in it. That's what led into building spec homes in 2004. Once we started building spec homes, we absolutely loved that. By 2006, we started having clients come to us saying, “We like your spec homes. Would you be interested in building us a custom home?” So, since 2006, virtually our entire business model is around building custom homes.

When I really took a step back, relaxed and let things unfold, I really realized you just have to trust. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and you just have to trust that it will all work out. So we kind of let things unfold naturally from fixing and flipping to spec homes and, now, to custom building.

But I think my first piece of advice is you have to take the chance. You never want to look back and say, “What if?” And, quite frankly, if my wife and I had not made this journey, there would have been many times over the past few years when we would have said, “I wish” or "What if?” Don't let fear make the decision for you. You really have to have confidence to move forward because fear will really hold a lot of people back from doing anything.

I know you read a lot of books and hear a lot of people say it's a lot of hard work. It’s true, and there are probably going to be times you are going to regret a decision. But, if you firmly believe in what you're doing and work hard, it all seems to work out. Right now, with where we are and where the company is, we could not be more pleased and proud of what we have been able to accomplish over the last 14 years of building new homes.

Kim Hibbs and Hibbs Homes are on Twitter at @HibbsHomes.

Photo courtesy of Hibbs Homes.

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