Tiny Home Inspiration & Interview with Builder Rhett Jacobi
Ever stayed in a tiny home? Or thought of building one? Small, creatively designed living spaces—retrofitted vans, treehouses, sailboats and tiny homes in all shapes in sizes—are popular with minimalist Wildpreneurs.
I recently purchased a piece of land in Ridgway Colorado with my brother—fellow free-spirit Rhett Jacobi. In true Wildpreneur fashion, we’re diving into the daydreaming stage of what to build…
Stay tuned to see what we create…our sibling inspiration is flowing with plenty of help from Wildpreneurs Kendall Hassemer (naturopath) and Walter Wright (captain) too!
Curious to know more about life as a creative builder? Check out this sweet interview with Rhett, founder of Arbor Construction, www.arborconsruction.net.
What was your inspiration to get Arbor Construction going?
I saw starting a business that allowed me to take on ‘projects’ as a way to maintain my freedom and not get stuck in the daily grind. I love being outside, using my hands and interacting with people, so I thought that being a contractor would be a slam dunk.
How long did you think about starting your business before you actually did it? What was the tipping point?
It was a slow progression of learning how to build and getting the experience necessary to take the tests to become a contractor. Once I had passed the tests and actually had my contractors license in hand, it was the same sensation as standing at the top of a ski run, or the high dive…..now it was time to ‘drop in’… hesitating wasn’t really an option.
Is this work your passion? If so, when did your passion begin or originate?
My work is my passion, but I’ve also made the conscious choice to separate my life from my work. I’m a surfer, skier and vagabond at heart. I love my work, and helping the people that are my employees and my clients. I’m an extrovert, so I treat my life and business as an adventure. It isn’t the destination, but the journey that matters.
Have you made any personal sacrifices to get your business started? Any funny examples of living on a shoestring budget?
Starting a business had me broke, stressed and was the most challenging thing I’ve done. I’d say it took 2-3 years before those growing pains started to subside.
My story: With a borrowed truck, and a rented trailer I finally ran out of money (temporarily bankrupt) after dumping a load of concrete at the dump, with the trailer left there as collateral for what I owed. I had to ask my employees wife (that I had never met) to loan me $200 so I could finish the day’s work. It was humbling, we laugh about it now and I still refer to her as my favorite ‘loan shark’.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve encountered as you’ve grown your business?
Tigre (my dad) gave me a piece of advice that I still used as my mantra and compass towards growing the business I want and overcoming my biggest obstacle: “Make sure the dog is wagging its’ tail, rather than the tail wagging the dog.” I interpret that as making sure I’m running my business within my life and goals, rather than my business running my life and forming my goals.
Do you strive to grow your business down the road? Or are you satisfied with where your business is at now?
I see growing my business as a function of my passion and commitment toward helping people and the planet. I always want to be a’disruptor’ and whether that’s through my business now, or working under a different name it wouldn’t change the outcome for me. I’ll be satisfied as long as I’m free, being compensated fairly and feeling engaged with my social and natural environment.
What is the best piece of advice you'd give to someone looking to start their own unique business?
Un-sheath your samurai sword and be ready to stand for what you believe in, and be ready to work for it. Actions speak louder than words, and your business is only as good as it’s reputation. I might also add something about letting your personality be part of your business, because it should be a representation of who you are.
What do you wish you’d known prior to getting started?
Nothing….there’s way too steep a learning curve to figure everything out before you start. Once the wheels are in motion, stay committed to your cause and be ready to be equal parts student and teacher.
Describe your perfect day of work and play as a wild entrepreneur. What keeps you inspired?
My perfect day is to wake up early, surf and eat breakfast. It’s important to pay yourself first, so if you’re day gets so full you don’t finish until after dark, you at least had your morning time. After surfing, I’d go to work and check in on my employees (my friends) and focus on business development. In the afternoon I’d go cash checks, and finish the day early. I’m a believer in the Pareto Rule, so focus on the work output rather than the hours put into the work. When the work is done, and the opportunity arises, it’s time for company sponsored recreation: surfing, hiking, exploring…all employees understand the value of keeping it fun.
Where do you find support? Friends? Family? Who keeps you motivated?
My friends, my amazing girlfriend, and thinking about my options. I ask myself: If I wasn’t doing this, what else would I be doing? Being self employed is a gift that should never be taken for granted.
What’s your favorite part about being a wild entrepreneur?
Making my own schedule, and being the final decision maker. Being ‘captain of the ship’ is a big responsibility, but the benefit is that you can steer wherever you want it to go.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I don’t think that people need to start their own business to accomplish being a wild entrepreneur. Every leader/business owner needs a solid team to create something amazing. Being part of that team is every bit as important as starting your own business. Keep your lifestyle goals and value in mind, and allow that to be your compass. The community of individuals you surround yourself with cannot be over stated. Quality people with values aligned to your own are an essential part of success.