Joey Habib of Halifax is an embodiment of a successful entrepreneur. He is the CEO of two companies, and though they are in various industries, he has managed to run both of them successfully. Joseph’s journey to his current position has not been easy and results from hard work, strategic planning, and an in-depth understanding of management principles. Joey’s journey into entrepreneurship started way back in high school when he used to work at his father’s restaurant. Joseph James Habib Senior had a hugely successful restaurant and let his son participate in the business’s day-to-day running. This gave Joey firsthand knowledge of essential entrepreneurial concepts such as customer service. He later perfected these skills when he joined Dartmouth College for a business degree, and later spent three years working in the banking industry.
Joseph’s first venture was Joey Habib Real Estate. He started as a property management agency then grew it into a multimillion-dollar business that has a portfolio of rental apartments and buys and sells luxury real estate. This company’s success is what helped him get into the toys business through Joseph Habib Dartmouth Toy Supplies Company. The company sells low-cost toys imported from Asia and is also building theme parks for families that cannot afford Disney World for their kids. Joey hopes to build on these two companies’ success to get into the tech world, funding startups in their early stages of operations.
Aside from running two successful businesses and looking to build new ones, Joseph is also an active philanthropist. He is involved in many charity drives, but the bulk of his donations go towards science and cancer research. He does this in the hopes that if a breakthrough is found, it would be a win for all of humanity. For someone with a life as busy as Joey’s, he needs time out to relax and reenergize every once in a while. He usually does this by taking time off to travel the world. Over the years, Joseph has been to hundreds of countries, and not only is it therapeutic, but it has also given him new ideas on how to run his business.
How did you get started in this business?
That’s a little vague since I am the CEO of two companies, operating in non-related industries. I think a more pertinent question would be, how did I get into entrepreneurship? To that, I would say it’s a long history that has a lot to do with my family background. I am the son of a businessman. My father ran a hugely successful restaurant, and as a kid, I spent a lot of my time taking care of it. This exposure helped me understand the pros of entrepreneurship, and I set my mind to become one in adulthood. I went to college and then worked for three years in the banking industry, before venturing out to form my first company, Joey Habib Real Estate. I started it as a small agency, managing property for others, then expanded into buying and selling homes. Today, the company is quite extensive, and we are all in key areas of the real estate market. After making sure that my real estate company was a going concern, I jumped into the toy industry through my other company, Joseph Habib Dartmouth Toy Supplies. This is mainly focused on the low-income segment of the toys market. So far, it has been a success, and we are hoping to expand significantly into theme parks, and create a lower-tier version of Disney World.
How do you make money?
How I make money varies with the company. In real estate, we have multiple revenue streams. We make money from commissions on property management, profits from selling property, and rental income. In the toys business, our primary revenue stream is from selling toys. We hope to open up more revenue streams for the toys business in the near-term, including franchising the brand.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
My real estate business took about 5-years to break-even. I was ploughing back every profit I got from the agency business into the other aspects of the company, which delayed the time it took for the business to turn profitable. Anyone in real estate business knows that it is capital intensive, and it can take even longer than 5-years to operate profitably. The toys business took a much shorter time to break even. By the 6th month, we were operating profitably, and with positive cash flows.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
There were multiple times when I had second thoughts about whether what I was doing was ever going to be successful. The most memorable one was when I first got into real estate. Winning just a single client over was a hustle. I was unknown in the industry, and people simply didn’t trust that I could do a good job managing their properties. By the second month in the business, I hadn’t landed a single client, and it started to get to me. To handle this sad chapter in my life, I kept reminding myself of why I started the business in the first place. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, and I knew the freedom that comes with being one. The urge to make it and live free, kept me going and pushing even harder until I earned my first client. I am happy that after that, things got much better and I developed the fortitude to overcome all challenges, and thrive.
How did you get your first customer?
I got my first customer through a referral from an acquaintance. When I was starting the real estate business, I met an old friend and told them about my business. It turns out they knew someone who needed these services and that pretty much kick-started my business. It was the breakthrough that I had been hoping for all along.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Other than referrals, I use Google Ads and Instagram influencers for marketing. Google Ads have been quite instrumental to the growth of the real estate business. It is easy to target the demographics we want with ads accurately, and very cost-effectively. For the toys business, social media influencers, especially Instagram influencers, have given us the most return on investment. They have a way of easily connecting with our clients and generate new business.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
The toughest decision I have made recently was to lay off some of our staff in the toys business. Due to COVID-19, getting supplies became a challenge, and by mid-2020, we were just getting by. Consumers have been quite slow to spend on toys for the past year too, and our newly established theme park has ground to halt. Due to these challenges, we had no option but to let some of our staff go. That was a low for me as these are people who have been with us since the business started. Now that the vaccine is here, we are optimistic that business will return to pre-pandemic levels. Once this happens, we will bring them all back, and at even better pay.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
My success stems from a lot of things, but at the base of it all his passion. I am very passionate about business, and this helps me keep going even during tough times. My passion stems from the freedom that comes with entrepreneurship, and the fact that I can earn good money to spend on everything I want. For instance, I have always been passionate about cancer research, and through entrepreneurial success, I can contribute towards scientific endeavours working towards a cure.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
That would be when I landed my first real estate client. Not only did it renew my hope in the business, but it was also a moment that opened up a lot of new business. I am where I am today because of that moment.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The future is bright. A COVID-19 vaccine is here, which means the world economy is about to take off again. This will have lots of positive implications for my businesses.
What business books have inspired you?
The most inspiring business book I have ever read is The 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey. It is a book that has taught me the importance of forming good habits. They may seem small but can make all the difference between success and failure in the long-run.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to always set goals, and stay focused until they achieve them. It is the secret to success in life.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
I am very willing to mentor people who want to get into entrepreneurship. Just hit me up on LinkedIn and we will work out the details.