James Hunt is affectionately known as “The Celebrity Credit Guru to the Stars.” This multi-millionaire entrepreneur is responsible for helping the nation’s top celebs, athletes, and thousands of everyday people with their credit and finances. He also teaches young men how to become six and seven-figure earners through his company, THE HUNT. Formerly homeless, James has thrived not only due to the mastery of his industry, but his style, marketing, and persona continue to draw tons of people to him who also desire to be extremely successful.
With the year 2020 taking its toll on entrepreneurs all across the nation, James Hunt’s business continued to soar despite COVID-19. Among his high-powered clients are people like Kanye West, Akon, Tyrese, Ryan Seacrest, Shaq, Taraji P. Henson, and hundreds of other athletes, business leaders, and Hollywood figures. He maintains that ATTENTION brings MONEY, and all business owners who aspire to attain massive success must understand the sweet science of luring in clientele during any climate – anchored by results and an attractive brand.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with James Hunt to discuss his journey and here’s what went down:
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
I am originally from Chicago. 8 years ago I was homeless. I used to walk up and down Lenox Road in the Buckhead community of Atlanta seeing the Bentleys and Rolls Royces and I told myself that one day that would be me driving one of those cars. I bought myself a cheap laptop and started my business in a Starbucks during the day, and I built a relationship with the local Fed Ex and worked out of there at night. When I got my first celebrity client and cleaned up his entire family’s credit, that helped me to grow my business and the word started to spread about who I was and what I did. From there, things really took off.
When did your entrepreneurial flair first reveal itself?
It was always there. I remember back as early as when I was in the 8th grade. I had my mother who was a seamstress to design this jumpsuit that I wore for the 8th-grade luncheon and I wanted it in a very specific way – something that no one ever had before. I was stressed about it being identical to how I wanted it. That is as early as I can remember. I was about 13. I always had a vision for how I wanted things to be and I was very serious about my expectations.
How did your life look before being an entrepreneur?
I saw life as looking through a glass ceiling, like employees that are at the graces of their employer who decides your salary, who decides the hours you work, and who decides whether you are hired or fired at any moment. You have to work hard but you don’t have real freedom. Entrepreneurship is about freedom. Looking back on it, that experience was worth it. Now, even though I own my own company, I still work 16 hours a day, seven days a week.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
Shattering new glass ceilings and goals. Taking on new ideas and accomplishing goals is something that I set out to do on a daily basis. That daily challenge to get up and accomplish what you set out to accomplish for that day is literally what drives me that day. And tapping into what is inside of me. Discovering what is inside of me and being able to project that to the world.
In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur and explain why.
Relentless – Because I understand that I cannot give up. I understand that failure is not an option and so I absolutely have to be relentless in my pursuit of every avenue that I have set out to accomplish. For me, it is not enough to just be successful, and the goal is to reach the top. If there is one word to be described, it is being completely relentless in my pursuit of success.
What were your top three motivations for starting your business?
1) Financial independence.
2) The ability to be able to help the people who will become my clients. To offer a real service that can help them in their pursuit of new homes, new businesses, new cars, and understanding the power of credit.
3) Recognition/ validation. I think there is nothing more rewarding than being validated by the people you look up to. 8 years ago everyone in credit repair was better off than me. They were my mentors. Today, to come full circle and become mentors of the people who mentored me is validation that I have chosen correctly and I have worked my way all the way to the top.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Identifying what your product is…what you bring to the table. Then, once you discover that, the next question is, is that product in demand? Is there enough of a demand to become successful in it? If the answer is yes, how can you maximize every day to make yourself a success in that particular field? Also, identifying who your competition is. If you don’t know your competition, you can be run over in your business. You should know why they are successful and what you can learn from your competition that can make you even more successful. Know their flaws. If you understand that, you would understand what drives their clients to you and how you can elevate in your industry.
What are the three biggest challenges you have faced growing the business and how did you overcome them?
1) Starting. Starting is always the biggest challenge. Many people will say they want to do something and because they never pull the trigger on it, they give themselves an excuse. Starting was like starting my company in Starbucks when it seemed like it wasn’t going to work or when I couldn’t even get one client.
2) Refusal to give up. The challenge was that the option of giving up was always in front of me. It was always door #1 or door to keep going or #2 to give up. I was given the temptation to give up but I chose door #1.
3) Once you gather a certain amount of success and you have outdone yourself and you don’t have any more competition, it is a challenge for an entrepreneur to not relax or take your feet off the gas. But, you have to press the accelerator and go further because you are in uncharted territory. Getting to another level that no one else is doing is also extremely challenging.
There are many times where I am challenged. Whenever I get overwhelmed, I go back to that same Starbucks and sit at that same table where I started and talk myself into success – because if I did it from the bottom level I can do it from another level. It’s about having a place of accountability. You should have a place where you can go to that is yours where you can hold yourself accountable for getting to the next level.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
I did not go the normal route of marketing for years. In the beginning, I never pursued social media. I went the old-fashioned way of word of mouth. When you saw you had to get to the next level you saw that you needed to do word of mouth. When the celebs came along, then I figured out how I could utilize that to go to the next level. When we helped Tank (singer) and he put up a social media video on Instagram about his new house on Christmas, it took us to a level where our phones rang nonstop from Christmas day to January with a flood of new clients that we weren’t really prepared for. Every entrepreneur needs to be cautious because if you are not prepared for it, success can actually drown you.
Social media has really helped me. I use it in a way to showcase a lifestyle of success that credit brings with it. I show the celebrity clients we help who are purchasing cars and homes and showcasing that luxury lifestyle. That has opened up all kinds of doors. The phones just ring, all you have to do is get up. I think you have arrived when you no longer seek to chase clients or money, but the money and the clients chase you.
As you grew the business, what have been some of the most important leadership lessons you have learned?
Learning who to fire and who to hire. Understanding how to motivate your team and keep them upbeat with you. I have learned that you are no greater or no less than the team that you put in power around you.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
It was from John H. Johnson, the founder of Ebony and Jet Magazines. When I was 17 years old, I went on a tour of Ebony and Jet and he was talking about the fact he always gave his employees free lunch. We were curious as to why he gave them free lunch. He said when you feed them that shows your employees that you care about their well-being. When they know you care about their well-being, you will get a better day’s work out of them. So, since starting my business, I have always fed my employees. That includes bringing in personal chefs or treating them every day to make sure they don’t have to worry about breakfast or lunch. Treat them the way you want to be treated yourself.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Never give up. No matter how dark it seems. No matter what the naysayers or haters have to say about you. If you really believe that you have something that the world needs and a real product that is in demand, then you have a responsibility to not give.