Caroline Carter is an innovator and entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of Done In A Day, Inc., and the creator of The Perfect Listing™, the Total Home Transition™ process and the SMART MOVES™ Masterclass. Carter is considered the “go-to” Home Transition Expert in the US.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in New Jersey, the 3rd child of 4. My parents were both born in New York City and moved to the “country” to have and raise a family. They had a very traditional marriage-my father worked in NYC each day and my mother kept the home running. Our life was predictable, safe, loving, and nurturing. We were considered middle class and had a lovely 4-bedroom house in a nice neighborhood with access to decent public schools. Our lives were uncomplicated and filled with simple pleasures, like playing outside with our neighborhood friends.
My Mother was an accomplished opera singer, artist, and loved to decorate our home-on a budget. She would change the decor with the season-adding or removing slipcovers, drapes, pillows, rugs, books, and decorative items to reflect the “look” she wanted to create. She had an artist’s eye for proportion, design, and color. As a result of this, I learned at a very young age how to create a “look” -for less.
My parents both studied in Europe and believed that travel was a critical component to round out our education and broaden our horizons. We were very lucky. These trips changed my view of the world and my place in it. I began to recognize all the possibilities open to me as a teenager and think about what type of life I wanted to lead and how I would make the money necessary to afford it.
All 4 kids worked to make extra money. I started working as a “mother’s helper” for .50 per hour when I was 8 years old. I had $430 in the bank when I was 12 years old. I worked at a fast-food restaurant until I was 18 and became a waitress at a local family restaurant-a job I kept through my early 20’s. This work taught me many critical skills I continue to use in my business and personal life today. I also learned the power of relying on myself to get things done, on time and to the best of my ability.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
I wish I learned that it takes a team to build a sustainable business. Hire others who are smarter than me and compliment my expertise. I have spent the last 15 years building a 7-figure business by myself. I did not have a business degree, business plan or VC funding. I had sheer desire, determination, gut instinct and true grit. My journey would have been easier and more profitable had I built a solid team to support my efforts and provide a sustainable structure.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
There are so many as not every professional is a truth-teller with honorable Intentions. Many in the industries I work in are self-serving. As a Home Transition Expert, I created a niche that combines 2 very separate and complicated but interconnected industries: real estate and moving. I educate and advise homeowners on how to package and sell their house fast for the most money and create a smooth move to the next home. I am not a realtor or a mover but partner with them for the benefit of the seller. I have no conflict of interest. My allegiance is to the seller’s emotional, financial and physical health of the transition-always.
I am a truth-teller with a strategic plan focused on THEIR success. As a result of creating a successful transition for THEM, I have created success for myself and my company.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
The darkest period of adult life was making the decision to divorce in 2005. I been married for 12 years and had 3 children- 4, 6 and 8 years old. I had not worked outside the home for 12 years and was totally unprepared for the change of financial circumstances. I had to sell the family home-the only home my kids knew and had no idea how I would find a job to allow us to rent a home in a good public school district and remain near our family, friends, and all that was familiar to us. Emotionally, I was alone.
I quickly learned the meaning of the word “terror”. I was immobilized by fear. The clock was ticking…and the child support payments were not sufficient to support us without me substantially adding to them each month.
I had to dig deep and get back to basics-what was I qualified to do? What did I want to do? What was I even good at that I could monetize? What could I do and still have a flexible schedule to care for my emotionally broken kids?
The only answers that came to mind were my organizational skills; the ability to create order out of chaos and creating a certain “look” for less. I was sunk.
But I had a strong faith, believed in myself and my ability to figure it out. A few weeks later, a family friend with 2 little kids had just lost her husband unexpectedly and needed to sell her house and move-right away-could I help? This first 3-week project created the foundation upon which I built a company that I still run today.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
The biggest contributor to my professional success has also been my downfall. It’s the reliance on myself, my skills, abilities and adherence to truth and high professional standards. I did not widen my team and professional circle with others who have traveled the same road. Building a successful company over the last 15 years has not allowed me to have a personal and professional balance in my life. I am now changing that.
I have recently relocated from Maryland to Florida and am transitioning the company from serving 1:1 to 1: many. I am focused on rebuilding this “new” company differently-the way I wish I had done it from the beginning. I am looking closely at how to rebuild this company so that I am no longer alone and lonely at the “top”. There is so much I didn’t know then that I had to figure out along the way. The internet has changed access to information to allow me to understand how others in my position have built successful, scalable and sustainable companies while still maintaining a healthy life balance. That’s the current goal.
What is your morning routine?
I have always been an early riser. For the last 15 years I woke each day at 4:30 am to work before the kids woke up. It has always been my favorite time of day-a good cup of coffee and I’m ready to greet the possibilities each day brings.
For many years, I woke, drank a cup of coffee, worked out and spent a few hours on my computer before I showered and started the day. Now, I sleep till 5 am and maintain the same schedule because it works for me. I am truly most productive in the mornings and the quiet allows me to visualize, dream and manifest my goals.
I also read each night for at least 45 minutes and go to bed no later than 9:30 pm.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Vision Boards. I have always been goal-oriented and take time at the end of each year to review my personal and professional accomplishments and setbacks of the prior 12 months as well as to create the goals for the upcoming year. This exercise is critical to my yearly, 5- and 10-year goals and life plan.
Last year I created a vision board to capture images that represented the goals for the year. It’s very powerful for me and I look at it often. Unfortunately, due to COVID, many of the images will remain on the board for 2021!
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I understand my strengths and weaknesses and stick to a fairly strict daily schedule that work for me. This way I am able to make time to nourish both my mind and body and stay positive, keep the overwhelm at bay and remain productive. Oh, and I’ve learned to walk away from something I am struggling with to reboot my mindset.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
I read daily for both business and pleasure. It’s my way of continuing to build expertise in my niche as well as to disconnect from a long day of noise and over-stimulation before going to bed.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill was one of the first “business” books I read over 30 years ago. I like to reread it at the end of December each year as I prepare for and plan my business and personal goals for the upcoming year.
Like millions of others, Think and Grow Rich brings me back to base each time I read it. It reminds me of the strength and power within and what it takes each day for me to create “success” in my life.
I have read thousands of books across many genres over the course of my lifetime and immerse myself in what I am reading at the time. I imagine that I have been influenced by them all – personally or professionally.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown