Mike Freedline Uses What He Learned From Owning a Business in his Teaching


Credit to Taylor Hill

Business teacher Mike Freedline helps students in a class project

By Justin Brewer

Being a business teacher means teaching the basics of running a business, finances and all of the ins-and-outs required to be a successful entrepreneur. For many teachers, this may be a struggle as they have no firsthand experience in the field. For FHN’s business teacher Mike Freedline, teaching from experience is like second nature. Freedline has had the unique experience of running his own franchise of We Buy Ugly Houses.

“Our model was to buy houses as low as you can, fix them up and turn around and sell them,” Freedline said. 

Freedline started out as a teacher in 1993. He taught for 11 years across the Francis Howell School District and in 2004 decided to try something new. He and 6 members of his college fraternity had always talked about the idea of running a business together and they decided to make it a reality. 

“I just had an opportunity to [run a business],” Freedline said. “My friends and I have always said we want to have our own business. An opportunity came up and we sort of weighed out the pros and cons.”

As a franchise owner, Freedline ran his own branch of the “We Buy Ugly Houses” corporation. He and his fellow business members flipped houses for a profit. They hired contractors, builders and other construction crew to tear down what needed to be and build what needed to be added. Freedline and his associates did some of the work but for the most part, it was completed by the crews. Finally, they would sell the houses for a profit and since they bought them for cheap, the profit was usually good.

“We would buy a house for as low as possible and be able to fix it up and try to sell it for a profit,” Freedline said. “Everybody will tell you about their big successes, probably not their failures. We made deals where we made a lot of money. We were able to get them really cheap.”

Freedline has been able to incorporate what he learned in the business world back into teaching. When Freedline was in business, he had to learn how to successfully market and advertise. One example of this was placing different phone numbers on different advertisements, so they could track which was being the most successful and reaching the most prospective clientele. These strategies along with many other tools he learned have been helpful aids in his time back in the classroom, as he returned to teach marketing.

“I think it’s beneficial because Freedline can incorporate his knowledge from his personal business into his teaching life,” senior Rachel Buchanan said.

Students are also beneficiaries of his knowledge. They are given the opportunity to learn from his real life experiences and incorporate his knowledge into their work. He feels students learn better when they hear the stories he tells, as he is speaking from experience rather than from a textbook. It makes the teaching and learning experiences alike feel much more personal.

“I think they listen to the stories and they believe it more when they know you are talking from experience,” Freedline said. “Instead of just saying this is how you do it, I can say this is how we did it.”