I was jolted this week during our staff meeting when my father posed a question to the staff that got me thinking about the first company I started back in 2002. It was almost nine years ago when I started that company. It was a grocery wholesaling company that I started on the 4th floor of a single-man office building in Denver, Colorado. I had always operated a little differently than others in my industry and had this idea that I could create a niche business within a niche industry. I find it fascinating that looking back reminds me of how many people did not believe in my idea and were highly skeptical if I would even be able to pull it off. From that single-man office in a building with views of the front range Rocky Mountains, not only did I pull it off…but, I built an $18 million yearly revenue business. I didn’t sit around and wait to be told what I could or could not do and I certainly was not prepared for someone else to tell me what my future would look like. I simply went to work and created my own future.
Having spent the past two weeks preparing for 2012, I found it interesting in our staff meeting when this question was posted to all 28 of our staff.
“What two words can we count on for the future of our company”?
It was not a trick question and many outside of our company – heck, outside of the world of being an entrepreneur – would not have understood. But in our meeting, coming off of two weeks of planning, preparing and presenting by every employee, we had a pretty good idea what that answer was supposed to be. Many who have followed our company over the years may have guessed words like Property Management or Customer Service or Social Media. These are buzz words that we have certainly built a reputation around. But, when developing your business plan and goals and laying out the path you want to take for the future, they are not as important as the answer we arrived at today. Nothing is more important when it comes to your success than your belief in yourself, your partners, your staff or your company as a whole.
Creating Your Future
Real estate professionals spend a countless number of hours planning and preparing and I have known many who can prepare one amazing power point on where they are going and how they are going to get there. No offense, but the problem is often not in the planning or the preparing, but in the believing! Those same professionals will explain to you that the big asterisk next to their projections is because in order to hit those numbers the economy must turn around, unemployment needs to come down to 7% and the banks need to start lending again! In other words, they don;t believe their future is in their hands. Many industry “analysts” will tell you there has never been a more turbulent time in our history for the real estate industry. I am not so sure that statement is or even needs to be correct. There are a lot of challenges for our industry and it seems more obstacles are erected every day. Now, it is times like these when I love a great motivational quote and I have a simple one that is perfect for just this occasion.
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal”. Anonymous
There is no possible way to predict the future or know what is coming next. Too often we are told to look at historical data to portend what is coming next, but clearly will not work in this day and age. Whether we think the environment around the real estate industry is good or bad, I think we can all agree it is defintiely diferent! It has changed over the last few years. But there are companies, there are agents, there are investors who are absolutely thriving right now and that is because they do not look back to see what is going to happen next. They do not look to others or experts to tell them what they future holds. When it comes to their success and projecting their future they simply create it themselves.
A Real Estate Company that grew 63% in 2011 in this economy?!
That is not a typo. That is the reality of what happens when you decide to create your own future. There are boundless opportunities in today’s real estate market for every profession in the industry from agent to investor. You simply have to anticipate what your clients need and deliver it before they even know they want it. I have delivered many talks to business and investment groups on the topic of service your clients needs. It is a phrase that has special meaning to our company.
My father owned independent grocery stores when we were growing up and I cut my teeth on customer service by sacking groceries and hand delivering them to the cars of every customer. If you can remember having your groceries delivered to your car then I am sure, like me, you get a little sad every once in a while when you enter the self service lines at the local grocery store. It reminds me of a time when paying a little more for groceries but having the same person sack them for you every week who knew you by name was more important than the items on sale and the speed at which you got done shopping. In every company my family has started there has been an element of customer service and developing deeper, stronger relationships. We have always believed in catering to what a client wants and needs even when they don’t know they want or need it. As simple as it sounds, this has always been our way of gaining leverage in our industries and continuing to be innovative in our approach to our services. When I started my grocery wholesaling company, I believed I could build a business and gain a foothold over competitors with lower pricing if I provided better and more accurate information to my clients. By providing very personal service to them I was able to win their trust, their respect and their business.
The real estate company that grew 63% in 2011 did so by simply asking the question of what future it wanted. When a clear picture emerged every single employee was dedicated to creating that future. Much of that growth and success can be attributed to very personal service and having everyone believe that their every action could positively effect a clients experience. It is that belief that mattered most. It was the ability to develop a vision for what we wanted the future of our real estate company to look like and then simply creating it. The opinions of the real estate experts didn’t matter. What mattered was that when all the planning, the preparing and the presenting was completed, every mind in the room believed that it was possible to create a future that the experts said couldn’t happen.
I clearly believe that there is lot more to success than simply good planning and hard work. There is a certain mentality that comes with being an entrepreneur and being successful. Real estate professionals will tell you that there have been many people left in tatters by the real estate industry for various reasons. However, there are many, many more success stories in real estate and I can promise you that each of those success stories have a common trait. They believe in their vision and they create their own futures.