In October of 2012 I was a Boise City Firefighter, a union member, and a public employee. I had one of the most dependable occupations one can have, at least in regards to the danger of being fired (no pun intended). Two days later, in November, I was unemployed and on the streets. Well, not exactly on the streets.
I had been selling real estate as a “Side Job” (i.e. I had two full time occupations) for about 2.5 years when I made the decision to leave employment and jump with both feet into a self-employment; or as we in the game like to call it, Unemployment! Not long after leaving the fire service to continue my capitalist journey; I took my Real Estate License to the next level, became a broker, and started my own Brokerage.
Fast forward 48 months, and Amherst Madison is top-15 Brokerage in Idaho and an intense passion for yours truly. Starting and running your own business is exciting, rewarding, creative, and possibly lucrative. It is also stressful, nerve wracking, saddening, and lonely; depending on the day (or in the case of a real estate brokerage, depending on the hour). However, if you are one of those brave souls who yearns to build your own boat and set sail, here are some tips to get you started:
1. Test the Market – You don’t know anything until the marketplace says that you do. What does this mean? It means that a lot of ideas we have in startup mode are later proven by the market to be unfounded, unwanted, or just plain bad ideas. The only way to find this out is to get your minimum viable product or service concept into the hands of potential customers as soon as possible to get their reaction. Will they buy it or not?
2. Prepare to Shift – The vast majority of the time, your original idea or concept will not be accepted by the market or will require tweaking and changing. Be ready for this and anticipate the need for sudden and dramatic change. Do not fall in love with your idea to the extent that you cannot be flexible. Ditch Ego. Embrace Humble Pie.
3. Burn the Ships – At some point you must jump off the dock and commit yourself to your vision. The art and magic can be knowing when to make this leap away from your steady source of income to dedicate 100% of your time and efforts to your business. The precise timing varies, but the act itself does not. If you wish to be successful, it will take everything you have.
4. Provide Value – Focus on how you can provide a product or service (a value) to your clients which is much higher than the money which they will use to compensate you. In many ways, success in business is frighteningly simply. Provide a high value and make sure everyone who needs to know about it, knows about it (marketing).
5. Love the Customer, not the Product/Service – Love the customer. Better yet, consider the customer a Life-Long client and fall in love with them. To provide the high level of value to the client that is needed to differentiate yourself in the marketplace; you must be passionately dedicated to serving the spoken and unspoken needs of your clients.
6. Commit, Let Passion Flow, & Enjoy – Commit yourself 100% and you will find a passion and drive that you have never known. Along the way, don’t forget to enjoy the process. It is vital to choose an industry and/or a business for which you can commit wholeheartedly and sustain a burning fire of passion. The road will not be easy. There will be a lot of up’s and down’s. Enjoy the ride.
7. Education – Never Stops. Cliché? Yep. 100% Fact? It should be. Consider this: in an economy, which is primarily service-driven, what are we really selling? Where does our value in a service industry lie? Knowledge. In a fast-paced and rapidly evolving service industry (such as real estate brokerage), your ability to survive will be based on your ability and willingness to stay at the front of the pack. Education should be pro-active and should always be pushing you closer to your long-term vision.