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11 Principles For Building A Solid Real Estate Business

real estate business owner in private office

I've been in the world of real estate for a while—first, as an agent, and now, heading up a tech business. I've experienced failure, success, and everything in between. And through these experiences, I've had a number of Aha! moments that have metamorphosed into a set of principles.

These 11 principles are for those who want more than a career in real estate. If you're up to the challenge of building a business that has value, is scalable, will provide a predictable income, and can one day be passed along...hold onto these truths.

1) You are not a salesperson.

Stop thinking of yourself as a real estate salesperson. You’re a founder. A CEO. You’re building a business, not a sales job.

2) You've got to step outside the bubble.

It’s important for us to get out of the real estate echo chamber. Find a hobby. Try one of these unusual New Year's resolutions. Read about things outside of the real estate scene. Get a base of friends who have no ties to the real estate world.

Our brains need input and stimulation from a large variety of sources; otherwise, we’ll get tunnel vision and become disconnected from what is real.

3) Mental and physical health matter.

We have one vehicle to get through life, and it needs to be as tuned as possible.

It’s crucial to take care of yourself—and to make it the top priority. Everything else trickles down from that. You know what to do. It's time to make time for it.

Related: Why A Healthy Lifestyle Will Make You A Better Real Estate Agent

4) Nerds rule.

Dave Ramsey talks about “nerds” and “free spirits” when it comes to finances in marriage. The “nerd” loves to manage the budget while the “free spirit” loves to forget there’s a budget. If, as a business owner, you aren’t the “nerd,” hire one.

5) It's not about keeping up with the competition.

It’s a natural inclination to fall into the habit of checking up on our competitors. We pay attention to their ads, what they post on social, and any marketing they're doing.

Stop. This approach puts you perpetually one step behind. It makes you reactive instead of proactive.

Instead, focus on your unique market and clientele. How can you reach them and resonate with them? How can you best serve them?

Do you. Your authenticity is your brand.

Related: Answer These 5 Questions To Define Your Real Estate Brand

6) Businesses are like kids.

I raised 4 kids. They are all girls. I can assure you, no matter what you do or say to try to control the future, at the end of the day, they’re going to do what they want. And so is the broader economy.

Things will go wrong. You’re going to make mistakes. Lots of them. Don’t beat yourself up.

Learn, react, and adapt.

7) Positive thinking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

As a CEO, it’s your job to think of everything, and then prepare/plan from there. It’s okay to plan and hope for the best, but measuring it with a little doom and gloom is often prudent. Run through worst-case scenarios on a regular basis and understand how rough patches could play out. Be prepared, so when things happen outside of your control, you can adapt quickly.

Related:  The Downside Of Positive Thinking

8) Vacations are non-negotiable.

Taking time off not only helps you stay healthy, but vacations also makes you a better business owner. It clears your head, helps you focus, and snaps you out of your tendencies to over-focus on your business. Slow down. It’s better to go slow in the right direction than to go fast in the wrong direction.

Related:  How To Go On Vacation Without Abandoning Your Real Estate Business

9) Everybody's winging it...even the gurus.

Nobody has all the answers. “Gurus” may have first-hand experience on what has worked in the past, but right now? Nope. There are too many variables in business to know everything. Life and business move too fast.

10) Process is key.

If you’re doing things more than once, create a scalable process for it. One of the greatest challenges of a solo real estate agent is preparing their business to scale and operate during the times they’re not available. To do that, you must turn everything into a process.

At Realvolve, we call these "workflows."

Every person you meet, every listing you take, and every transaction you have requires a process. Let’s say you go to a listing appointment. There are likely a half dozen scenarios that come after that appointment. Every single one of those scenarios can be planned out in a workflow.

11) Relationships are everything.

You will never out-lead-generate your failure to build relationships. As much as a property is about location and price, your business is about relationships (and process).

It doesn’t matter if you're a restaurant owner, a mechanic, or a real estate agent—you cannot build a business with the false assumption that there will always be a steady stream of new customers available. The numbers do not work and the market is always a moving target. You need a portfolio of relationships.

Related: The Secret To Building Relationships For Your Real Estate Business

These are the lessons I've learned—so far. (Because we never actually stop learning...not if we want to continuously improve.) Use these principles to guide you as you build your real estate business. And as you pick up lessons along the way, add to this list of principles (and share them with me, too).

Go slow, and build to last.


This blog post was originally published on September 7, 2017, and has been updated to include additional resources.

Dave Crumby

Dave is the Chairman of Firepoint / Realvolve, a state-of-the-art customer relationship management (CRM) platform built expressly for real estate agents. Dave began his real estate career as an agent in 1996. Dave authored in 2013 the book titled 'REAL: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits in Real Estate’ that has since become a best seller. The book features Dave's experience and the wisdom of other successful real estate leaders, such as the CEOs of Zillow, Trulia, Better Homes and Gardens, and many others.


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