Hello SOTGC community,
The idea to start my own business came to me when I realized how little support I was getting from my affiliation with an international brokerage house. The affiliation allowed me to build some amazing relationships, meet wonderful colleagues, and receive great training and I do not regret any of the time I spent in corporate America. I was however, sourcing, servicing and billing my own clientele and I began to realize that I was overpaying for the amenities I was receiving. Additionally, there was a disconnect in the company’s methodologies and my methodologies.
San Diego Office Properties was originally designed to be “client-centric” and relational rather than transactional. Two years later, delivering superior client service is still the foundation of the company’s mission, however as we’ve grown, we’ve expanded on that platform. In addition to just being “client-centric” we have created a corporate culture within the organization that mirrors our exterior mission. SDOP brokers know that they are part of a community – not just a company. Our all-female brokerage house prides itself on collaboration, teamwork, and support of one another.
As with trying anything new, you learn the most from the mistakes you make. Consequently, my advice for a new entrepreneur feeds off of what I have learned from my short-comings. Three mistakes I made/Lessons I Learned are as follows:
Mistake #1 Not Asking for Help As Soon As I Needed It – A mistake I commonly made was waiting until there was almost a crisis before reaching out and asking for help. I never wanted to trouble anyone or ask for advice unless I “REALLY” needed it. What I quickly learned is that most people (even those that are very busy) are happy to help. Personally, it feels good when I can help a colleague or provide a friend with advice. I learned that the people in my professional network are really no different – they feel good when asked to help. By asking for feedback and advice earlier, I began to minimize my stress and solve a potential problem sooner which has greatly contributed to my business growth. Lesson #1 – When faced with a dilemma, potential problem, or even a task outside of your comfort zone such as whether to incorporate or how to start a blog; ask for others advice sooner rather than later. They’ll be happy to help and you’ll be glad you asked.
Mistake #2 Thinking YOU have to Master it All – When starting your business there are many operational tasks that must be done in addition to servicing your clients. Many entrepreneurs are a one-man operation, at least temporarily until the profit starts rolling in. I had a part-time assistant during my first year in business, but I was still the one responsible for the bookkeeping, marketing, website updates etc… These operational components could be a full-time job on their own and I was trying to squeeze them in while maintaining a full schedule servicing my clientele. It quickly became very clear to me where my strengths and weaknesses were from an operational perspective. I’ve succumb to the fact that technology is just not my thing! Posting daily on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter and website updates kept getting pushed to the bottom of my “to-do” list. I took a few workshops to learn more about technology and social media and put forth a decent effort to establish a routine which included daily social media updates. After struggling with the routine for about a month and dreading the daily task, I chose to put it on the back burner and focus on marketing efforts that were more aligned with my strengths. Now that my company is more established, I’ve hired a company to conduct technology updates and another broker in my office jumped at the chance to create our social media platform. There will always be menial tasks that we may not love to do, but I’ve adopted a philosophy of outsourcing the areas where I am weakest, which allows me to spend more time making my strengths even stronger. Lesson #2 – Spend time developing your strengths and natural talents, rather than focusing time on trying to overcome your weaknesses. In most cases, your weaknesses can be outsourced and you will be better served by letting go of the task.
Mistake #3 – Putting ALL of Your Eggs in One Basket – Some of the best business advice I’ve received is to explore multiple avenues at once and see which roads naturally lead to success. In my business I started out focusing on only office product, but as I began to receive referrals for other types of real estate such as industrial, retail or multi-family I began to diversify. Diversifying not only allowed me to expand my knowledge, but it also allowed me to draw from a larger potential revenue stream. Instead of simply referring these deals to another qualified broker specializing in that area, I would work with the broker on the requirement. This allowed me to stay involved in the deal, develop new areas of expertise, and also be assured that my client was receiving the best service possible. Lesson#3 – Constantly seeks ways to expand your product or service line. Additionally, always be on the lookout for other businesses that are complementary to yours as there may potentially be a chance to collaborate with them in the future.
Photo credit: www.slice-works.com