Becoming Your Own Boss

IF YOU DREAM of opening your own agency one day, you may be wondering what’s in store for you. Cameron Nicholls recently went through the transition from agent to owning his own independent agency, and shares some of what he learned along the way.

Some of us have already done it; many more are toying with the idea. If you dream of opening your own agency one day, what would you need and how would you go about it?

If you asked me how to go from agent to owner, in one short answer I believe you must be hungry. Hungry to achieve your true potential, to bring your own visions, ideas and working style to life. Yes, you have to be a proven performer and most definitely possess an entrepreneurial spirit, but the hunger has to be there to steer your own ship and better represent your clients in the marketplace.

The hunger has to be there to ‘steer your own ship’ and better represent your clients.

The second short answer I would use when asked how to go from agent to owner is through experience. It doesn’t happen overnight.

I started my real estate career as a receptionist – the office junior. From here I moved into property management and then on to sales. This was over the course of years, not months – in fact, just shy of 10 years. I studied first for my Certificate of Registration, then my real estate licence, as well as numerous industry-specific courses along the way. Knowledge is power and I have a thirst to learn all I can to stay ahead of the game.

Advances in technology have completely changed the face of real estate and it is extremely important to stay abreast of these changes. Be knowledgeable on the latest platforms and applications available to you as an agent and, more importantly, as an owner.

It is hard, very hard. The first 12 months of owning your own business is thankless, unforgiving work. The long hours and minimal return will most certainly push you to your limits. This is where hunger comes back into play. If you are hungry, you push on.

These 12 months are crucial – it is when you will build the framework of your business and lay the foundations for its success. Get this part right and things will get easier from here, I promise.

Surround yourself with good people. I am thankful to have an incredible mentor who has been with me every step of the way, since my very first day in real estate. Nothing is more powerful than having people believe in you and cheer you on. Quite frankly, you need this.

Network with like-minded professionals and people who share common goals. Align yourself with positive influences. It’s a harsh truth that people can bring you down, but people can also lift you up and help you succeed. Find those people; it is empowering.

As an agency owner, I can now bring an entirely new level of service to my clients – a highly personalised service where they are dealing directly one-on-one with the principal. It is my name on the door and I have a vested interest, now more than ever, to see the business succeed. I believe this translates to a profound level of care and a weighty incentive to achieve premium results.

I started my own business to take control of my future – one that is bright and knows no limits. This is terribly exciting.

So what are my top five things to remember when taking the plunge?

  1. What’s the worst that can happen? If for some reason it doesn’t work out for you, you will be hired again.
  2. Decide whether you want to create your own brand or become a franchise. If it’s a franchise, make sure you read the finer details and know your responsibilities.
  3. You don’t need a fancy office to launch – most of us started working out of our own living rooms.
  4. It won’t happen overnight, but hang in there as you will get there, as long as you’re prepared for some extreme highs and lows along the way.
  5. Look for mentors to help guide you through the process, such as your old boss, family or friends who have successfully started their own business, or a combination.


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Cameron Nicholls

Cameron Nicholls is Director of Nicholls & Co Estate Agents – a vibrant boutique agency in Abbotsford, Sydney.