Bianca Denham: When will you realise you’re running a business?

Before I started my career in real estate, I lived in the UK for 13 years, and for the bulk of that time I fronted a band.

For over a decade my chosen family and I dedicated hours and hours to writing, rehearsing, researching, recording, marketing, investment, performing, auditioning and fighting in an effort to achieve our goal.

That particular goal was highly unattainable, akin to winning the lottery; to become a signed and profitable musical artist.

After so long spent striving for success, it remained out of reach, and I moved home with my tail between my legs and set about finding a new career.

Thanks to my big brother, I discovered what would become my next obsession, real estate.

As I’ve mentioned before, the easily accessed, simple to follow recipe for success seemed too good to be true to me.

I entered my new career with determination, energy and ambition.

A heady cocktail, which quickly resulted in a viable and lucrative career. Hallelujah!

Today, in my very privileged position of being able to closely observe the best operators in our industry, I can see even more clearly what the complete recipe for success looks like and I often find myself wondering why there aren’t more successful agents?

Why is our employee attrition rate so high?

In essence, I think it comes down to the critical distinction between the two possible mindsets with which one approaches their real estate career.

I’ll ask you a question.

Do you see yourself as an employee or as a business owner?

I’m not talking about principals or licensees in charge, I’m talking about every single real estate sales professional from the day one rookie through to the lifetime agent.

How do you view your chosen profession?

The way you answer this question will have a critical impact on the way your business not only looks today, but its future trajectory.

I remember when I was interviewed for my first role in real estate.

It was as if the principal was actually trying to make me decline the role.

He told me, ”I’m not offering you a job, I’m offering you an opportunity”.

He went on further to explain, “This is the beginning of ‘YOU Inc.’ Are you willing to put in the sacrifice to build your business”?

You may not think it’s a problem to have an employee mindset, as work isn’t everything, right?

I absolutely do agree with striving for balance in all areas of your life, although to fulfil the ultimate opportunity that lies within this industry, it’s critical to switch to a business mindset and I’ll talk about the key differences between the two below.

Taking responsibility

One of the biggest challenges of being a real estate agent, is that you quickly realise it’s a job with a lot of different tasks to be completed.

Yes, the recipe for success is replicable, but generally it’s not successfully replicated by an individual.

Success in our industry creates a conundrum, where to spend your time?

You could argue it’s a full-time role creating opportunities to list property, although when most agents do reach that nirvana state of having listings in the market, they choose to drop the role of lead nurturing, and instead focus on selling the stock they’ve worked so hard to attain.

The result? Real estate seesaws of a good month, bad month. An employee will accept this reality – they’ve only got the hours they’ve got, and with this acceptance, they must also swallow the reality of the resulting pay packet.

Those who apply a business owner mindset will realise that their capacity-testing success will mean that they simply must invest in adding extra hours to their business so that they can continue the full-time role of bringing business in as well as processing stock out.

What you do with your money

If you were to talk to any small business owner about how they run their business, they will talk to you about a myriad of financial responsibilities.

Wages, rent, utilities, subscriptions, stock, insurances, marketing and the list goes on.

They would never think of taking 100 per cent of their revenue and putting it in their pocket, yet that’s what most of our industry does each pay cycle.

Take your share of the commission owed and put it into your personal bank account.

No foresight for future investment in growth of the business.

Many agents will make some level of investment into their business – DL cards into letterboxes, banner ads on portals, bus stop billboards – although it’s seldom done with a plan or with a specific budget in mind.

Those who see their business as just that will take a different approach; faithfully drawing a fixed wage and leaving the remainder of the profit in a separate account for future investment decisions.

They make annual investment plans around staffing, marketing, professional development and market share growth.

Prioritisation of time

Being a commission-only agent can feel incredibly vulnerable at times.

As referenced in my earlier article about scarcity mindset, there are so many daily reinforcements around ‘getting business at any cost’.

Inherently, our industry is challenged by stock availability, and this can cause agents to make compromising, short-term decisions around the attainment of that stock.

The best will take a long-term view to this challenge and build a reliable business for the future.

This creates a J-Curve, slower uptake to career growth, but when the growth comes, it’s usually exponential and far more significant than those who take a short-term view to stock-in flow.

Do you find yourself cannibalising your relationship nurturing call sessions in order to facilitate an unexpected buyer show-through or an opportunistic appraisal?

This is the most commonly found example of a short-term mindset overtaking a growth mindset.

Our best, business-minded agents will understand that the single most important activity that you need to fulfil every day is connecting with your future clients, and they will ensure their business allows for that activity to continue irrespective of other aspects of the role.

Take some time to review your mindset.

Are you in this for the long-haul?

Start treating your business as it deserves to be treated and the rewards will be limitless.

Show More

Bianca Denham

Bianca Denham is the Head of Performance and Recognition for the leading property group Ray White