How working for himself changed Clinton Eastell’s life

There’s been a bit of debate around the rise of small business, self-branded agents who are shunning the large franchise model and striking out on their own.

While there has been a decent swathe of conjecture thrown around, it’s hard to argue with the hard evidence of small business success.

Meet Clinton Eastell, the founder of Eastell and Co, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, which launched a year ago.

To mark the venture’s first birthday, Mr Eastell decided to reflect on how much he’s gained in a year.

Mr Eastell cut his teeth, learnt the ropes and put his nose to the grindstone – all the cliches – under major franchise groups throughout his career.

His hard work elevated his personal brand to a point where be felt being part of a major franchise was no longer helping him win business.

“In the end, about 90 per cent of my business was self-generated,” Mr Eastell said.

So, he started making plans early last year to strike out on his own.

He said it was unbelievable what a difference the past year had made.

“I remember we were six weeks away from launching the business and, for a variety of reasons, money was really tight,” he said. 

“We were heading to a party and the host asked us to bring some drinks and ice, which ended up being $50.

“Ash, my then girlfriend, and I checked our bank account and it only had $55 in it, and my next pay wasn’t coming through for another five days.

“Fast forward to now and my GCI has gone from $360,000 to $860,000.

“Best of all, because I keep more of that revenue, my take-home pay has risen from $161,000 as a PAYG agent to more than $700,000 as my own boss.”

Mr Eastell said starting his own business had changed his life.

“We’ve grown financially, we’ve grown as human beings and I’ve grown and learned more about this industry in the past 12 months than any time in my career,” he said.

“My client base, and knowledge, has grown exponentially.

“This is because I can now do things my way. I don’t have anyone telling me how to market client’s properties.

“Also, when you work for someone else there’s less motivation and opportunity to be creative and try different things.”

Mr Eastell partnered with UrbanX to create Eastell and Co.

UrbanX takes a relatively minor percentage of GCI in exchange for handling all of Eastell and Co’s administrative back end, accounts, marketing, training and support.

“At first UrbanX was a platform to help us get the business up and running, but the longer we’ve been with them, the more obvious it is how critical they’ve been to our success this year,” Mr Eastell said.

“We can just focus on working with our clients – listing and selling. UrbanX helps us do this.”

Working for themselves has also given them the opportunity to bring Ash into the business full-time.

“Working with your partner is most definitely difficult at times, but it has probably been the most rewarding part of the journey so far,” Mr Eastell said.

“To achieve this as an agent is fantastic, but your partner only really sees the numbers. 

“Now with Ash in the business, it has made it more enjoyable as we are doing this together. It has also made my job a lot easier because she runs the brand, sponsorships and community involvement, which we both get to enjoy together.”

“Also, UrbanX CEO Dan Argent’s guidance through COVID – given his experience during the Global Financial Crisis – was pivotal. We probably wouldn’t have come out the other end of COVID as well as we did if it wasn’t for his advice and support.”

Mr Eastell said he no longer needs to sweat spending his last $50 contributing to mates’ parties.

“We have bought our first property, a new car and, most importantly, an engagement ring for my fiancée,” he said.

“I’ve also managed to recruit three more agents under the Eastell and Co brand.”

Mr Eastell’s success shows starting your own brand can potentially yield life-changing dividends. 

All you need is hard work, the right support, and courage to break free from the franchise agency model.

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