You are in business for yourself and generating solid gross, but money for bills and expenses is tight. Yet you know if you don’t clone yourself or do something to expand your bandwidth, your bottom line is going to lose traction. What do you do? It’s time to ask the question, “Am I ready for an assistant.” The answer, of course, is predicated on any number of factors and follow-up questions, not the least of which being, can you afford it? Perhaps you are better served by asking “How can I not afford it?”
The first book given to me by my broker when I hung my real estate license where it still resides today was Michael Gerber’s, “The E-Myth Re-Visited: Why Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do about It”. She explained to me that, as a small business person running my new real estate practice, I would benefit greatly from his thinking. Being the avid learner that I am, I read it eagerly, then filed it promptly away, ignoring much of the good sense he shared. Well, years and a few bumps and scrapes later, I’ve learned the hard way. In it, he relates the tale of a pie maker. She is an excellent technician, making the finest pies around. Encouraged to open her own pie store, she does only to discover that, although she is the most proficient baker, her management and entrepreneurial skills are under-developed, thus her business is beginning to flounder.
The most important lesson I derived ultimately from this material was to define for myself my business strengths and weaknesses. As I recall, Mr. Gerber divides the small business person’s fundamental abilities into three categories: technician, adept at the core talent, craft or skill around which the business is built; manager, the overseer and facilitator of day-to-day operations and finally; entrepreneur, the big picture person, the visionary. Arguably, each of us in small business has some combination of these talents. Conversely, we are each weak in areas, too. The trick, then, is to know what you are or are not good at and structure your business goals, hiring and growth accordingly. In his book, he applies the typical corporate organization chart to you, the small business person. The only difference being that it is your head you have to place in each of the key corporate positions. Indeed, typically, we are our own CEO, COO, CFO, Marketing and Sales V.P., etc. That’s way too many hats for any one person to wear.
Most real estate agents do not enter the industry with a team already in place. In fact, many agents enjoy lengthy careers without hiring anyone. I would argue, however, you and your clients are served best when you recognize and act on this reality, that when your business is achieving critical mass and your resources are spreading thin, it’s time to get help. For example, ask yourself if the marketing campaign for which you just spent the last two days stuffing envelopes is an effective use of your time. Make an effort to calculate what your hourly rate might be, were you to charge one, and compare that to what you would pay an assistant to do your stuffing for you. You’ll get my point. There is no surer way to building a successful real estate business than putting yourself out in front of your clients. If you are focusing on marketing, operations, finances, business development AND bottle washing, you’ll find yourself spinning wheels on all fronts or hiding in the kitchen in a cloud of metaphorical dough dust wanting just to make pies and nothing else. If that’s your plan, you may end up eating a lot of them.