I can only do so much for you from here!

Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart Realty West CalBRE #01458572

Starting a business is easy, right? All it takes is a dive into the deep end — hang out the shingle, let the family know what you're doing, and you're off and running.

Business magazines regularly report that about 80% of businesses fail within the first five years. Are you next?

There can be many reasons why a business fails, so here are a baker's dozen tips to help you improve your chances of succeeding:

  1. Keep it simple.
    If you think that your business is too complex, most likely it is. The simpler you can make it for yourself, your employees, and your customers, the greater likelihood you'll have for success.
  2. Hire people to help you.
    I know, I know. You don't have money to hire people yet. In all honesty, I would submit that if you don't have enough money to hire at least one part-time assistant to help you get up and running, your company is probably undercapitalized and primed for failure.
  3. Hire the best.
    They will cost more, but it is highly likely that they will deliver more, too.
  4. Hire people whose skills complement yours.
    If you hate folding brochures, stuffing them in envelopes, licking the envelopes, and stamping them, not to mention managing that stupid database, hire someone to do it for you. Don't neglect the high school and college students who would be happy not only to make extra money but to have something to put on their résumés.
  5. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
    If you think your self-employed status means that you can work 8-5 with a one hour lunch, I again believe your company is primed for failure.
  6. Don't be afraid to make a decision.
    Too many people agonize over decisions. The lack of a decision is, in and of itself, a decision. You will make mistakes. That's a given. Just make sure you learn from them.
  7. Understand the mathematics in marketing.
    Any marketing venue that breaks even is good, so once you find those, work on making them better, spreading them wider, so that you start to make a profit rather than just breaking even.
  8. Under promise and over deliver.
    If you bid on a project for a Client and tell him that it will take a week, do it in five days. It takes just a couple of times for that Client to realize that you're not only the best, you're the fastest, too.
  9. Know your cost of doing business and price yourself to make a profit.
    I like to make at least 25% profit on whatever I do. You can price yourself for less in the short term (defined as six months or less) as long as what you are doing has the potential to make significantly more than 25% in the long term.
  10. Keep those customers coming back for more.
    Referrals and repeat business are where it's at, regardless of your industry.
  11. Don't spend money unnecessarily.
    Sure, it would be nice to have a brand new cherry wood desk. But that's a want, not a need. Know the difference between needs, wants, and goals, and leave those wants until later.
  12. Dream big!
    You'll probably start out small, but imagine that you're the largest and the best, and then work to make it so.
  13. Be your company's most vocal salesperson.
    Tell the family, friends, church members, Little League moms, even your former business associates, what you are doing and invite them to buy from you.

Now get busy!


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
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Shirley Parks
Sands Realty 210-414-0966 - San Antonio, TX
Broker, 210-414-0966, San Antonio TX Real Estate

This is great and really smart advice, Russel!  I actually just started my own business so this is a timely post for me...

Feb 14, 2010 01:18 PM #1
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Prado Real Estate South - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Put me in coach! I'm ready to play today! Great motivational ideas Russel! Thank you and Happy Valentines Day to you and your sweetie! Oh! And Zoey of course from Hiway!

Feb 14, 2010 01:21 PM #2
David Henke
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc - Newtown Square, PA
Realtor, Homes Just West of Philadelphia PA

What an excellent list.  It is just as important to take time to work on your business as to work in it.

Feb 14, 2010 01:22 PM #3
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

Russel.....good list of common sense facts.....

Feb 14, 2010 05:51 PM #4
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Make sure you stay in touch with all the people you have "touched" with your service so that they will "prefer to refer" and business will grow with the best PR there is....word of mouth...and that can be done from anywhere...blog on @

Feb 14, 2010 09:17 PM #5
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Russel, very good post, you are so right on target with these points. Thank you!

Feb 14, 2010 10:21 PM #6
Carra Riley & Declan Kenyon
Brokers Guild Cherry Creek Ltd - Westminster, CO
Helping people Transition at all ages!

Russel...Your bakers dozen make really good points.  Just realizing you can't do everything yourself make a huge difference.

Cosmic Cow

Feb 15, 2010 02:11 AM #7
Sidney Kutchuk - Realty Works Temecula Kutchuk - Realty Works Temecula
Realty Works Temecula - Temecula, CA
Realty Works Temecula

Russel:  I've made it over the hump then!!!!   I have had my own company for 7 years now!   YES!  It's been tough but I've done it and thanks to my husbands help!!!!   :) 

Feb 15, 2010 03:17 AM #8
Linda Lohman
Fonville Morisey Realty - Cary, NC
Former Teacher/Broker


Sae advice.  Real Estate agents sometimes need to be reminded we are running a business..and all that goes with it. : )

Feb 15, 2010 04:43 AM #9
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

Russel, I think you hit every single nail on the head! Great post, as usual!

Feb 15, 2010 01:12 PM #10
Marilyn Harrell
ReMax Riverhaven - Beaverton, MI
Wixom Lake - Beaverton MI

Then come here! (in reply to your title!)

You're great help even from way over there! Thanks so much! Have a wonderful day!

Feb 15, 2010 11:12 PM #11
Russel Ray, San Diego Business & Marketing Consultant & Photographer
Russel Ray - San Diego State University, CA

Hey, Folks.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I have read all the comments, but since this post is rather old, rather than making comments here in my post to each and every one of you, I'll just let everyone know that I have read all the comments and if there are any questions, I'll answer those below. Otherwise I'll simply post this comment and then head over to your blogs soon to visit and do some reading and commenting. I hope you'll have a nice welcome mat out for me!

Don't forget to let your cat come out to play with all the other ActiveRain kitties. Your cat-friendly dogs can come, too!

If you need a great cat book, get yourself a copy of Peg Silloway's The Cat Lover's Book of Days.

Hope all is well with everyone.

Mar 27, 2010 01:43 PM #12
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Jim Frimmer

Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist
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