This is year #16 for me working in the residential real estate business! As I was gathering my thoughts for this blog, I was looking back thinking "yes, I did make the right choice". I feel lucky, because I would not have thought about getting my license until I ran into an old collegue at a coffee shop who had switched careers and asked me to consider joining their team.
So here are my answers to the questions set forth in this challenge:
What do I wish I would have known the first year that cost me business?
I joined a team of three women, who were very important to my development as an agent. I shadowed them constantly. What I wish I would have known was this: solicit new business from FSBOs. As a newbie, I was pretty tentative, thinking I didn't know much (which was true!). However, when I did start contacting FSBOs I gained more confidence and also thought "what do I have to lose here? Nothing!". So I started contacting FSBOs. Many times I got ignored, but eventually did get business from a few of them--one person who I keep in contact with all these years later. I didn't sell her house but she did refer me business!
Did I ever question my choice of career? What caused me to stick with it?
There were times in the first couple of years when I did question my choice. I wasn't making much money and seemed like I put in ALOT of hours, seven days a week, for very little return. My team members did encourage me to keep going though, and stick with it. Also, I felt like I didn't have an alternative--having been laid off from my previous job in 2002, I knew I didn't want anyone else ever to have the power to fire me. I was a hard worker, very motivated and loyal. I knew I was a good employee--and my evaulations reflected that. But it didn't matter in the corporate world. So I applied my self motivation and work ethic to my new career--and it paid off.
What are the three things I learned that positively affected me?
1) Have a positive attitude. In general, I've always been a very postive person, appreciative for what I have and what I've earned. But there are times when I know I made a stupid mistake, said the wrong thing, could have been more motivated to get the business. These are times I have regretted. But instead of dwelling on them, I focus on doing better the next time.
2) Market yourself. When I was on the team, the marketing revolved around the team--not me as an individual. After a few years I realized I needed to make a name for myself and not the team. So I left, got my own website, blog, and promoted myself to customers. It paid off. I work alone, which is SO much more work than having team members to help out, but I make more money and am totally responsible for my own business.
3) Save money from every paycheck. When I get paid, I immediately deposit money in separate accounts to pay for (so many) taxes, marketing, fees, etc. My net earnings are MUCH smaller than the gross amount. However, at the end of the year, I always have the funds to pay expenses and the government. Be disciplined!
I look forward to newbies writing a post similar to this after they experience a year or so in the business!