The Other Hidden Costs of Starting And Running A Business No One Talks About!

Services for Real Estate Pros Retired

"You tell them - you tell them there's a cost.....Every decision we make in life, there's always a cost." -- Brad Meltzer, The Inner Circle.

C O S T.  It is not a bad four-letter word, but it makes most entrepreneurs wince! Sure, you know the cost of doing business, marketing, advertising, and so on.

Most entrepreneurs know about costs and how important it is to control them.

Those are the costs you can see, the costs you can plan for. Unfortunately, there are other hidden costs associated with pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams.

They are not tax deductibles, not easy to identify, and often almost impossible to plan for them. 

So what are those other hidden costs?

Opportunity Costs

Like most real estate professionals, your first year in real estate can be exciting, and you have no shortage of big ideas. You want to learn everything and try everything.

The problem? There is just one of you. Unless you have a fat trust fund to fall back on, you'll find yourself having to make hard choices. 

Selecting the "right" dream to chase can be agonizing. If your business venture fails, and you find that the moment has passed for the one you didn't pursue, you'll find yourself plagued by doubts and questions about "what might have been."

Relationships With Your Friends Are In Question

Friendships are tricky for entrepreneurs, especially when you, as a real estate broker, decide to recruit your friends as new agents.

Wouldn't it be great to invite all your buddies to work with you?

The temptation to do just that is great. Often, this leads to your desire to give them a share of the business because they're your friends.

Numerous examples of great friendships flame out when people start working together. This is even more likely to cause problems when a stake of the business owner is involved. 

Work-Life Balance May Be In Jeopardy

Most entrepreneurs would probably work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, if they could. It feels as though that's what is required to succeed.

Unfortunately, that kind of determination is generally hard on personal relationships.  

Take time to explain or involve your spouse and rely on their good judgment to rein you when you are too focused on the work. Get each other's support in business and daily life challenges.

Your Children Are Important Too

If children are in your relationship, it will become even more critical that you understand how and when to ask for each other's support. Or to solicit outside help to give you both some relief.

Who is going to take your daughter to the dance recital tonight? Your son needs to be at his soccer practice by 5:00 pm. Do you take time off to enjoy and celebrate your children's special events?

Setting priority will become an inevitable task you cannot ignore.

Take Care of Yourself

You live and breathe 24/7 with your enterprise on your mind. The market is changing. Business is slowing down, and it's another month-end.

What about the new clients? No worries? You worry—all the time!

Take a break. Spend a few hours doing something you enjoy. Simple things. Go for a long walk. Exercise. Play sports. Read a book. Meditate. Recharge your energy. Let your subconscious mind work for a while.

Final Thoughts

None of these costs will appear on any balance sheet or be monetized. But that doesn't stop them from being incredibly important to monitor. And these are things most entrepreneurs may want to consider carefully before and after taking the plunge. 

"Save space for people who matter." --Warren Buffet

Posted by

I have wandered from a vibrant corner of the world
to the majestic Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
I am now retired after a successful career of 22 years as a real estate pro.

I am ready to pursue my lifelong passion for writing!
I invite you to follow along in my new journey via the posts on
my new writing website, "Written by Aura Alex".
Be sure to also follow my Facebook Page
so you will see when I add new content.

— Aura Alex


Comments (53)

Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

We all have the same 24 hours in a day ... we must spend them wisely. Once spent, they are gone. In the end, it is our loved ones that matter most ... not the stuff we accumulated.

Sep 08, 2022 07:11 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Aura,

Great points, and congratulations on the feature.  Work/Life Balance is so important, and those who are young and just starting out need to explore those hidden costs.  Like many, this is a second career for me, but real estate has been in my blood since I was a teenager. So, I am doing something I love, and I understand all the costs involved. 

For many who try to start a career in real estate, all they see is the "big bucks" of the commission. Those people who see nothing but that usually wash out because they don't understand the hidden costs that are involved.

Sep 08, 2022 07:57 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®
Carmel by the Sea, CA
Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea

You make so many excellent points.  Just about everyone I know has at least flirted with the idea of going into real estate.  And, yes, they see the dollars and not reality which you mention above.  For me? It's become a lifestyle with wonderful clients who have become friends.  When people ask me about "retirement" I tell them this IS my retirement.

Sep 08, 2022 09:39 AM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Solid and sound advice for anyone who is thinking about starting their own brokerage.

Sep 08, 2022 03:10 PM
Aura Alex
Seattle, WA
Retired Real Estate Pro

Thank you, Myrl Jeffcoat, for the feature. I appreciate your continued support.

I hear you. I wouldn't do it again, either! I had a similar situation where I thought I couldn't afford to lose a client. I think we all did something we would rather forget. But that is part of the learning to stay in business. 

Sep 08, 2022 06:53 PM
Aura Alex
Seattle, WA
Retired Real Estate Pro

Hello, Kalene Bagwell. Thank you for your read and comment. 

I can remember many times when my life was out of balance. The first two years were tough. Staying focused has helped me stay in business and it was never easy but doable.

Sep 08, 2022 06:58 PM
Aura Alex
Seattle, WA
Retired Real Estate Pro

Diana Dahlberg 

I love your words! So true. We all have the same 24 hours in a day ... we must spend them wisely. Once spent, they are gone. 

Thank you.

Sep 08, 2022 07:01 PM
Aura Alex
Seattle, WA
Retired Real Estate Pro

Hi,  Sheri Sperry - MCNE® 

I know many agents leaving real estate during the Great Recession beginning in 2007 because they were unprepared. They could not return to their old job before real estate and had to change careers and take lower-paying jobs. Those who were able to withstand the wave flourished!

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. 

Sep 08, 2022 07:23 PM
Aura Alex
Seattle, WA
Retired Real Estate Pro

Thank you, Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®, for being here in the comment section.

I almost lost my teenage daughter (she barely graduated high school) during my new career in real estate. I hardly had time to be with her. I learned my lessons the hard way, and that was an expensive lesson. Luckily, she turned out OK!

I love that you see this profession as a "retirement." All the best to you!

Sep 08, 2022 07:34 PM
Aura Alex
Seattle, WA
Retired Real Estate Pro

Thank you, Dr. Paula McDonald for stopping by and commenting.

Enjoy your day!

Sep 08, 2022 07:35 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Aura loved your post but I must admit your closing sentence from Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffet is just so powerful I will have to re quote it in my comment here:


"Save space for people who matter." --Warren Buffet

Sep 08, 2022 11:13 PM
Aura Alex
Seattle, WA
Retired Real Estate Pro

Endre Barath, Jr. 

Isn't that true? Why do you spend so much time working hard all your life if there wasn't anyone there to share success and happiness with? That makes everything worthwhile.

Sep 08, 2022 11:24 PM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Aura,
I'm finally getting back in The Rain this week after back surgery on Tuesday. What a great topic for a post. There are so many costs that can't be counted in dollars but are absolutely real.  Your article reminds me of  a very profound quote by the late Jim Rohn:
"We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons." 

In a way, the various "costs" of doing business are the same. The non-monetary costs can be the most burdensome. I, for one, never wanted to suffer the pain of personal regret in exchange for the "success" of my business. As they say, money doesn't buy happiness.


Sep 09, 2022 03:15 AM
John Marshall - FORE!
LoKation Real Estate - Cherry Hills Village, CO
Specializing in Golf Course Properties

Aura Alex Great stuff here, thank you. As an Employing broker the first thing I tell new agents is they are not salespeople, they are business owners and there are costs of doing business - I have even put together a flyer called "The Hard Costs of a Career in Real Estate" which is something I give out to every potential agent I meet with, so they understand fully what they are getting into. 

But yes, there are additional hidden costs that you mention that all "business owners" need to be aware of.


Sep 09, 2022 08:40 AM
Aura Alex
Seattle, WA
Retired Real Estate Pro

Carol Williams 

I am so glad you're back in the Rain. I knew you were going into surgery Tuesday, and I will share with you my experience staying in the hospital when we can laugh and cry at the same time another day. 😂

Yes, to every word you said. Those costs are real, and some have adversely affected our lives and careers. Not many dying people say they wish they had worked longer hours!

Sep 09, 2022 11:57 AM
Aura Alex
Seattle, WA
Retired Real Estate Pro

I am delighted, John Marshall - FORE! to see you in the comment section. 

I met with the second broker who taught new agents the same way you do. And I was so thankful to him. Before getting my license, I had my real estate investment business, and I never once thought working in real estate was a job. Far from it!

Thank you for sharing your thought. I love that my posts bring new AR members to comment. I appreciate your presence.

Sep 09, 2022 12:06 PM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

One thing I will always remember about starting in real estate,--I put in A LOT of hours that I didn't get paid for.  Probably true with most self employed pp!

Sep 10, 2022 09:15 AM
Aura Alex
Seattle, WA
Retired Real Estate Pro

Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR 

I, too, was guilty of putting in so many hours as a self-employed business owner (I didn't keep my real estate license after eight years and branched out to a few businesses in the RE industry). Sometimes we get paid long-term instead of getting a check in the mail. 😉

Sep 10, 2022 09:59 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Aura - many of these costs occur in family business.  Sometimes friends and family are not the best choice. And work life balance is something I have worried about when always going.

Sep 12, 2022 08:19 AM
Aura Alex
Seattle, WA
Retired Real Estate Pro

For some unknown reason, I missed your comment. So sorry. 

Grant Schneider, I learned a long time ago that friends and family are not the best choices for being in business. I have seen both husband and wife teams in an unsuccessful enterprise and the opposite. 

Sep 28, 2022 09:31 PM