Goals, Success and Self Employment

Business merry go roundBeing clear about your own needs wants and desires is the only way to being clear about building the success map for your business.  You didn’t go into business for yourself because you wanted someone else setting your goals and direction.  You got off the employee merry go round because you believed you had something special and unique to offer of your own.  You had your own thoughts, ideas and abilities and you wanted to develop them and share them with others.

Here’s your chance.  Differentiate yourself from all the other Real Estate brokers out there, by clearing defining WHAT YOU OFFER.  Okay, I know right now you’re thinking – I sell real estate, what is she talking about?!?  That’s just it, you sell real estate the same as every other broker out there, so what are YOU going to do to set yourself apart from the hungry pack?  How hungry are YOU?  Hungry enough to take the time to PLAN FOR YOUR OWN SUCCESS?

When I was actively selling real estate I developed a system for the houses I put on the market for sale that I offered exclusively to the clients that worked with me.   It was part of my standard service and not an extra or add-on.  They hired me, they automatically received this “fuller service” as part of the deal.   Sellers talk to each other and word got around eventually that there was something more to me than your average agent.   That’s what you need to work on – setting yourself apart from every body else out there doing the same thing and sticking with it for the long term!  It takes more than a day to become a real estate agent and it takes longer than a month to develop a viable business.  But none of that begins to move in any direction until YOU define it, map it out and give it legs to go on!

So get your steps to success mapped out today before you follow one more lead into a dead end.  According to the National Association of Realtors, 95% of agents fail to put together a business plan.  Is it any wonder roughly 70% of agents quit each year?  If you need help getting started, templates are offered by Realtor.com, Trulia, and Active Rain.  Just find the one that works for you and get started building your personal road map to your success.  But don’t forget to include 5 very important activities.

I call them the 5 “F’s”  that need to be included in developing a Real Estate Business Plan:  (these can be very useful in ANY  business plan, really)

Family – let your family be part of the plan!  They know plenty of people so recruit them to help you build business.  Spouses can hand out business cards in their work place and help expand your reach about your real estate business.   While we’re on family, don’t leave out planning family time into your schedule.

Fitness –  building a business, especially in the beginning, is very stressful and exercising on a regular basis will afford long term benefits.  Don’t skimp on keeping fit!  Not to mention the opportunities to farm for business while you’re working out at the community gym.  Solitary activities can still work toward your goals when you plan them properly.

Friendship –  nurturing strong friendships that keep us grounded and broaden our horizons is good for our soul as well as our business.  Develop friendships, like we did when we were kids.  It isn’t just useful in business, it’s FUN!

FUN – speaking of fun, don’t be all business all the time!  Relax, enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Continue with your hobbies and pursue your interests in other areas of life along with building your business.

Focus –  by having a plan in place you should find yourself making the most productive use of your time.  When you have goals for each day, each week and each month you are far more likely to reach them and far less likely to spend precious time on activities that won’t get you to where you want to be.

Now that you aren’t riding the carousel of the “employee” take CHARGE of where you are going with a well thought out plan!  Luck has nothing in common with success except U C it through!

COMMENTS are encouraged and welcomed!  What ways have you planned for your own success that others may find helpful?

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Realtor Resources; Real Help

Realtor Resource

taskrabbit..com

My husband has a tool in his tool belt that he swears he can’t live without called the multi-tool.  It has as wide a variety of uses as a Swiss Knife without all the bulky attachments and in his field as a handyman it has become invaluable in saving him time and getting things done just the way he wants them.  Real Estate Agents and busy Professionals have a tool like that available to them, which harnesses the power of technology allowing them to leverage time and get things done the way they want and need them.

The Virtual Assistant industry does away with the need to maintain offices and the attendant overhead associated while offering the best of both worlds.  Factor in technology and these services don’t necessarily need to be locally offered.  Outsourcing can be done quite successfully right here in the States without state boundaries being a limitation.  GhostbloggerMarie caught up with Michelle Anatasio, owner of  CT Virtual Assistance LLC  for an open discussion about the many benefits a Virtual Assistant provides the savvy Professional.

My company specializes in offering a range of virtual assistant, marketing consulting and concierge solutions to busy professionals, entrepreneurs and small businesses.  Our administrative, creative and technical services can be ongoing or per project basis.    I believe that we are offering affordable solutions and customized alternatives to the need to hire and fund in-house administrative, creative or technical staff.  Our services can be packaged or available a la carte.  We maintain some flexibility in order to meet the need of the client” Michelle shared.

As a value addition to most business models there are three main courses an offsite Virtual Assistant brings to the table:

1)     Relieving clients of tedious administration tasks so they can focus their attention on growing their business

2)     Substantial financial savings

  1. eliminating the costs of onsite staffing
  2. minimizing the need for equipment including repair/maintenance costs
  3. minimizing or even eliminating acquisition and storage of office supplies

3)     Clients receive greater flexibility and reliability for increased productivity when working with  a Virtual Assistant service company

Thought you couldn’t afford the help you need?  You may be very pleasantly surprised to discover that you can indeed afford and receive the help that will free you to pursue greater business growth with a Virtual Assistant corralling those administrative tasks that steal so much of your time.

Your comments and thoughts on this subject are welcome!  

Follow this link for more  information about Virtual Assistance and Michelle Anastasio.

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Ego Balance

ego balanceEGO:  the very thing you absolutely NEED in order to drive you to success and the very thing that will trip you up and cause you to FAIL.  Balance makes the difference.  A balanced ego makes a WINNER.

I certainly don’t always get this right, but once in a while I manage to turn a weakness into a strength, balancing my ego rather than letting it defeat me.  Let me show you what I mean.

When I first began selling Real Estate in 1991 out in Marysville, Washington I found the design of the streets of extreme concern.  I have a natural lack concerning sense of direction, and whoever designed the streets had a lack of continuity problem (apparent to me anyway!).  A street would start in one area then stop with no rhyme or reason that I could fathom and begin again several blocks away and not necessarily in a straight line.  One section here, another section starting again two or three streets over with no way to get straight through.  Needless to say, and in spite of a very good Thomas Map system, I often found myself wandering in search of whatever home for sale I was attempting to show my client.  (This all took place as I said in 1991 – no GPS was readily available and we didn’t even have the MLS system online at this time.  We looked addresses up in books and called to see if it were still for sale.)

I could have insisted on “being in charge”  which would have ended disastrously thereby allowing ego to  trip me up and bring failure.  Instead in this instance, my ego was in balance and I was able to turn this weakness to strength by PUTTING CLIENTS IN CHARGE OF NAVIGATING to the homes we were viewing.  This not only covered my inability in the area of directional functioning, but drew clients into the process, empowering them and ultimately earning me a good reputation as an Agent people wanted to refer others to.

A strong sense of self, a strong desire for success; ego drives these motivations.  A strong ego draws others to you at first, but left unchecked, it can also cause you to drive right over others, wounding them and leaving them anxious to get away from you.

Now, I am no psychiatrist but just a humble people observer.  In my observations I’ve managed to get my ego out of the way just often enough to learn one or two things about people.  One of the things I’ve learned is that we all need helpful little reminders along the way in the path of life.  What observations have you made about ego that have helped or enhanced your business experiences?  Comment and share those below so we can all get our egos a bit more balanced.

GhostbloggerMarie shares observations about Real Estate and business in general.  Subscribe using the widget at the top right of the posts and get articles like this one delivered right to your email inbox once or twice a week.  Interaction is encouraged and appreciated.  Your comments are always welcome!  Thanks for stopping by and come again real soon.

A Broadened Narrow View

BROADEN YOUR VIEW BEFORE YOU NARROW YOUR THINKING.

GhostbloggerMarie sees two distinct ways this sentence can be applied.  (There may be many more, I’m hoping you’ll share others!  Be certain to let us know in the comment section below!)

1.  Narrow thinking may keep you from seeing the fullness of a subject matter.  Take a look at the bigger picture.

2.  Business application:  Take a look at the whole picture before you choose the niche you want to serve.  Seeing the whole field can help choose the small part you’ll have the greater success with.

A simple weekend exercise to keep our muscles flexed for Monday.narrow path

Your turn…..

THE POWER OF REFERRALS

Building a strong referral base is as important to long-term success in the Real Estate business as the actual sale of property is.  Every Agent knows this to be true and yet many never move beyond a feeble “please refer me to your friends” or a very subtle tag line at the end of emails and on the back of business cards.  While everyone across the internet board is busy screaming  CONTENT  IS  KING  I can see where it would be easy for a busy Agent to forget the extreme importance of FIRST  BUILDING  REFERRAL  BUSINESS.   Content is very nice, and will most likely bring you new clients so I highly suggest keeping your blog current with trendy and interesting material and populating all of the Social Media sites you’ve chosen to participate with on a regular basis.  Most important of all, surpassing even that ever-present lead generation idea, is building your referral base.    Here’s why:

referral introductions    A referral builds INSTANT TRUST

Referrals convey INSTANT AUTHORITY

With the AUTHORITY of the referral and the immediate TRUST it allows you, you’ve cut your work in half in cultivating a new satisfied client, who then

also become a source of referrals – IF  YOU  TREAT  THEM  CORRECTLY.  (I’m working on that blog – sign up for subscription and you’ll get it the minute it is written!)

Past clients are one excellent source of referrals, but if you are a newer Agent, that is probably a small pool for swimming in at this time.  There are other ways to duplicate the instant trust and conveyed authority with what I call  THE  INDIRECT  REFERRAL.

An indirect referral is an inferred referral and accomplished by where the lead comes from.  Let me make this point quickly with this example.  When you advertise in the local school newsletter that gets sent home with every student each quarter and read by 93% of parents, there is an implied endorsement of you as the local Real Estate Agent.    Instant, indirect referral power.   If you can get an HOA to pass out even ONE of your business cards, for any reason at all, the implied endorsement stands.  Any time someone in a position of authority or trust gives your card to someone else or puts your advertisement in their publication the authority and trust quotient they possess is passed on to you by default.

Look outside the usual places, which tend to be overcrowded anyway.  People place greater confidence in people they feel like they know, even if they’ve never met you!  Having something in common carries the same weight as an indirect referral in that case.   How might you “introduce yourself” to those who work out at the same gym, shop in the same stores, have children in the same dance classes?  Is there any sort of community bulletin board or way to distribute your business card?

One of the things I’ve always admired about Real Estate Agents is their willingness to help others. Just being a Realtor indicates a strong likelihood you have the kind of personality that finds happiness in making others happy.  In fact, Real Estate professionals are among the top 5% when it comes to giving to charity or participating in charitable acts.  Just being involved in your community is the most powerful indirect referral you’ll find.  You don’t have to be pushy, but do be obvious about what you do for a living.  Then you just may find yourself making a good living at it.

Writing encouraging blogs to inspire and inform real estate Agents is the goal of this former Realtor turned Ghostblogger.   Your input, comments and suggestions are welcomed and valued.  Subscribe to this site to receive all the newest and latest as soon as it’s published.  You can join Marie’s Network on LinkedIn for even more insightful commentary.  Just use my email smmsceo@gmail.com  New invitations are always welcome.  Thanks for stopping by.  Ya’ll come back now, ya hear?

Time for Realtors to think PAY RAISE?

It has always amazed me that Real Estate Agents essentially perform a great deal of work related activities for free.  As a consumer and home buyer I wondered “how did they afford it”?  After I became a licensed Agent in 1991 that question haunted me as I attempted to get my business off the ground while sustaining my home as a single Mom caring for my three sons, pay the Office fees required by the franchise I associated with and keep my vehicle full of gas, which was about $1 something a gallon back then, so I could drive potential buying clients all over creation only to have them call the listing agents number on the yard sign to ask a question and be convinced to sign a contract, leaving me out of it entirely! Had I known then what I know now… I am not so sure I would have chosen any differently as I loved selling Real Estate, but I probably would have prepared a whole lot better. And that’s just one instance where we pay but don’t get paid to do business as an Agent.

Yes, I know there are some safeguards in place, now I know that, but back then as a new agent I was largely ignorant and sorry to report that my managing broker failed to protect me and all the other agents like me.  Things may be slightly different now, but only slightly.  However, this isn’t a piece about the fair or unfair of Agent behavior in what is the Real Estate Industry.  This is a piece to explore if maybe the time has finally come that Realtors should raise up and collectively change the way business is conducted in the Industry between themselves and the client.

With gas prices continuing to rise and no end in sight along with rising office fee structures, house prices failing and many other negative changes that I’ve been observing as I read articles to stay current with the Industry now as a content provider for other Realtors, I am just wondering out loud if the time for real change has come?  I’m not going to try to research every nuance and consideration in this piece.  I just want to get you, currently active Real Estate Agents thinking about possible change in your Industry. People do not value what costs them nothing.  Perhaps a fee for your time and resources is in order?

Before I changed career paths in 2007, many things in the Real Estate Industry had me scratching my head and considering if I wanted to become a crusader for change.  The way commissions are structured appears to encourage  cut throat behavior between agents and rarely fosters genuine team work.  I understand we were all independent contractors and therefore competition to each other.  However, we also claim to adhere to a Code of Ethics.  Just before I let my license expire, I actually had a client call my brokerage and ask for me as they couldn’t find my cell number.  The call happened to be answered by another agent rather than office personnel as it was the weekend.  Instead of my cell number, clearly listed on the Agent Roster of the office, my client was told I was no longer ‘in the business’ and they would list the property real estate for sale instead!  Very devious and underhanded, but not as rare as we’d like to think! Shame on that person, but lets not pretend that happens rarely as we know that isn’t the case.

Even after a sale is made, there remains as great a chance you will NOT be paid nor in any way reimbursed for your actual expenses in bringing the sale about than there is that the sale will successfully close and you will receive a commission check.  In negotiations your commission is often treated as a dispensable item which you may find yourself being asked to “give up” a portion of in order to make the deal happen or you may be expected to pay for things out of pocket that wouldn’t be expected in almost any other industry – all with no consideration of your costs and office fees.  You could take the attitude that I’m whining about not being as successful as you are, or you could consider the idea that change may be due in this industry.

And so, a simple question.  Asked only with the intention of stirring the thought process, not to offend anyone.  Has the time come for Agents and perhaps even the National Association of Realtors that collects fees to represent them, to take on the task of making some serious changes to the way the Real Estate Industry conducts business???

Just a little food for thought from your friendly GhostbloggerMarie.

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