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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Blink! All changed!

Reprinted from a post originally written by GhostbloggerMarie for a client in March 2012.  Reprinted for your enjoyment, as a sample of what great blog content looks like.

 It moves that quickly and often times it changes that drastically!  That is exactly why so many of us find it so exciting, fascinating and FUN to be involved in REAL ESTATE!
One day all the headlines are screaming at us about foreclosures and short sales and doom and gloom at every corner!  Next day, we quietly continue to sell houses to wonderfully “average” people that turn those plain houses into wonderful homes that they enjoy taking care of, sprucing up and participating in their neighborhood block parties from.

Denver is enjoying a bustling summer “season” of sales.  Houses are flying off the shelves, even at prices above the asking price!  I’ve been involved in a couple of auction like “bidding wars”!  I have to admit, it makes this industry a fun one to be active in.  Just when everyone thinks we’re down down down as low as we can go and no hope – we start to soar.  Just like that, in the blink of an eye, everything changes and off we go!

Two reasons for this phenomenon.  One – The “spirit” of the people we serve.  Its been called all sorts of things, but it comes down to this common denominator:  the will to occupy and enhance ‘our own space’.  There just isn’t anything like homeownership.  We start to do things we never saw ourselves doing before.  Building decks, planting shrubs and trees and flowers, cheerily waving at our neighbors who are all doing the same thing.

And two- the “spirit” of Real Estate Brokers.  There is something in us that really wants to see others get busy at number one above.  We believe in it.  We’ve built our lives around “making it happen”.  Yea, I know, there are a few “shysters” in the bucket, there always are in every industry.  But for the most part, a Real Estate Broker honestly wants to see houses filled with people turned into homes.  Dry grass watered, loved and pampered and turned into a lawn.

That’s part of the reason why the “market” has always adjusted in the past and will continue to adjust in spite of all the economic woes nipping at it.  Real Estate is one of those industries that is driven by real people, not commodities and imaginary paper worth whatever someone else says its worth.

GhostbloggerMarie provides exceptional content for the blogs of Real Estate Agents, highlighting their personal strengths, information for the real estate public, and interesting blogs about real estate in general.  Comments are welcome and inquiries into my services are encouraged, thank you for reading.

1 Very good reason all Real Estate Agents should be blogging

Real estate is all about RELATIONSHIPS.  One on one getting to know all about you relating to another human being on an intimate level kind of relationship.  How do you build relationships in a world that’s all about technology?  When everything is online even if you are online how do you make that personal?  How do you share enough with online connections that will turn into personal face to face connections?  Social Media is the general answer, but isn’t there something more specific?  Sure, you can build a following one status update, one tweet at a time, but that is going to take you as long as it used to take agents who made the rounds door to door in their “farm” areas back in the day.

So what is the answer?  Is there a way to engage your audience that isn’t limited to 140 characters, that allows interaction based on meaningful dialog you’ve initiated?  CIO makes an interesting observation in a recent article they wrote about content concerning a magazine John Deere started back in the 1800’s to engage their potential customers and ultimately brand themselves as the supplier of Tractors and farm equipment.   I think they did a pretty good job of it, and I believe the blog as platform on Social Media sites does that same good job for Realtors.

By including a Blog on your website, clients can not only access your site to search for homes, which they can also get on plenty of other sites, but through the blog they can also get personal information, interact with you for questions and answers and by your posts, get to know you personally.  The blog also serves as an excellent SEO tool, as search engines LOVE fresh content and new information.

If you are like most Realtors the majority of your time is best spent out in the market place rather than behind a computer screen.  Although you certainly should contribute personally to your Social Media, a blog about things your potential clients will be interested in doesn’t have to be written by you personally to engage visitors to your site. There are content providers available who provide this service for the busy professionals who haven’t the time themselves.

GhostbloggerMarie provides fresh and relevant blog content, ghost written by this former Realtor and posted to your site under your byline.  Contact me today and start posting fresh, dynamic blog content in as little as one week regularly to your Social Media sites.

CIO article about content

Ethics and the Real Estate Agent

One or possibly two of the misconceptions the public has about Real Estate Agents may actually be based on a little piece of truth, along the lines of  ‘one bad apple makes the whole barrel look rotten’ kind of thing.   Agents take heart – for the general public isn’t so easily fooled and most Agents give them very good reason to see how great the difference and how few and far between those bad apples are.  When I first became a Realtor in 1991 I was proud of  the  Code of Ethics  provided by the National Association of Realtors.  It holds the entire Industry to a high standard the public can appreciate and I believe it also fosters a race to excellence skunksamong the great majority of Agents!  So why do those images of Agents as “skunks” continue to persist?

To some degree that misguided public perception continues precisely because of articles such as these two I’ve highlighted here.  These two headlines are real and are actually taken from stories advocating that Home Buyers and Sellers run from agents, but only after using the agent to find the house they want or gain the information they need.

“Why the Buyer doesn’t seem to trust you.”

Could it be because they are getting bone headed advice like this article goes on to give them?  The writer of this article goes on to claim Agents are no more than self serving lieing scum who will say and do anything and cheat anyone to get a transaction closed so they can collect their commission no matter who gets hurt or used in the process and with no thought for anything or anyone else outside their own narrow selfish interests.

And then this encouraging, happy headline:

“Why You Can’t Trust Real Estate Agents When Buying A House.”

by ________________ (I’m saving this soul from getting hate email by blocking his/her name!)

I should point out however that real estate agents are normally quite useful during the search since they often know more than you do about the general real estate and can get you access to private showings. The other big benefit is their access to sale price information for similar houses.
It’s important to know the market so that you don’t have to rely on the asking price or your agent to tell you the proper market value of the house.

(Italics are the EXACT QUOTE).

After the insulting comment that agents are useful, this boneheaded article goes on to tell you how to use, then dump an agent so they work for you but don’t get paid for their efforts.  Articles like these two which were published online in January of 2013 make my blood boil.  Sure, there may be some unethical agents but they are not the norm!

We cannot regulate everyone’s behavior in this industry since all Agents are by definition Independent Contractors.  We can, however, continue to work together to dispel this false image of the Agent as blood sucking scum.  Almost every agent I know or have met in my years of practice were wonderful, warm and caring people dedicated to helping others find happiness in the home of their dreams.  At the worst those who fumbled a transaction did so out of inexperience rather than malicious intent.  The very nature of the Real Estate transaction dictates the necessity of objective third parties to represent the best interest of the selling and buying parties.

Thank goodness the majority of the public see’s past this kind of crass article as well and recognizes the worth and value of having a knowledgeable source of information working on your behalf during what is often a stressful and emotionally charged time in one’s life.   And shame shame on those who tarnish an entire industry with a brush stroke of such false color.

When was the last time you, the Agent read the Code of Ethics?   It really is  worthy of a fresh reading even if you are not a member of the NAR. Click the link in the article above for a PDF copy.   For the record, this ghost blogger is no longer an active agent or active member of the NAR.  I remain active on the fringes of the Industry, writing articles about Real Estate, and providing blog content for Real Estate Agents to publish on their web and Social Media sites.  The opinions expressed here are my own.  You are welcome to comment and add your opinions as well as share this article with others you think will find it interesting reading.  Subscribe to this blog for updates delivered direct to your inbox once or twice a week.  Thanks for joining in!

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?

Wending my way through Windows 8

Even with all the talk of Windows 8 being so difficult I wasn’t concerned. After all, I had a perfectly wonderful laptop that came stuffed to the gills with software, a fabulous 17.3 inch screen, plenty of bells and whistles and was just barely 4 years old, so I had nothing to be worried about, right?  WRONG!  Who could have foreseen my darling husband deciding to store his guitar in the cupboard over the couch where I’d been working? Or it slipping out of his hands just as he lifted that heavy case above my open laptop sitting innocently on those cushions?
It put up a good fight, I’ll give it that. The screen blinked a few times before the picture went squewershed and a sound kind of like kineftdmgh came forth from it. A trip to every computer store in town soon revealed that the cost to repair outweighed the cost to replace. And then the fun really started.

* NONE  OF  THE  NEW  COMPUTERS  SEEM  TO  COME  WITH  SOFTWARE  ANYMORE
*ALL  OF  THE  NEW  LAPTOPS  ARE  WINDOWS  8 (unless you buy a Mac, but I can’t afford that until a lot more of you HIRE ME to write blogs for you!)

Now I must ask the all important question:
HAVE  ANY  OF  YOU  SEEN  THE  NEW  WINDOWS  8  OPERATING  SYSTEM?

There is a good reason many of the advance reviews have been less than glowing.  It’s more than just trying to get used to a new look.  This baby is a whole different Starship to navigate!  On a PC, those icons are a little harder to work with than the touch tablets, trust me when I tell you this.  The slightest wind, just breathing too close to them and they swoosh to a place far far away in windows land and you may never see them again.  There is no “back” button, no “undo” button, and there are no real directions to follow, either!windows 8

I will admit this much and no more.  In the first day of trying to work with it, it brought me to tears.  Twice.  And I like change, I like trying new things and I  LOVE challenges!  This was beyond a challenge – this was all out war!  My husband kept offering to take it back to the store and pay whatever it cost to repair my poor guitar abused laptop.  How sweet of him, but all that did was make me even more determined not to be beaten but to triumph over this.

Fellow new computer purchasers, TAKE  HEART!

I persevered for three full days, and now I can honestly say I am finding an appreciation for this new operating system.  The keyboard is still a bit too responsive, but I’ve discovered the escape button brings me right back.  In fact though, I do hope Microsoft makes some user friendly changes I can download.  Like eliminating the extra steps it now takes to accomplish what were quick and simple tasks in the 7 incantation.  And for goodness sake Microsoft, would it really hurt you to give us access to all our windows without our having to search for them?

Windows 8 – not easy to use, but easy to conquer if you’re determined!