By Deborah Sweeney
You’ve logged the hours, sat in class or on your computer for however long your particular state has deemed necessary to become a licensed Realtor, and done the required work. You’ve attained a license and have maybe even dabbled in working in someone else’s brokerage to get your feet off the ground. All of this hard work has paved the way for you to bite the bullet and start your very own brokerage with your own hours, selling decisions and staff members in place. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me! But no business starts off that simply, and in order to get headed in the right direction, you’ll need to address the following five areas first.
- Incorporate or form an LLC to legally protect yourself. By incorporating or forming an LLC, you are separating yourself from the real estate brokerage you’re in the midst of creating. This way, in case anything unexpected does happen to your brokerage, like if you get sued, your personal assets will be protected and only the brokerage will be affected. Without this type of protection in place, your own house and other assets may be in danger. On top of being legally protected, having an ‘Inc.’ or ‘LLC’ at the end of your brokerage name adds an air of legitimacy to your new business. You’ll want your customers to take you seriously, so be sure that your brokerage has a strong business name. A professional name hints at a professional brokerage – which you certainly want to be.
- Get yourself a mentor. If this is your first time starting your own brokerage (and I’m assuming it is), then it would benefit you to pick someone who has already been down this road to help guide you through the steps. A professional within the same field who has worked at a brokerage for several years and has a solid understanding of the ins and outs of the business is a great choice in a mentor for your business. You could also work with a successful entrepreneur with a background in real estate. Feel free to have several mentors, too – nobody ever said you had to limit yourself to one!
- Get financial assistance. Opening any sort of business dips into savings quite a bit, but there are services out there available to help guide you in making sure you’re making the right financial choices for your brokerage and working within your budget restrictions. Look for companies that work with businesses and brokerage startups of all kinds to help them avoid taking out a small business loan and instead, use retirement funds to fund a small business with. Real estate may be purchased as an alternative investment inside of your retirement plan as an investment so that you wouldn’t need to take a taxable distribution.
- Find a niche. When first starting out, it’s good to have a primary focus of what you’re offering. For brokerages, instead of trying everything out all at once, hone in on the specifics. Whether you’re selling a specific type of home, from commercial homes to new construction, this will keep your business on track and will allow you to be established and singled out by clients as a pro in that field.
- Excel in customer service! I know that seems like a given, but it amazes me how many business owners get so zeroed in on numbers and revenue that they forget about the customer. Placing the needs of buyers and sellers first will get you far. Great customer service sets you apart from the competition – you can be sure that the positive word of mouth will pay it forward!
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include incorporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA and trademark and copyright filing services. Follow her on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.