Real Estate

How to get off of the transactional hamster wheel

Are you building an actual business or just owning your own job?

Last week, I wrote about whether or not agents and loan officers should be considered entrepreneurs. Spoiler alert! Yes, yes they should, simply going off the definition.

Dustin-Brohm
Dustin Brohm, Columnist

An entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.” However, I believe there’s much more to it than that when talking about the mindset of an entrepreneur.

What didn’t get covered in that article is actually a very important part of the conversation. Quite possibly the most important. So let’s dive deeper, shall we?

Working for yourself vs. building a business

There is a huge difference in mindset – and results – between agents who are simply in it to work for themselves and those who are in it to build a real business. 

When you get your real estate or mortgage license, even though by definition you are now an entrepreneur, you probably don’t act like one. In practice, and in spirit, an entrepreneur is someone who works to build something bigger than themselves. A business that eventually operates without needing their own actions and efforts. 

I haven’t exactly done a scientific study on this, but from my nine-plus years of experience as a full-time real estate agent, the vast majority of our fellow real estate agents out there operate like someone who only owns their own job.

Sure, they’re self-employed, they call the shots, and they take all the risk, but if they ever removed themselves and their efforts from the equation, there would be no revenue generated. No transactions would get closed without the sole operator doing those transactions. 

I believe that an entrepreneur, in spirit, is someone trying to build something bigger than themselves; a real business that does not need them to operate. 

Certainly, the business needs them and their efforts in the beginning, but they are working towards building a true business that will operate, close transactions and service consumers, even if the founder or team leader steps away for a month.

“Do you even entrepreneur, bro?”

It truly scares me how rarely I see my colleagues thinking about this, or at least acting on it. If you call yourself an entrepreneur but make no effort to build a true business that would function without you, are you really an entrepreneur? 

You’re basically stuck on a never-ending hamster wheel. You close one transaction and then if you want to continue earning money and making a living, you have to start all over again the beginning with a new client and do it again. 

So what happens if you are not able to continue working? What happens if three years from now, you get sick, injured, or hurt? Or maybe you just get burned out and need to take a month off. Will your income keep coming in or will it stop the moment you do? For many of you, it’s a terrifying thought. I know exactly what that realization feels like because it happened to me just a few short years ago.

A wise man once said that you need multiple streams of income to have any sort of financial independence or financial freedom. Warren Buffett often says that you should never rely on a single source of income. I don’t know about you, but multiple streams of business income are exactly what I want for myself and my family. I’ll assume you’re not much different.

I don’t want to be worried that if something happened to me, my business would die. I don’t want to keep personally doing transactions over and over and over for the rest of my life, for no other reason other than I don’t have a choice. If we’re being honest with ourselves, I don’t think any of us want that. 

I got into this business for time and money freedom and to build real wealth. If you also aspire towards the same thing, then you have some serious choices and course corrections to make. 

Working on your business vs. working in your business

So then what do you do about it? If you’re now realizing that you actually don’t have any sort of independence or freedom and that if you stopped working, the income would stop too, then congratulations! 

No seriously, congratulations. You actually just made a huge step towards an entrepreneurial mindset and building a business: Awareness and clarity.

Today, we as real estate agents and loan officers have all sorts of options available to build additional income streams that are parallel and/or complementary to what they’re currently doing. I mean come on, the interweb makes anything possible, from pretty much anywhere. 

You don’t have to go start some completely unrelated business. Sure, you can go drive for Uber or Doordash, make your own homemade, err I mean “designer” soap, or open a BBQ food truck called Bits O’ Pig (someone please do this!). But you don’t need to.

From the team structure you choose to the brokerage or company you hang your license with, to the way you market yourself and your brand to the community, there are no shortage of ways to build multiple income streams without distracting yourself much from what you’re already doing.

You could build a traditional real estate or mortgage team, no different than any other sales organization where you build a salesforce, and keep a portion of the deals they close. 

You could align yourself with a real estate brokerage that offers revenue sharing or profit-sharing in exchange for your help in growing the brokerage via recruiting. There are some incredible opportunities out there for those willing to reach out and take it. 

If you have been building your personal brand and influence in your community through content or even through having your own podcast or show, it opens up all sorts of traditional revenue possibilities like ad revenue, sponsorships, product placement, affiliate marketing…etc.

It starts with having an open mind to doing something different, something new. It means you have to believe that “technically” being an entrepreneur is just not good enough for you. It means that you need to start making business decisions to build an actual business.

Developing the mindset of an entrepreneur, working to build a true, self-sustaining business will absolutely change your life. But only if you put those thoughts into action and make it happen. 

We work too damn hard and do too much good for our communities to not have a financial safety net for us and our families if the unthinkable happens.

If this message resonates with you, please, I beg you, take action. Make different choices. Start developing systems and structures that will take the pressure off you.

In the end, if you don’t have a true business that can operate and function without you personally doing all the things, then you don’t own anything more than your own job. 

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