The 5 biggest challenges for small businesses

Opening your own agency is exciting and rewarding, with the kind of freedom that a 9 - 5 job working for someone else can never give you. But like any new path, there are plenty of twists that could take you the wrong way, and knowing what’s coming your way can be a big help. So, whether you’re just getting started in real estate, or already have a growing roster of agents, here are the five biggest problems that small businesses face and how to overcome them.

1) You can’t find enough clients to keep you afloat

This is the one worry that keeps most small business owners up at night, but it’s probably the easiest to overcome. True, if you don’t have any clients, you won’t have a business for much longer. But the real problem is not finding the clients, but helping them find you.

Solution: Create a presence

Spend time on your Internet presence, and make sure that your website and social media pages are up-to-date. Create regular posts online about the topics your clients are interested in, and you’ll have clients coming to you before they even know they need help in the rest estate market. Whether it’s YouTube, LinkedIn or Instagram, carve out a time and space to highlight your expertise and demonstrate how you can help. And before long, you may have more clients than you can handle on your own!

Pro tip: Keep your clients coming back

Offer flawless service, and really make sure you’re listening to clients and meeting their needs. A happy client is a returning client.


2) You don’t have enough help

When you’re just starting out, it’s hard to imagine that there will come a day when you’ll have so much work that you’ll need to start hiring people. But when that day does come, it may seem like no one can do what you do.

Solution: Get specific

Approach your employee hunt the same way you would approach a client marketing campaign: with excellent targeting. If you are precise about the job – including what days and hours will be worked, and what wages and benefits will be paid – you can save yourself a lot of time by pre-qualifying candidates through exclusive help wanted ads that will weed out anyone not right for the job. What’s more, take the time to gather real references who can honestly attest to their work ethic and potential – in the specific scenarios your candidate will be working.

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Pro tip: Think long-term

Before you make an offer, ask the candidate what it will take to keep them employed with you for the long haul. Provided they do a good job for you, you’ll know what kind of rewards they’re looking for, and you can plan accordingly.


3) You can’t balance perfection with progress

If all goes well, you may find your business growing more than you expected. But, if growth means sacrificing quality or compromising your standards, you’re likely to find your bubble bursts quickly. The key is to recognize the difference between growing pains and sloppy details.

Solution: Scale up the quality  

Don’t forget what made you a success in the first place: Your expertise and your incredible service. When it comes time to grow, start first by thinking how those two traits can expand. Establish clear quality control models for these, and make sure that everyone in the office, especially new hires, are accountable for the quality of the tasks that they perform. The good news is, once you start measuring performance you’ll find even more ways to strengthen your brand.

Pro tip: Embrace change

Even for companies that haven’t been around long, change can be frightening. But don’t get stuck in the past. Take advantage of your size and agility, and remember: The smaller you are, the faster you can turn things around!


4) You don’t have enough time to do everything

Many people dream about giving up a day job to start a business, not realizing that a business means they have to do ten or twenty day jobs – plus nights and weekends! – just to make that business succeed. And there never seems to be enough time for it all.

Solution: Worry about the years, not the hours

You won’t meet any of your goals if you don’t identify what they are. Create a list, starting with your lifetime goals all the way to your specific day-to-day tasks. Eliminate any tasks that don’t match your goals, and delegate any tasks that do not absolutely have to be done by you. This may seem counter-productive (“I’ve got too much to do to spend time planning!”), but it couldn’t be more critical. The biggest reason small businesses fail is lack of proper planning. Treat your small business as if it’s a large one – by creating a strategic plan and a detailed budget – and before long it will be one.

Pro tip: Ask an expert

You recommend professional services to anyone buying or selling a home, so take your own advice when it comes to your business. A lawyer or accountant may seem costly at the beginning, but they will pay off in the long run.


5) You can’t maintain your passion for the business

Everything is fun when you’re just getting starting. But long hours are... long. And worry along with the pressure to perform can beat down even the most passionate business owner. Add to this poor diet and self-care – not to mention way too much coffee! – and it can seem harder and harder to get out of bed every day.

Solution: Ask yourself “what is the why?”

Once you stop focusing on your purpose, things start to go downhill. Instead, remind yourself why you started your business in the first place with a keepsake or a memento that you can see every day. Maybe it’s an empty birdcage to symbolize the day you set yourself free from the 9-5, or a framed picture of the first clients you helped. But remembering what you love about your business will help keep you inspired day in and day out.

Pro tip: Practice patience

Never forget that the big winners are usually just the ones that held in there longer, and kept going when everyone else quit and went home. Hang in one more day until tomorrow, and you’ve already beat the others who gave up today.