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July 17, 2024
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Real Estate

How to go from real estate agent to business entrepreneur


The transition from real estate agent to business owner signifies the most exciting of new beginnings.

It’s a journey many of you aspire to make.

But proving yourself as a trusted and respected leader can be more difficult than first thought and, while business ownership signifies a turning point in your career, it’s unlikely to be without unexpected challenges.

Owning and running a real estate agency places you in a constantly changing environment, with many influential factors that are out of your control, including the market and it’s wider economic impact, legislation and compliance. 

In my experience, transitioning from a real estate agent to a business owner in my 20s marked the beginning of a lifetime journey of growth.

I’ve never doubted I took the right path, but that road got pretty rocky at times.

I’ve grown four successful start-ups, plus acquired and integrated three other businesses during my career so far.

Some of the biggest lessons came from the mistakes and failures made along the way.

Interspersed with the successful years of building, developing and maintaining these businesses, there were challenges, adversity and failures to overcome.

But I learnt that none of these are permanent, unless you give up. 

Learn, grow and evolve from your mistakes and they will become your building blocks for future improvement. 

As a real estate agent, your focus is primarily on client interactions and property transactions.

As a business owner, your role demands a much broader perspective.

Learning to manage the intricacies of day-to-day operations, staff recruitment, retention and management, administration and finances, performance, productivity and processes… the list goes on. 

But I believe that the two most important attributes of a leader are having a growth mindset and knowing your leadership style.

Knowing your leadership style can help you build a more inclusive and cohesive team, bringing in people who resonate, align and communicate the way you do, so that you can work together more effectively, build trust, respect and increase self-awareness.

This boosts the likelihood of driving success through your combined core values, goals, beliefs, behaviours, and communication style.

It can have a significant impact on the quality of your business. 

The main four leadership styles (based upon the DiSC profile)

  1. Dominance (D): This dimension measures how assertive and results-oriented a person is. Leaders who score high on this dimension tend to be decisive, direct and task-oriented.

2. Influence (I): This dimension measures how outgoing and social a person is. Leaders who score high on this dimension tend to be charismatic, enthusiastic, and good at building relationships.

3. Steadiness (S): This dimension measures how patient and supportive a person is. Leaders who score high on this dimension tend to be empathetic, diplomatic, and good at managing conflict.

4. Conscientious (C): This dimension measures how detail oriented and analytical a person is. Leaders who score high on this dimension tend to be systematic, logical and good at problem-solving.

Other leadership styles

Extroverted: Leaders who tend to be outgoing, confident, and assertive. They enjoy being around people and are skilled at networking, communicating, and building relationships.

Introverted: Leaders who tend to be thoughtful, reflective, and analytical. They prefer to work independently and are skilled at strategic thinking, planning, and problem-solving.

Conscientious: Leaders who tend to be organised, reliable, and detail-oriented. They place a high value on responsibility and accountability, and are often skilled at project management and process improvement.

Open-minded: Leaders who tend to be curious, creative, and adaptable. They enjoy exploring new ideas and approaches, and are often skilled at innovation, strategic thinking, and risk-taking.

Resilient: Leaders who tend to be determined, persistent, and adaptable. They are able to navigate challenges and setbacks with a positive attitude, and are often skilled at motivating and inspiring others.

Empathetic: Leaders who tend to be compassionate, caring, and emotionally intelligent. They are skilled at building strong relationships with their team members, and are often effective at managing conflicts and resolving interpersonal issues.

Most people have a combination of these styles, but usually one type stands out.

When you know your leadership style, you typically find your natural qualities are the easiest to manage in your business.

My strengths were in communicating, connecting and co-working with my team, building trust and a great culture that was supportive, fun and inclusive.

My leadership style meant the list below were some of the things I was adept at in my years as a business owner.

Analysing this list and checking to see if some of your characteristics are here could help you identify your leadership style and help you move your business forward.

Demonstrating competence: Showing the team that you can handle the responsibilities of your role. 

Being open to learning: Recognising that you can learn from the experiences and wisdom of team members. Listening to their knowledge and expertise, suggestions and advice can help build an alliance with them. It also shows humility and a willingness to grow and develop.

Communicating effectively: Developing strong communication skills to clearly convey thoughts, ideas, and expectations is key to building respect while actively listening to team members and valuing their input. 

Encouraging communication: This creates a supportive environment.

Leading by example: Set a positive example through actions, work ethic and respect, be accountable and support their growth and success. Your team will only respect and trust you if they see you embody the qualities you expect from them.

Building rapport: Investing time and effort into building personal connections with team members is so valuable. Get to know them individually, understanding their strengths and what they want to achieve, and supporting their weaknesses to turn them into avenues of growth. This will show them that you care about their wellbeing and generate trust and loyalty.

Seeking input through inclusivity: Involving the team in decision-making processes whenever possible, considering their perspectives, and valuing their contributions shows that you respect their expertise and opinions, which increases trust and engagement. 

Adapt and be open: Be willing to embrace new ideas, approaches, and ways of doing things. It helps to avoid being dismissive of different perspectives. I loved collaborating and encouraging innovation, allowing team members to contribute their creativity to my business.

Conflict resolution: Address conflicts promptly and professionally to encourage constructive dialogue to resolve issues.

Recognition and appreciation: I’ve never had an “I’m the boss, you work for me” mentality. I am and always will be part of the team. So, celebrating the achievements and successes is part of developing a great culture. Acknowledging their efforts with praise and recognition enhances a motivational work environment. 

Empathy and compassion: Earning respect and trust takes time, especially when leading an older team. Be patient with the process and demonstrate empathy toward any challenges team members may face by showing understanding and support. Recognise that you can’t just come in and demand respect—you have to earn it. 

The challenges

In comparison, the biggest challenges came from a lack of time management, not paying enough attention to budgeting and forecasting, growing quickly and not having a proper recruitment plan in place for a consistent and measured approach to hiring.

And I became too friendly with the team in my first business.

Being young and a people pleaser was detrimental to my ability to separate myself as a leader when needed.

Developing leadership skills, building a positive workplace culture, and aligning team members with your business vision is paramount, and overcoming the learning curve of team dynamics contributed significantly to the maturation of both my business and myself as a leader.

Each challenge I have faced resulted in new skills, new beliefs and more confidence in myself as a leader.

Embracing a leadership role requires the ability to make decisions and overcome obstacles, which pushed me out of my comfort zone, but ultimately led me to become a more decisive, resilient and patient leader.

So, the lesson here is that the more you lean into, rather than avoid these situations, the better you get at doing it and your resilience develops along the way. 

Taking the first step into the entrepreneurial world, where possibilities became goals and opportunities seemed to keep presenting themselves, was the best decision for me in the long term. 

Real estate business owners need self-belief, confidence, persistence, resilience, understanding and a never give up attitude – no matter what gets thrown at you.

Be open to change, willing to learn and accept that it’s not going to be easy.

But it ‘will’ be worth it if you are prepared to work harder than ever before and go in with the unequivocal knowledge that you ‘can’ make it work. 

For those considering this path, my advice is founded in perseverance, continuous learning, and a willingness to embrace challenges.

Surround yourself with a supportive network, seek mentorship, and be open to evolving your approach.

Age or experience should not be a deterrent; instead, leverage the unique perspectives and energy that brings to your business.



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