Sometimes I can’t believe that it’s been 13 years since I started my own business. Other times it feels like it’s been forever. Over the years there have been a lot of things I’ve learned, many the hard way, that I wish I’d learned before stating. Here are my top 8:
1 – Select Hours and Stick To Them – When I started I was really eager to prove myself and please the clients I had. And while inheritably, there is nothing wrong with that, without a set schedule I found I was working all the time. My family, which was the primary reason I wanted my own business, had no idea when I was available and when I wasn’t. After establishing work hours, letting my family know and clients, I also added something like this to my email signature to let everyone else on a transaction know when I am available. Office Hours: M-F 9am-5pm EST / 8am-5pm CST
2 – Keep Things Personal – I knew I needed to have a way to escape business. I didn’t want my old life of being on call 24/7 as a Realtor back in my new business as a Transaction Coordinator. While I didn’t start out this way, I eventually, found a phone service that allowed me to use an app on my phone or my computer to make and receive calls, yet that I could put on “do not disturb” when my work day is complete. This means my family and friends can call my cell and get me, and my clients can leave me voicemails on my office line. I use Dialpad.com or this, however, you may also find Google Voice solves this challenge too.
3 – Backup Your Computer Daily – While my client work was all handled online via the transaction coordinator software, I had many business-related documents that were stored on my computer. Once I had a scare and thought I’d lost everything. After recovering from that heart attack and getting my data back on my computer, I vowed to never let that happen again. I invested in an automatic back up program by Mozy.com and for about $10, a month, I have peace of mind knowing that all important information is backed up and best of all I don’t have to remember to do it. Years later when my computer did actually quit, installing all of my data onto my new one was seamless and easy.
4 – Ask For Help – Oh the redheaded rebel in me had to prove to others that “I had it”. What a hot mess I was before long. Tired, burned out and pretty much ready to quit before I’d gotten too far. The problem was when I didn’t know the answer to things, I spent a crazy amount of time finding it. I was afraid to ask others for advice, for fear I would not be seen as the professional I wanted to be. Boy, was I wrong! Once I started masterminding with other business owners and asking for solutions to challenges I was having did things start to change. My only regret to asking for help is not doing it sooner.
5 – Hire The Right People – This one is sort of a continuation of the previous paragraph. In the beginning of my business, I was the one who set-up EVERYTHING. I did the website, the marketing flyers, the training, the coordinating, the billing, the…… You get the picture. And sure, as the business was getting going, I had way more free time than I had money, but as it grew I could no longer keep this up. In addition, I had countless projects that were started or others that were just in “good enough” status. My first hires were for gigs. Initially, it was someone to help me with my website, then another person to help me get my accounting configured, later someone to help out with graphics. Today I have a virtual assistant and we still hire out for projects.
6 – As a Business Owner I’m in Sales – Oh how naïve I was when I launched my business. I knew that the transaction coordinating services I was providing was valuable to the agents I worked with and that so many others could grow their business with my help. I thought on some level “If I built it they would come.” NOPE, I had to put on my sales hat, often, and share what I did with others. Also, I had to learn to follow-up with those who had expressed an interest and do my best to convert them into clients. To ease my trepidation about sales, I decided I was education them rather than selling them.
7 – Schedule a Vacation and TAKE IT! – Oh, the workaholic I was when I first started out. And rightfully so, it’s easy just to work all the time when you own your own business. After all most of us as transaction coordinators are virtual and can work from just about anywhere in the world where there is a reliable internet signal. Over time I realized that I needed to take my own advise and enjoy some time off. For years I’d been telling Realtors that was one of the benefits to having a transaction coordinator on their team. I started small, a day here, a day there and soon I’d found that I could go almost a week, with someone helping me out, without working. WOW, what a huge difference it made in my attitude and in my relationships of those I loved.
8 – Just Say No! – When I started out in 2005, my initial business was to coordinate real estate transactions. Over time the agents I worked with asked about offering other services, things I wasn’t great at, but that looked like ways to increase the company revenue and keep clients happy. So we began offering listing coordinating, marketing services, post-closing surveys and so much more. Eventually, it was hard to tell what my company did. Was it transaction coordinating, general virtual assisting or customer service? Not only was it confusing to the team and I, it was also confusing in our marketing message. So, we shut down all other services, except transaction coordinating, and began referring anyone who asked for something we didn’t do to a trusted expert in the industry. In addition to making things easier on our team, it also helped our business grow because we became the trusted expert for one thing.
Over the years my business has evolved and grown. I’ve learned a lot, and love to share with others. After all, I need to do something with this Doctorate I have from the “School of Hard Knocks”. If you found this article helpful, please share it with others in the business and be sure to join us at the TC Collective group on Facebook where you can meet, network and learn from other professional transaction coordinators. https://www.facebook.com/groups/TransactionCoordinatorCollective/