Having a successful venture in the real estate field is rarely done alone. With such a variety of strategies, asset types, and investment styles, only a fool would assume they could win long term, without a team.
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress and working together is success.” – Henry Ford
As I take a moment to reflect on where I’ve been and how we’ve built a strong leadership team, culture, and environment for those on the journey with us, five crucial points come to mind:
My first real business was the real estate brokerage I opened with two partners as I had just left the Marine Corps and was re-entering the civilian world. I had to rebuild a name, reputation and known work ethic after I had been away, mostly overseas, for nearly six years. A big piece of that was transition from the military comrade into an entrepreneurship role, which can often be lonely at the beginning and a bit risky for someone that was in my position.
Within one of my first meetings with my two soon-to-be business partners, it was clear we had a strong vision and nearly identical goals of what we were trying to build. We envisioned a real estate company that had a rental division, fix-and-flip division, mortgage company, hard money lending component, brokerage for agents, and a property management company. Five years later, we are doing all of this and by the first quarter of 2022 we will have the last 10 percent completed with all the companies operating efficiently and making money. We weren’t entirely sure how it would all play out, but we started with one, and as the time came along, we continued to expand while finding other leaders inside and outside of the organization to help us grow.
Early on we identified our core values and I encourage you to take time to discover values that speak to you and your team. We completed an exercise where we put 20-30 values on a board, and we each identified a list of our top 5, compared our lists and crossed off those that didn’t make the cut. Eventually we cut them down to five we all had agreed on. More importantly, we felt that each of us had exemplified those values and that we would honor them. It is easier to stick to things when surrounded by others, but what really speaks to someone’s character is the ability to uphold them in the face of opposition or without someone looking over your shoulder.
Risk and Reward
Each person has developed certain beliefs based on their individual experiences throughout life. Their upbringing, quality of life, and environment shape how they approach certain circumstances. One thing I’ve realized is that you’re unlikely to have the same risk tolerance as those you align with. For example, I tend to be more conservative than those around me and a little less risky than some of my partners. I believe that a good balance occurs when you have a variety, if there can be honesty and trust. I have grown to like the dynamic as we’ve accomplished more with that extra bit of risk than if I was completely in charge of all the decisions, all the time. Weighing the pros, cons, and variables can assist in making a more educated decision and we have to understand that there will always be a risk to anything we do. We can’t let it paralyze us, but we build confidence on each successful endeavor. One does not have to share the same risk and reward style as those around them; I often think that we have succeeded more quickly with the dynamic of the push-pull of personalities versus everyone agreeing blindly.
As our business continues to evolve and reach new heights, I’ve realized that someone’s value may shift and change throughout the course of a business. One who had the most experience, may not necessarily always hold that spot, through the growth of the individuals and business itself. This can bring about changes and possible challenges of where the business needs to go and who will be along for the ride. It can be problematic to think that one person is pulling more weight than the other, and at times each person may feel a little slighted, but in the end it’s an equal shake. There have been times where I knew I was pulling more than my weight and sometimes I was having to shift my role to another area where I felt as if my partners were pulling more than me. You cannot put equal energy into all things so as priorities shift; it’s important to remember that we are all rowing in the right direction, as best we can, and to remain humble and with a healthy mindset to prevent any negativity or bitterness towards others.
We’ve been fortunate to build a foundation of those who are experienced in their industry and have created a partnership around it. One should consider how much experience each person in the mix has. Each of us has come to know enough about the other roles to be dangerous, which is a good safeguard in case things take turns, but we also structure our operations in a way where we can be the authority while keeping a level head. One should always consider themselves a student, but if you’re going into business with someone or creating an alliance, fully understand what each person brings to the table and if that Is a fair trade.
Some partnerships work great, others will fail. When things go downhill early on, it’s been best to cut things off as quickly as possible if the stars are not aligning. Fighting to make something work has never been a good thing for us, and those times caused the most pain. Take decisive action; things won’t always be easy, but you shouldn’t feel like it’s an uphill battle with those who are supposed to be on your side.