From the time I was a kid, I knew I was an entrepreneur, always selling something to the other kids or coming up with solutions for problems. For a time, I worked in the corporate world, then in 1997 I left behind those comforts, and I haven’t worked for another company since.

During this time, I have started three businesses in the technology and real estate investment industries, learning much from each of these endeavors along the way.

I have rehabbed, rented, sold and managed more than 100 properties while also starting an online national co-op designed to help real estate investors save money on materials and access services for properties they are flipping—and to help them grow as entrepreneurs.

I started Community Buying Group with two part-time contractors working in the garage of a property I was remodeling as a rental unit. Five years later, CBG has expanded to 19 employees with offices in historic Downtown Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and two satellite offices on the East Coast.

After 20 years of striking out on my own, I still find myself learning new lessons every day. Here are a few:

#1 Risk is not a dirty word. Calculated risk is even cleaner, but don’t let risk scare you. What’s the worst that can happen? What’s really at stake? Losing time is your biggest risk.

#2 Think big, but build small. Build the minimal viable product (MVP) for testing and, if needed, be ready to pivot from your business plan before you navigate too far on the wrong trajectory. And don’t be so busy that you forget to stop to take a look at results and measure them.

#3 Don’t build products or businesses that people don’t want. Ask people if they would pay for what you are producing. Profit should be at the top of your list if you plan to survive.

#4 Don’t expect to take a paycheck for quite some time, and pay investors first.

#5 Network with like-minded real estate investors and entrepreneurs. It’s best to be the least experienced person in the group; you need mentors. Ask for help. Most entrepreneurs want to give back. You’ll learn much from their advice, even if it’s negative feedback about your business or approach.

#6 Take your competitor to lunch. Think of it like playing a game of baseball against another team. You can be passionate and competitive on the field, but you still can all go out for drinks afterward.

#7 Be a socially responsible citizen and give back to your community. It doesn’t always have to be in the form of a financial donation. Giving your time is important, too.

#8 Have laser focus with a commitment to be one thing. You can’t be all things to all people.

#9 Read books written by other real estate investors and other experts.

#10 As your business grows, your most important investment is people. Many tools are available to help you hire the right team members for your company. Use these tools when making the important decision of bringing on new team members.

One of the tools I recommend for putting the right person in the right seat in your business is the Kolbe Index from Kolbe Corp. The Kolbe A Index isn’t an IQ test, which can assess what a person can do, and it isn’t a personality test, which can assess what a person wants to do. Instead, it measures instinct. It evaluates what a person will or won’t do instinctually.

The Kolbe Indexes can help individuals understand their natural instincts and talents. Unlike personality tests that might suggest what you need to change to succeed, Kolbe focuses on what is right with you and helps you build on how you naturally do things to help you achieve your goals.

For our businesses, we have used a Kolbe-certified consultant to help assess potential employees.

Kolbe can help you not only hire the right people for the right positions, it gives you an opportunity to help employees be more successful by putting them in a position where they instinctually can excel.

When you understand what employees instinctually will and won’t do, you can help maximize their potential, specifically as it relates to behavior in regard to how their instincts drive them in the areas of fact-finding, follow-through, quick start and implementation.

Categories | Article | Operations
Tags | Ben Rao

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