The big question on my mind as I arrived at Real Estate Connect New York in January this year was, “What can I learn to make the big leap this time?”
I’ve been asking myself that same question for the past two years. I felt that my business was stagnating. I was getting results, but not the ones I wanted and worked so hard for. I knew something needed to change, but I kept looking outward for answers.
Then I heard Jonathan Aizen of Amitree, who spoke on one of the panels at Connect, say, “You have to be willing to be wrong and uncomfortable.” Until this year’s conference, I wasn’t ready to admit that I was making some bad business decisions. I was focused on seeing what else I could add and not what I needed to change.
The major issues on my mind were my full-time assistant (I am a control freak and terrible at delegating), my marketing (I knew I should be trying new things, but was paralyzed by which new things to try) and discipline (mostly concerning time management and work-life balance as a single mom). I knew I could do better, but I was overwhelmed and bogged down in working in my business. Working on my business added a layer of complexity that, quite frankly, I wasn’t ready to face head-on.
Part of the problem was also trying to manage information overload — and this time, Real Estate Connect helped me distill it one and for all. There really are no magic shortcuts. The shift has to come from within you. It sounds clichéd, but I truly had an “aha” moment. I needed to step it up a notch and become more focused, determined and disciplined. As Gary Keller wrote in his book “The One Thing”… it was time for me to “get small” in order to “get big.”
This year, I took the conference as “me” time. Usually I commute back and forth from Maplewood, New Jersey, for Real Estate Connect, but this year, the blizzard gave me a (guilt-free) excuse to get a hotel room for the entire week. This gave me time to be still and ask myself some tough questions. It was time to rip off the Band-Aid.
I came home from the conference and rectified a lot of what I was doing wrong in terms of growing my business. Here are three significant changes I made:
1. I fired my assistant. She is an amazing, smart and loyal person, but I was not using her to her potential, and I felt like she was my (expensive) professional “bling.” If I had an assistant, that meant I was doing OK. Well, I wasn’t, and I was in complete denial. At this stage in my career, I should not be allocating my budget to an assistant.
It took me way too long to come to realize this, but I am glad I did. The Monday after the conference, I sat her down and told her I had to let her go. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do so far in my business.
2. I signed up for coaching. I learned that your business can take on a life of its own. If you don’t monitor and track it consistently, you are just walking blindly in the dark. I needed to tighten the reins. I’ve signed up for professional coaching, and it’s been the real kick in the rear I needed. I have set priorities and committed to them. Coaching will keep me on track.
3. I invested in some new systems. I am committed to making the best use of my time and working smarter (leveraging systems) and not harder (because I want a more balanced life and to be present more for my son). So I’ve committed to a few systems, and I hope in six months to a year that I can report back and say they were the right decision. My choices about which systems to use was based on seeing these vendors and businesses year after year at Inman — and hearing positive firsthand and off-the-record testimonials from agents using them. It all comes down to “know, like and trust,” and Inman gave me a trusted forum in which I could make those decisions.
Looking back, I don’t know why I agonized over every little decision. This year caused a dramatic shift for me. It helped me mature as an entrepreneur. And I’m confident that these decisions will help make 2015 my best year to date.
Caroline Gosselin heads The Gosselin Group at Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in northern New Jersey.