As probably most small business owners, I tend to start my conversations about what makes my firm tick – from its humble beginning. So, without further ado… my partner Erik Serras and I launched Ideal Properties Group 11 years ago. Erik was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and as a transplant from my native Eastern Europe, I came to madly fall in love with the borough.
We saw an unmet need in Brooklyn for a technologically innovative firm that focuses on transparency and a sense of collegiality and camaraderie between brokers, crowned with a profound expertise of the area. This was at a time when Brooklyn was seen as a real estate market secondary to Manhattan, but it seems we had the foresight to realize its true potential. So in April 2007, we launched Ideal out of the spare bedroom of our townhouse apartment. Fast forward to today, we have over 250 associates with four offices in Brooklyn and our most recent in Chelsea in Manhattan, and we are continuing to expand rapidly.
Along the way, we faced a number of obstacles and challenges but overcame them through our dedication to the firm, its mission, and its people. Growing from a two-person startup to a small company that has hundreds of associates offered many lessons. My top 5 list of tips to ensure company success in its growth stage?
Invest in Your Talent: Your associates are your biggest asset. It is important to continue to associate a diverse mix of people, who will bring their varied areas of expertise to your company. Focus on those who believe in your mission. People who believe in your company, or your product, are also the faces of your firm and can help fuel you to be even grander and better.
Make Your Product Scalable: Success often takes a long time to build but often, there is a tipping point when your firm will grow rapidly. You need to make sure to have plans in place for this moment – whether you are a B2B or B2C company. Your platform should be able to support accelerated growth, and/or you should be able to turnaround products quickly. Your ability to keep up with demand will instill the market with confidence.
Check Your Ego: As you grow, and see initial successes, you may begin to become overly confident in your product and company. Your ego can be a big advantage but could also be a hindrance. It is important to understand that no matter the industry or field, you will have competition. And no, you will not always be the smartest person in the room. Use your confidence to become more productive and humble, instead of complacent.
Be Flexible: As you continue to grow, some of your views, business models, platforms, etc. will need to change. Do not be afraid of change, welcome it! We live in the business world prone to disruption, and rather than await it with fear, become the galvanizing force behind it, and partake in the new trends. Embrace, adopt, mold to your company’s needs, and grow without abandon (naturally, taking into account your bottom line). Simple case in point? If you think your website or your technology in general are great, think again. Their shelf life is extremely short, and without constant movement, will quickly grow out of fashion, let alone usability.
Others Can Do It Well, Too: White label other people’s experiences and discoveries, without going at it all by yourself. Business requires delegation to grow – without it, you will find yourself always running out of time to experiment or deploy your grandest of ideas.
Starting and growing your own business is hard work but can be extremely rewarding if you are truly passionate about what you do for a living. With the opportunities for stress saturating your workdays, stop and take a moment to smell the flowers! Make enjoying the process on your path to success – part of your personal business mission.