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EXECUTION Starting a service business for real estate agents

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SeanODG

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Hi everyone,

Hope you all are doing well! This is a first post in a process thread. These threads are so infinitely valuable (longtime lurker here-thank you to all who make this forum valuable!) that I hoped to give back by writing one of my own. To be fair, TBD on if I can actually do anything to make this thread valueable. My goal is to keep this up to date for the next few years with a post every week or so. It’s on my calendar so I don’t forget!

Background
I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I studied entrepreneurship at Wharton for business school and worked in management consulting for BCG for a couple more years to learn about business. Most importantly, I met my now wife there!

Here’s the really interesting thing: that’s the number one business school and either one or two consulting firm. I didn’t really learn anything about business at those two. I can make a really A+ PowerPoint presentation though.

There’s no class about how manage a P&L. Nothing about customer satisfaction. Nothing about how to sell.

The entrepreneur classes were largely focused on how to start the next Uber. How to take the path of 0.0001% success rate, competing against millions of smart people, but could get you on Forbes. The exits from BCG send you into a "strategy and analtyics" role at doordash.

Nothing about how to start a really good business, without venture capital, that makes you and your family a few million per year. Nothing about the fast lane. Everyone I graduated with makes a few hundred grand in private equity, but it’s really just the high paid slow lane. And means NYC taxes too.

MJ has played a bigger role in my business life that the fancy education and work experience has. Thank you, MJ!!

Business
The business is fairly basic. I’m planning to provide outsourced services to real estate agents. There are hundreds of freelancers and a few companies doing exactly this. None of them seem like they’re doing a great job, and there are >1M agents in the country, so there should be room for all of us.

Plan for the next month
Today is when things get started! I filed the LLC today and will spend the next month or so cold emailing agents to ask to interview them. I’m going to email agents who represent a wide variety of homes to understand what type of agent is the best customer here

I’m also going to start writing. I’m planning on inside sales until SEO takes over, so getting some good content out there can help to get that going!


A good result for the next month looks like:
  • Filed LLC, opened bank account
  • ~5 blog posts written
  • ~50 realtor interviews, leading to:
    • Understanding of why someone would/would not work with a company instead of a freelancer
    • What are their biggest pain points? How are they being met/not met by freelancers?
    • What would they be willing to pay for someone to solve this problem for them?
 

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MJ DeMarco

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The business is fairly basic. I’m planning to provide outsourced services to real estate agents. There are hundreds of freelancers and a few companies doing exactly this. None of them seem like they’re doing a great job, and there are >1M agents in the country, so there should be room for all of us.

I like the niche approach. You might have something here.

Thanks for sharing your journey.
 

SeanODG

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@MJ Thank you for all you've done for everyone!!!
 

mattierocks

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Interesting! What kind of services? Like transaction related stuff?
 

SeanODG

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That's
Interesting! What kind of services? Like transaction related stuff?
That's right. At least, that's the hypothesis since there's a freelancer market for it. I'm currently in the process of getting in touch with real estate agents for an interview process to find out if that's actually the case though
 

mattierocks

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Gotcha. If you’re talking to agents who do a lot of deals, I’m sure there’s a market for it. That saves them from hiring team members just for paperwork, which gets irritating pretty fast. Good luck and I look forward to seeing your future posts!
 

SeanODG

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Hello everyone,

Not much to report, but I promised a weekly reporting schedule and I plan to stick to it. I'm wrapping up a consulting engagement that is scheduled for completion on Jan 21st. After that time, I'll get started on the business. The consulting engagement (and consulting in general) has been how I've made money in the past and will get startup capital for this business.

I'm planning on depositing ~$10K from the consulting into my business bank account to help pay for the launch of this business. Of that, probably ~$2K will go to a website, probably ~$500/month in subscriptions for different software (Lemlist, Leadfuze, MeetCrystal, Reply.io, Loom are just a few that come to mind).

Regarding action steps upon completion of the project Jan 21st, I'm going to spam every realtor I've ever met to ask for 20minutes of their time, then, at the end of the call, thank them for their time and ask if they know of anyone else I should be talking too. Mentally working on a list now of who to reach out to on this front

Looking forward to it!
 

Johnny boy

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I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I studied entrepreneurship at Wharton for business school and worked in management consulting for BCG for a couple more years to learn about business. Most importantly, I met my now wife there!

Here’s the really interesting thing: that’s the number one business school and either one or two consulting firm. I didn’t really learn anything about business at those two. I can make a really A+ PowerPoint presentation though.

LMFAO



A word of advice for finding a business opportunity by interviewing people...people are usually pretty stupid and very often don't know what they need.

Better to shadow them for a day and ask questions as you watch them go through their day. You'll see opportunities that they don't see.

Go ahead and interview people, but if someone lets you shadow them for the day, that would be even better.

Sounds like you're doing it pro from the get-go, best of luck to you.
 

SeanODG

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Hey Everyone,

Back with another update! I'm still working ~80 hours a week consulting right now, but this is also my last week of consulting so I'll get a lot of time back very shortly.

To that end, I'm looking to fill my calendar for end of January/February with interviews. Back at BCG, we used to use Alphasights to find interviewees for us and then we'd pay them $1,300 an hour. Absolute ton of cash, and I don't have near the budget to do that.

So, I need to solicit interviews myself and I'm doing that by pounding the pavement.

Most interviews are going to be realtors (customers), but a lot of interviews are actually going to be my competitors. The largest competitors I actually have are freelancers. The fact freelancers are so successful actually is why I'm confident a business here can succeed. I'm literally doing exactly what the freelancers are doing, just wrapped in a stronger offering with systems and technology.

But, why would freelance competitors want to talk with me? Because I'm paying them

I went on UpWork and found ~15 people who offer transaction coordination and hired them all. Price ranged from $15-$45 an hour. I'm going to talk with all of them on the phone for an hour Zoom call. I'll ask their strategies, their tactics, what works, what doesn't, etc.

At the end of it, I'll have paid ~$700 for a multi-month head start on my competiton
 

Gabbe18

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Quite interesting thread.
Made me think of another business Smart Alto | An Appointment Setting System for Busy Agents and Growing Teams
I don't know if this relates to you or is even useful for your business but I thought it's worth mentioning
The CEO of also posted a thread on reddit a few months ago where he outlines how he started the business.
You can find it here

Keep working and good luck on your journey! :)
 

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SeanODG

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Thanks for sharing Gabbe!

Funny you share that one actually; Smart Alto is a company I'm familiar with and a very similar business. My company and Hassan's solve different problems, but the target user (high performing agent) is the same person and the cost is a high monthly subscription!

They're definitely an interesting one to benchmark off of!
 

Gabbe18

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Thanks for sharing Gabbe!

Funny you share that one actually; Smart Alto is a company I'm familiar with and a very similar business. My company and Hassan's solve different problems, but the target user (high performing agent) is the same person and the cost is a high monthly subscription!

They're definitely an interesting one to benchmark off of!
Well, I hope the link about how he built his business comes in handy!
 

SeanODG

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are you looking to provide all the services they need?
Hey Daivey!

It's a great question; the short answer is NO.

From initial research and interviews thus far, it seems like realtors who use freelance transaction coordinators right now end up funneling them a lot of basic admin work (update social media, input some online, etc.)

I think it's a distraction and not something I want to focus on right now. We're going to be the best in the world at providing this one, very specific niche service and that's that!
 

daivey

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Hey Daivey!

It's a great question; the short answer is NO.

From initial research and interviews thus far, it seems like realtors who use freelance transaction coordinators right now end up funneling them a lot of basic admin work (update social media, input some online, etc.)

I think it's a distraction and not something I want to focus on right now. We're going to be the best in the world at providing this one, very specific niche service and that's that!
sorry i missed some of your posts in between, and when i read through it i thought you were consolidating Realtor needs into 1 space or so.

so it seems you're targeting a specific niche instead. cool
 

SeanODG

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sorry i missed some of your posts in between, and when i read through it i thought you were consolidating Realtor needs into 1 space or so.

so it seems you're targeting a specific niche instead. cool
No worries at all!! Thanks for asking about it!

The hope is that this specific niche is a large enough pain point that can quickly see some traction. Or slowly. Or, honestly, just get some traction at all!
 

Walter Hay

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It might be a while before you reach the scale of Boston Consulting Group, but I think you have it in you to make a big impact even if you don't get that far.

Do agents have quiet times at similar times during the day? If so I would hit the pavement hard during those times and try for an unscheduled quick chat. I built both of my businesses by doing that, with the secret sauce being an envelope containing: (Business#1 Industrial Chemicals: An offer of a production size free sample) (Business #2 Image Boosting Products: A high quality but irrestible novel free sample)

If the person I wanted to see was "not available" I simply asked the receptionist to give the envelope to that person.

Walter
 

SeanODG

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It might be a while before you reach the scale of Boston Consulting Group, but I think you have it in you to make a big impact even if you don't get that far.

Do agents have quiet times at similar times during the day? If so I would hit the pavement hard during those times and try for an unscheduled quick chat. I built both of my businesses by doing that, with the secret sauce being an envelope containing: (Business#1 Industrial Chemicals: An offer of a production size free sample) (Business #2 Image Boosting Products: A high quality but irrestible novel free sample)

If the person I wanted to see was "not available" I simply asked the receptionist to give the envelope to that person.

Walter

Hey Walter, thanks so much for this tip!

Just to make sure I'm really understanding this (because it sounds like this tip has helped build multiple businesses!!)

Go into the offices during their downtime on the day with a printed out envelope full of detail. If they see you, give them the envelope. If they don't, give the receptionist the envelope

Is that right?
 

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