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Adapt or be left behind. The often-repeated phrase has long served as a warning to business leaders. It’s a reminder to never rest on your laurels and always evolve with the times. It doesn’t matter what industry your business serves, conditions are constantly changing and opportunities continually present themselves. Being left behind is not an option.
I founded my company over a decade ago. I set out with my colleagues to disrupt the real estate industry by fostering a culture of collaboration that had not yet existed in our business. What if real estate professionals came together, instead of working against one another, to better serve our clients and provide more comprehensive representation? What if we could create a place where agents could enjoy coming to work each day, learning from each other and benefiting from the knowledge and expertise of the whole?
We were successful in disrupting our industry over ten years ago. And we have remained at the forefront of innovation by continuing to advance our mission, adapting quickly to changing market conditions. We are constantly adding to our value proposition for customers and stakeholders alike. So how do we do it? Here, I outline four ways to adapt your business to keep up with the latest advancements in your industry.
1. Define a clear growth strategy
Where is it you’re going and why? It’s vital to constantly define, set and evolve the intention of your business. Ask yourself and your colleagues regularly: What problems are you trying to solve and how are you uniquely positioned to solve them? Growing for the sake of growing is not a thoughtful strategy. Answer the needs of your customers and your industry as a whole. You can then grow sustainably, increasing the return on investment in both the short and long run.
Case in point, the real estate industry has entered the age of consolidation. Brokerages are buying up smaller competitors to increase market share and agent count. To set our company apart, we have set our intention for strategic growth by identifying our market differentiators. We choose quality over quantity in everything we do. We carefully select our partners. We strategically enter new markets with agents and teams who share our vision. And that vision is providing a highly personalized service experience for both our agents and our clients.That’s how we’re able to maintain our boutique environment while growing on a global scale. Find your differentiators, stick to them and growth will come easy.
2. Continually evolve and innovate
This seems obvious, but here is where the specifics matter. What are you adding to your company’s value proposition? How are you constantly striving to add value for your stakeholders and customers? You can’t wait for the next great tech system or business tool to appear. You have to seek it (or create it) for yourself. Again, it comes back to the question: What problem are you solving?
In the real estate industry, it’s been very clear that buyers and sellers are seeking a simpler, more convenient buying and selling experience. While we’ve always been a tech-forward company, we recently acquired a tech-powered, independent brokerage in New York City. Their proprietary systems, partnered with the ones we’ve created, will help our agents offer just that. By providing our agents with a fully-integrated CRM system, data-driven insight and predictive analytics, we can further position them as experts in their fields. Thus saving them time to focus their efforts on advising their clients through the nuances of the market.
3. Always be a step ahead
Being proactive — not reactive — provides a clear path to success. While we can’t predict the future, we can be prepared for the ups and downs our industries are sure to face. Preparing for those bumps in the road ensures you can remain flexible and quickly adapt to whatever comes your way.
For example, the rise and success of real estate apps and systems made it clear to us. Consumers were moving the home shopping experience, just like every other shopping experience, to their mobile devices. We embraced social media and digital systems early on. When home tours and open houses shut down during the pandemic, we were able to quickly pivot our business online in the blink of an eye. Our social media prominence served our agents well as their clients sought real-time engagement, service and guidance. They were buying sight unseen and selling to enjoy their newfound work-from-anywhere lifestyle.
4. Stay true to your founding mission
Never forget where you started. You set out to disrupt, solve a problem and innovate a new way of doing business in your industry. Are you staying true to your mission, the idea that inspired your entrepreneurial leap of faith? What motivated and guided you from the start should still be relevant.
At our company, culture was everything to us from day one. The culture of partnership and collaboration helped us build one connected community. This has helped our agents reach new heights in their business, even as we’ve grown from one boutique office to more than 50 in five countries. With every decision we make, we stop to ask: Will this align with our culture? Our recent acquisition is proof of this. The New York team has the same commitment to service, collaboration and community, putting people before all else. Finding the perfect match to help us grow sustainably and strategically while staying true to our core founding principles was well worth the wait. Begin as you mean to go, stay true to what sets you apart and always adapt to the needs of the marketplace. A winning strategy to not only keep up with advancements in your industry but to be leading the charge.
Related: 5 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs