Traditional employment opportunities are not what they used to be and as a result many individuals are making the leap into entrepreneurship. At times this is being done out of necessity, but more often than not; people are in search of something missing from the world of nine to five. The ability to escape a corporate world that stifles creative thought, the pursuit of passion or social impact, the ability to have greater control over when, where and how to work, all combine to create a vision of entrepreneurship that is undeniably attractive. The reality is, however, that while these aspects of the experience are indeed major positives, they come at a cost. Entrepreneurship is extremely hard work and you need to have this mind-set and be prepared both physically and mentally.
With so many talented people taking their chances, the status of the entrepreneur has increased exponentially and this has brought with it an added dimension of pressure that can be extremely challenging. It can feel as though starting and running your business is no longer enough. To survive as a modern day entrepreneur, you must be a master of the art of the pitch, the intricacies of design thinking, social media marketing, finance, professional networking, empathetic management and a host of other 21st century skills. Being successful as a modern day entrepreneur requires everything you have. There is also, of course, the real possibility that you won’t succeed. In fact, the vast majority of entrepreneurial efforts fail.
As I have built my real estate business, with a focus on residential property management, I thankfully have been navigating the pressures of success and taking setbacks as lessons to help improve the future. In doing so, I have found three key principles extremely helpful to handling the pressures that the entrepreneurial experience entails.
Developing dual, but complementary identities has allowed me to create separation between my concept of self and that of my company. Seeing myself as separate from my business has allowed me to manage the psychological and emotional costs of the ups and downs of daily business and conversely helps me to ensure that personal setbacks do not adversely affect my work with clients.
Allowing my self-development to be guided by factors outside of my business also affords me the ability to bring greater outside perspective and skill sets to what I am already doing. Allowing the business to grow in ways that are not always directly in line with my own skills also allows the business to uncover unexpected opportunities and build internal resiliency.
Prioritizing the asking of good questions over possessing all the answers has been critical to my success as it has ensured that all decisions that I make have been informed by multiple perspectives through active collaboration. Ensuring the input of clients, employees, business partners and trusted mentors has allowed me to stay attuned to the market and improve my offering year after year.
Entrepreneurs often fall into the trap of feeling like they must know what they are doing in all aspects of their business. While domain expertise is vital, the pace of change requires an entrepreneur to shift her mindset to leveraging both what she knows and what she doesn’t know by including others in the conversation.
Moving beyond being comfortable with uncertainty and managing with it in mind has also been critical to mitigating risk and setting the direction of my business. Tolerating uncertainty is commonly listed as a necessary trait in all entrepreneurs, but it takes more than tolerance to prepare for both the successes and possible failures of business. In Toronto alone, the real estate market is going through a period of rapid acceleration. Some see the trend continuing into the future while others warn of an impending bubble burst. No one has a crystal ball, and navigating my property management company through this means that I cannot be paralyzed by the opposing views of the future. I must actively manage and stress-test for both scenarios. Building a strategy for my business and myself that is inherently resilient to changing market conditions allows me to pivot as required.
The old adage of look before you leap still applies for would-be modern day entrepreneurs. My additional advice? Look closer. Hard work, high cost and unparalleled pressures reside everywhere you land. Being aware of what they are and how to manage them will take careful investigation.
I kept a diary for the first three years of my start-up journey, captured key lessons learned and experiences that promoted my success. In this series of articles I hope to bring to life this spirit of discovery, drive and overcoming obstacles – ultimately making a difference and providing more value than anyone else in the market place.
Written By: Sabine Ghali, Director at Buttonwood Property Management and an entrepreneur at heart who endeavors to help investors create real estate wealth over time in the Greater Toronto Area. Visit her at www.buttonwood.ca