On Your Own
In the previous chapter, we discussed the options that are open to appraisers once they have their certification. Have you decided to work for an appraisal firm? Well keep reading because there are aspects of ownership that can benefit an employee or subcontractor as well. In this article, we will be talking primarily to those who choose the route of business ownership.
Business Owner Skills
You never know when you will be learning the skills that are used as a business owner. Some of you may learn best by taking specific classes that are geared towards managing a business. Others may learn by observing the styles and techniques that our employers use and saying to ourselves,” that works, or that doesn’t work”. I guess there could also be those who may have a mentor or coach that guides them along their way. Whichever way you learn, there are certain hard and soft skills that you will need in order to be a professional business owner.
Let’s start with the office. Whether you are working out of your house or at a dedicated office space, you will need to have at least a basic understanding of the following areas: time management, organization, customer relations, accounting, accountability, marketing, technology (which we’ll cover in a later chapter), and goal setting to name just a few. I won’t be going into depth on these topics; instead I’ll be discussing each one as to why they are important.
Time Management/Organization- As a professional, your business must be structured in order to effectively use the time that you have available both at and away from work. Some of our customers demand a very tight time table, and we need to be able to deliver and project our production with a degree of accuracy. I hope by this point that you are comfortable with keeping a calendar for your appointments, but you also must balance the time that is needed for the other aspects of the business, such as accounting, marketing, meetings, etc. To be able to do this requires the ability to multi-task, but don’t get too many irons in the fire that will cause you to be scattered to the wind. In order to work efficiently, you must be organized. Keep your files, databases, calendar, backups, and procedures up to date, because you never know when you are going to need to quickly access a piece of information. Another aspect of organization is how is your business model organized? What are your products? Who are your customers? What is your revenue model? What is your competitive advantage? What is your supply/service chain? All of these areas need to be considered.
Customer Relations- As a business owner, you not only have customers in the form of your clients, but you are now a customer! You will be a customer to the subscriptions, software, and other businesses that keep your business running. Let me give a little advice here. Be pleasant, courteous, respectful, mindful of other’s time, thoughtful of what you say (saying or typing the first thing that comes to mind can get you into trouble), and professional when dealing with or as a customer.
Accounting/Accountability- Some of you may decide to outsource this service to an accountant, do it in-house, or a combination of both. Either way will require a basic understanding of accounting in order to answer questions from your accountant, or make financial decisions. Accountability comes into play when we are expected to maintain the confidentiality of personal and private information of our clients. It also comes into play if you will be handling escrow funds or retainers. Lastly, by being accountable to partners and employees, it produces confidence in your leadership ability.
Marketing- If your marketspace and or marketplace does not know you are there, how will you get business? Take time to develop, implement, and adjust a marketing plan. When I started out, I read a book called Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson. Jay’s book is great for businesses that are getting started and or those on limited funds. Also take the time to do some research into Ecommerce. This is a multi-billion dollar industry that could have an effect on how you market. Try to be marketing on a regular basis, because you never know when you will need to increase or decrease your customer base. While we are on the subject of customer bases, a diverse customer base (needing multiple services) that is spread out over different markets should produce a more stable income when compared to a focused customer base in one area.
Goal Setting- You’ve got your plan, and you are working your plan, but how do you know if or when it needs to be adjusted? This is where goal setting comes in. This is one of those subjects that some people just love or hate. Goal setting can be broken down into three main areas: short (1 to 6 months), intermediate (6 months to 2 years), and long-term (2 to 10 years). Each area should have sub-areas that consist of every aspect of your business (revenue, customers, accounting, marketing, technology, expansion, etc.), and the sub-goals should be well-defined, attainable, and have a time frame. Goals should also be evaluated on a regular basis which is where the adjusting process comes in. The evaluation of a goal may reveal that a previous course of action is not working, therefore necessitating a change in your plan.
Conclusion- Well, we are almost there. Our next installment will be our final chapter which will cover technology in the appraisal industry. If you have enjoyed this article, feel free to visit our Facebook page, press the like button and leave a review. Reviews can also be made on this website under the review tab.