My Experience with the F-Word
Let’s talk about something that most people immediately react to when they hear it. The F-Word. No, not that F-Word. Failure. There’s a statistic in my business that 80% of Real Estate Agents fail within 2 years. Think about that, 2 years. 2 years is all it took for this business to take someone’s spirit, chew it up, and spit it out. As an agent that’s a year into the business with but 1 transaction under their belt, and many “almost” transactions, I’d like to talk about my experience with failure and learning to face it head-on without fear of that statistic.
Allow me to provide a little background. I’m a 22-year-old Real Estate Agent who moved to Colorado, my current place of business, at 19. I moved from Ft. Myers, FL with what little I could fit in my car and drove to Dallas, TX in one sitting (19 hours.) The next day I drove to a small valley town in Colorado where I spent the next month or so. I found a job in Colorado Springs and later moved to be closer to the job. I slept on a couch in the basement for 2 months, and the following 8 months on the floor of someone’s apartment. It didn’t take long to figure out I wanted something different for myself (and my girlfriend whom I met while I was sleeping on the floor.) I got into Real Estate a few months after moving out of that apartment. I ended up finding the best office I believe I could ask for. I quit my job and failed my Real Estate exam 7 times, and no, that’s not a typo (each time was close though). Three days into having my MLS access I had my first client under contract, but I had no income due to quitting my job. I was also so new to a new career, in a new area with absolutely ZERO sphere-of-influence, with a limiting belief that I am NOT a people person, and no income to pay for ads to meet people at scale. I think we can both do the math that it was a recipe for failure. Once that deal closed, I was too scared to spend the money outside of bills. That fear then snowballed to where we are today, 1 transaction in 2019, 0 transactions 8 months into 2020.
I will say that as an agent you have the opportunity to join a team. However, I knew I wanted to be a solo agent and build my own team in the future. There were really only a few teams that I was interested in potentially joining. And none of which were hiring, unfortunately. The bright side to this, regardless of whether or not a team was hiring, those on the team or even the owners of the teams learned who I was quickly. They were more than willing to share some of their “trade secrets” to help me out and provide guidance. A lot of the information given, I didn’t truly understand how to implement it into the business. Because I didn’t have a sphere, and I was still in the process of learning how to interact with people. So before we go on, I would like to acknowledge that the reason I’m in my situation is strictly my fault and the following is my experience learning that and growing from it.
Not long after submitting an offer on one of 6 homes that I showed my client, someone in the office was kind enough to sponsor an 8 week class on mindset in the business, BOLD, Business Objective, a Life by Design. I’m still in debt to that agent, and I’m very grateful for the experience. No, I didn’t forget, Dan. The class provided an extraordinary amount of information that I was just too green to digest and implement properly. Looking back on my binder though, I understand what was provided a lot more. During the class, you had to meet a goal of meeting 100 people every week (contacts). A contact was someone you held a two-way conversation about real estate with. I was hosting open houses, albeit they weren’t very successful, I was attempting to doorknock. I was attempting to cold call, but I didn’t have accurate information. I was attempting to do all of these things, however, fear and limiting beliefs, lack of confidence, you name it, ultimately got in the way of my would-be success. I had to learn how to conquer my fear.
I’m currently faced with a weird dynamic of feeling immense regret, and simultaneously feeling grateful that I haven’t seen the success I expected to see by now. The reason is, that lack of success or failure to some (including myself) had a plethora of lessons. Those lessons took COVID-19 to hit for me to see them. Those lessons were that I am a people person after all, that I am capable of finding clients through running ads, and most importantly I do provide value. I struggled immensely with the whole “why would anyone use me” issue. I started asking people what they thought of me, both now, and when they first met me. The response to this question was remarkably similar across the board. People appreciate that I’m me, and I do everything in my power to help those around me. Then it clicked, I don’t need to sell people on why they should use me, I never wanted to do that. I just need to be myself and provide value through knowledge and compassion.
While going through this epiphany, for the last 8–10 months I would help other agents in the office with open houses, inspections, and showings. This is where I learned that I not only loved this business, but also provided the value I thought I was missing, and that I am more of a people person than I thought I was. When places began hiring again, I decided to put that to the test. Obviously with no income, and two maxed-out credit cards, I’m at a point of survival. I found a part-time job at a local grocery store. Once I learned most of what I needed to, I found I really enjoyed interacting with customers. I started to use the following script after making some brief conversation.
“Hey, I’ve got a quick question for you.”
“Go for it!”
“When I’m not working here, I’m a Real Estate Agent, who do you know that’s looking to buy or sell real estate?”
Through this, I ended up meeting a lot of nice people, who were very open to that conversation. I got a lot of no’s and a few people who were, or knew people looking to buy or sell. The caveat was they knew an agent. This was a nice experiment that reinforced the fact that this business is a numbers game. But most importantly, people don’t care. They are open to having a conversation with you, they are not interested in being sold so just leave it at that.
What’s written above is a culmination of experiences with what seems like failure on the surface. I know it’s brief, I wanted to keep the most recent revelations in the story, and not have what should be an article become a life story. I hope I was able to shed some light on the world of real estate as a new agent starting from quite literally the ground up. It’s my intention that this article could be related to anyone starting a business from Ground Zero who believes that they’re alone in their struggle. I hope this story provides value to you, or someone you believe needs it. When I mention I had a lack of confidence, I mean I went as far as to say “I won’t be successful because I have a basic name.” I mean honestly, I just recently got over that belief too. I want people to understand that adversity is the foundation for success. It doesn’t matter if you’re struggling in school or struggling in work and business. At a certain point, you could probably label what you’re experiencing as resentment. I know I did. I loathed myself for not doing the things I needed to do at the start of entering this world. The thing is, the F-Word is a substitute for another word. Quit. You can only label something as a failure if you walk away from it. I would label myself as a failure if I had the intention of quitting real estate. I have the intention to learn from what I’m going through, and so should you. So the next time you hear something along the lines of “80% of Real Estate Agents fail within 2 years.” Replace the word fail with quit and your perspective changes. Everything changes.