Last week, I opened my own brokerage. I like to think of it as the most independent independent brokerage around, and instead of naming it something cute and witty, I went with Boardman Realty.
The day after I opened my new company, I decided I had made a big mistake and wanted to take it back. I guess I was just experiencing some first-day jitters.
The move changes my mailing address by one number, and I have a new general office phone number that goes to a Google voice-mail repository and sends me a text message with the voice-mail message. I also have a company email address, which forwards to my email. Both moves serve to put that extra layer of technology between me and anyone who might actually want to communicate with me so that I am more company-like and less like an individual.
I tried to explain my new company to some clients who I am currently working with, and they just don’t understand the whole independent contractor thing or exactly what it is that a real estate company does. They just want to know that I will be there for them.
The day I opened my new company, I was asked about my logo by friends and colleagues. I don’t have a logo, and my signs are white with black letters and a red stripe that is the background for the words “for sale,” which is displayed in white text across the top.
The logo question surprised me, and it keeps coming up. I took a close look at the logos of the popular national brands, and I have to say that the only one I like is the Re/Max logo. In the future, I may choose a shape that looks like a house … or maybe a picture of a beach ball as a logo because I like beach balls.
There are people who won’t start a company until they have a logo and what I call “paper marketing collateral” all printed and ready to go. It is possible that one day I will have a logo, just like everyone else, but I won’t let my lack of logo slow me down or hold me back.
I did a little research and found that there are several prominent companies that don’t have logos. Craigslist and Etsy are two of them. Ultimately, my business is a service business, and my brand is an abstract concept. I need a logo that communicates the concept — and, yes, I know people and companies who design logos.
Two days after my business became legal and official, I started recruiting agents. I am looking for intelligent, creative, successful agents who are comfortable with the idea of using a non-real-estate-related collaborative business as an office and in conducting business in ways that are more like the future instead of like the past.
One of the agents I talked to told me that another real estate company offered him an iPad for signing on. That pretty much ended the conversation for me. Why would I want to bring on an agent who doesn’t have an iPad?
Like most people who start new businesses, I have some ideas I want to implement. Some of them are even more outside the box than starting a business without a logo.
Right now my first priority is finding some homes to put my signs in front of — you know, my shiny, new, mostly black and white “for sale” signs without a logo — so that I can make some money. I have been in business for a little over a week, and so far all I have to show for it are a lot of bills, an impressive line of credit and a couple of new bank accounts with very little (or no) money in them.
Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.