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Being a successful team leader and independent broker-owner requires many of the same skills, including business planning, branding, marketing, recruiting, culture-building and choosing the tools and systems to run a tight ship. So why aren’t more team leaders, especially female team leaders, taking the jump to independence?
“I never had the intention of opening up my brokerage until 2017 when I went to a little event called WomanUP!” The RECollective broker-owner Barb Betts told the Inman Connect crowd. “I remember distinctly sitting in that room and thinking in the back of my mind, ” Could I do this? Me? Could I really do this?'”
Betts said fellow broker-owners Vanessa Bergmark and Kendyl Young encouraged her to go independent, but she was still making excuses as to why she couldn’t do it. However, a car ride home with two of her agents and staff members changed Betts’ mind. “I asked, ‘If I open my own brokerage, would you guys come with us?” she said. “They said, ‘When can we leave?’ I didn’t realize how upset they were.”
“I realized I was my biggest enemy. We’re our biggest critic, right?” she added. “I listened to the story I was telling myself, and the story was my team members wouldn’t come with me. I was telling myself that I couldn’t run the team as a brokerage. We’ve got to stop that [negative] voice.”
Meanwhile, All City Homes broker-owner Serina Lowden said her greatest obstacle was less about doubting herself, and more about the very real challenges women and people of color face as they work to climb up the professional ladder.
“During [the recession], I worked really hard and I overcame a lot of obstacles being a woman and a woman of color,” she said. “After a while, I felt I’d made a footprint in the community and in my work, and I decided it’s time [to go independent]. There were some things that are missing with the big brokerages and so I said to myself, my business partner, ‘What can we do to make a difference?'”
Lowden said she immediately focused her resources on diversity, social responsibility, and building authentic relationships with the communities her brokerage services in Sacramento, Santa Monica and San Antonio. “There is life outside the big brokerages,” she said. ” And I thought it was time to start a company where everyone comes in and feels comfortable.”
Betts echoed Lowden’s sentiments and said broker-owners, especially women broker-owners, need to be clear about their core values and stick to them as they build a brand and culture.
“What’s so so important is if you’re going to open a brokerage, you’ve got to have your core values and you’ve got to hold firm to those core values,” she said. “For example, I’ve led many people to our brokerage who I knew was not a good fit, but I thought I could change them. I thought I could fix them.”
“I couldn’t,” she added. “We’re not fixers, so stick to your core values. Stick to what makes you unique and know what your value is. That’s the key, in my opinion, to being successful.”
Lastly, Betts and Lowden encouraged broker-owners and aspiring broker-owners to remove their superhero cape and accept the wisdom and guidance of those who have already stepped into the indie life.
“There are a lot of people who want to help you and there are lots of women and men in this room who have done it,” Betts said. “Pick up the phone and ask for help because I think everyone thinks everyone is their competition and no one wants to help or see you succeed. That is the complete opposite of what happens.”