Being in Business: Four Years of Lessons in Three Minutes

Four years ago this month, I made a decision that changed my and my family’s lives.

Having worked as a PR consultant and blog writer for estate agencies since 2011, I set up the Estate Agent Content Club in September 2019.

Fast forward to September 2023, and we’re now established as one of the most well-known and successful content marketing companies in the estate agency industry.

We work with more than 105 independent estate agencies every month and are launching our sister brand, the Ethical Agent Network, next month.

We’ve donated more than £38,000 through our Karma Club part of the business, and my financial circumstances have changed immeasurably for the better.

It’s not always been easy, but building a successful business has not been as hard as many people make you think.

In this article, I share the four things I’ve learned about being in this business (before becoming a journalist, I built and sold a successful removal company with different lessons learned).

Here goes:

Be Generous

I’m not just talking about giving back to charities and communities. Be generous with your time to those who appreciate it.

We had built a solid client base when the lockdown struck in March 2020. However, the anxiety and uncertainty about what was happening meant many agents cut costs and stopped marketing.

We decided to provide our clients with far more content for no extra cost because people were at home with time on their hands. There would never be a more receptive audience to an agency’s messaging than at that time.

We also provided lettings content for free.

This act of generosity was well received by our members. It showed we were on their side.

But the beautiful, unexpected consequence of this extra content being created and shared by our members meant other agents asked them, ‘Where are you getting all this content?’

This led to us booming in lockdown and doubling the membership past 110 members.

Be Bold

Many of us hold ourselves back by being shackled by self-doubt and overthinking.

One of the most important things I’ve learned these past four years is to back yourself to do something if it’s something you want.

Be bold enough to think, ‘F’k it, I’m going to give this my best shot.’

Be bold when it comes to making tough decisions. We’ve had a couple of people join our team over the years that haven’t been a good fit. I may have held off making a decision in the past, but now we act quickly to remove people who don’t align with our values.

We also turn down more members than we take on.

Be Competitive

My main rival, Chris Watkin, is also a close friend and someone I respect a lot.

But we’re still seeking to outdo each other – in the spirit of fair competition.

I think what our business has become good at is competing with its past.

Have we improved our content offer since last year?

Did we get better at building a sense of community among our members?

Have we kept unnecessary costs to a minimum?

How many five-star Google reviews have we added this year compared to previous years?

My fear is not about being overtaken, it’s more about falling behind through underperforming.

To quote one of the best agency owners in the business, Asad Riaz, ‘Complacency is more dangerous than your competition.’

Be Balanced

The first two years of the club were a hard slog. Then, with systems in place and, most importantly, a great team alongside us, life became a little easier.

Especially when I realised the absolute essential factor of being balanced.

Too much work meant I was getting constantly burned out and losing interest.

But when I found balance through delegating, planning breaks and exercising regularly, I enjoyed my work more.

It’s okay to have a doss and not feel guilty, especially if you’ve worked hard to get yourself in a position to have an easy day.

Recently, I’ve started being mentored by one of the best and brightest people I’ve ever met, and he said something that struck me – ‘Be kind to yourself.’

This is advice I think we could all benefit from.

Finally, I’d like to thank my family, our team, clients and industry friends who have helped us these past four years.

Thanks for reading, and good luck to those of you who are ‘having a go’ in whatever area of life that sparks you up.