The Next Step is a Doozy: Things You Should Know Before Starting Your Own Brokerage
By Eric Hamilton
Most of the time, the path to career success is depicted as either a ladder or a staircase. And not to throw graphic designers under the bus--those are, after all, some of the most effective ways to convey an upward journey taken incrementally--but those images subtlety imply that each milestone, each step along the way, is fairly equal, and as difficult to achieve as the last.
But as anyone who's started their own brokerage is aware, if their journey were a ladder, some of the rungs would be sturdy and evenly placed, but others would be icy, and some might be missing altogether, requiring a giant push just to continue moving forward.
While there are already a few articles available that detail what real estate agents might want to understand before starting their own brokerage, I thought I'd check in with Kris Lindahl, who has been generating a ton of press in the past few months for his unorthodox approach to running his brokerage: Kris Lindahl Real Estate. KLRE was founded in 2018, and in just two short years it's managed to expand into multiple states and surpass $1 billion in sales. In addition to its Minnesota and Wisconsin agents, KLRE has just recently added a separate Colorado team, with its own stagers and leadership.
Rapid growth was always Lindahl's goal, and step one was aggressive, stand-out marketing. Lindahl launched an aggressive billboard campaign to differentiate himself and his brokerage from other agents, and advertise his Guaranteed Offer program. In fact, many articles about forming your own brokerage will mention the need for assertive marketing. But what many will fail to mention is that the marketing strategy that will build trust in your brand and promote awareness sufficient to generate a sustainable amount of clients will require deficit spending.
And if you weren't already nervous about breaking out on your own, deficit spending will definitely ratchet up your anxiety. "It takes a certain amount of risk tolerance to be able to start a business, and it takes even more to scale up quickly. You're going to have to go way out of your comfort zone, and get used to feeling uncomfortable," Lindahl explains.
That doesn't mean only those with high risk tolerance, perhaps on par with extreme sports enthusiasts, should start their own brokerages. But they should have a heads up that they're going to have more than a few sleepless nights.
Starting your own brokerage also requires you to build a strong team. And especially at first, as the company is more fragile, and the stakes are incredibly high, you're going to need to trust the people you've got around you. "It's a giant trust fall," Lindahl begins. "You're now going from being 'in production' to more 'out of production' in your ability to directly generate income for the company. At the same time, you'll need to be trusting and generous with your team's commission. You'll need to focus on other things like building your brand, and so you're going to need to trust the people around you to basically be you and act in your best interests when you're not there on the front lines. That's harder than people realize, especially when so much is on the line."
But if you're willing to ride that incredible wave for perhaps a year or two, and continue to make bold choices, then the payoff can be amazing. For Lindahl, it's allowed him to spend more time giving back to his industry, which is something he's still passionate about. Just recently, Lindahl was able to step away for a few days to hold his own industry seminar in Orlando, giving attendees both online and in person his takes on his favorite topic: encouraging entrepreneurs to think big, and helping small businesses across the country thrive.
Lindahl is still incredibly busy, which is obviously a pace he enjoys. But owning his own brokerage has given him a platform to transform his entire industry for the better, and with any luck, use what he's learned to help others. With every passing year, his brokerage has continued to evolve. And so far, the subsequent challenges he's faced have been easier, and far less terrifying. "I certainly don't want to discourage anyone from starting their own brokerage. It's been incredibly challenging, and I think it would have been easier for me if I knew some of these things before I started. But I'll never regret going through any of it. It's been a dream come true," Lindahl concludes.