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Busting the top 5 myths surrounding starting your business

(BROKERAGE NEWS) Growing your company based on success stories of others can lead to some common misperceptions, don’t believe the myths you hear!

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Growing your company the right way

We’ve all seen the dramatic tales of college kids chugging Red Bull, coding a site, and becoming billionaires, and we’ve heard a myth (or twenty) about companies that went from idea to fame in mere weeks, but the truth is that those are exceptions to the normal business rules. We’re all familiar with the success stories of entrepreneurs that were perfectionists and filled with passion.

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These exciting stories often become the basis of comparison for many professionals and entrepreneurs, and risks are taken and avoided based on the success journeys of predecessors. So what are the most common myths surrounding how to grow a company?

We asked Himanshu Sareen, CEO at global technology consulting firm, Icreon Tech, Inc. to dispel these myths. Below, in his own words are the five most common myths about growing a company:

Myth #1: take every project that comes your way

Although ambition is crucial for growth, it can also be a downfall. For a great deal of up-and-coming businesses, it is fairly easy to bite off more than one can chew. Landing an international Fortune 500 client may seem like the turn-key solution to grow a business, but use caution. The same goes for contracts with monetary value that is below a certain threshold.

While small in size, such projects can quickly take up valuable time and resources.

Remain practical and focus on what is feasible in terms of the organization’s bandwidth. If a business dives in too deep, they may very well find themselves out of their league. My best advice would be to choose projects with a sustainable long term vision in mind.

Myth #2: ignore culture, it can wait

Holding off on establishing a solidified company culture can equate to significant obstacles down the road. As a company grows and adds on members there is less and less time to focus on establishing a company culture. By focusing on culture, meaning the attitudes, expectations, and environment of a company, a business can better position itself for growth down the road.

And don’t just think about ping-pong tables and trendy branded T-shirts.

As a business grows, founding members are the arbiters of culture. Such critical players are the one’s in place that are in charge of approving new hires, and they should live and breath the essence of the team.

When a business places culture on the back-burner, the major impediment that results rests in the hiring area. Without a team that melds and collaborates effectively, growth is guaranteed to be stymied.

Myth #3: don’t sell until the product is perfect

Maintaining the delicate balance between expanding the sales pipeline while simultaneously building the logistical capacity to deliver, is a constant struggle. There is a pervasive mindset to refine until perfection before heading to market. Although such caution is warranted, focus on a parallel approach to aggressive growth and delivery. Rather than holding off on sales and revenue growth while a product or service is refined, a business should drive forward and build as much as possible.

Although growing and simultaneously expanding to compensate is a challenge, it is preferable to going through the cyclical phases of focusing solely on sales and re-adjusting to attend to growth. Temptation to yo-yo between the two can severely hamper expansion. Such an approach can easily kill positive momentum. There needs to be a constant and vigilant parallel focus on gaining new business and building the resources to deliver.

Myth #4: there is no room for bad decisions

Experimentation is the key to innovating. And with any experiment there is a chance of failure. But do not fear failure. Although it is a played out quote, failure is one of the greatest teachers in life. Facebook famously centers their operations on the mantra of ‘Move Fast and Break Things’. Making mistakes is a vital part of the process needed for growth.

Businesses can only expand by stepping outside of the comfort zone.

Expansion requires delving into emerging markets, executing new marketing campaigns, or taking a chance on ‘outside the box’ hiring prospects. Although failure may occur, it should not prevent valuable experimentation.

Myth #5: credentials are everything

While top-tier graduates and stellar resumes may seem like the secret weapon for success, credentials are not the only qualifier for greatness. Often times the qualities of a high-performance rockstar cannot be properly communicated through a resume or cover letter. In-person communication and personality are critical. Flexibility, communication, and work-ethic are what you need as a smaller company pursuing growth.

In some instances, focusing too heavily on credentials can end up turning you into the 2008 New York Yankees. This also ties back to the importance of establishing culture from the outset. With an established culture a business will be able to attract the valuable team members needed to truly meld with the team.

#DoItYourWay

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Is this the end of the Great American Commercial Office Building?

(REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE) Dell is the latest to join a trending game of commercial real estate hot potato by selling off 35 acres of prime real estate in Round Rock to Switch.

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Tall glass windowed office buildings, a part of commercial real estate

With people and companies realizing how viable remote work is across several industries, companies are re-evaluating the role of the in-office worker. Many large companies, including Dell Technologies, are starting to ditch their expensive investments, those big, shiny office buildings and, in some cases, even office compounds. The American Genius has learned from a Dell source that they’re lightening their commercial real estate load by selling off approximately 35-acres of their Dell Round Rock campus to Switch, who will build a 1.5 million sq. ft. building called “The Rock.” Additionally, they are leasing the third floor in another building to the Army Futures Command (AFC) for their Resource Operations Center. Dell seems to be making out well in these transactions, reducing their real estate holdings and repurposing the other space by leasing it.

Are these once-bustling business centers going the way of abandoned shopping malls and all those condos in Miami? Not exactly, but we are seeing a trend for businesses to rethink the space they need and what they should sell (or lease). “‘Remote work is really going to stay here,’ says Frank Steemers, senior economist for the Conference Board, in USA Today. “It’s probably going to be one of the main organizational legacies of the pandemic.’” It seems unlikely, although it’s unclear what this means for commercial real estate.

Dell did well, as the market in Austin is still healthy and is expected to stay that was. Other cities may not be faring as well. While some people want to go back to their offices for various reasons, few actually want to return to full-time cubicle or office life. Employers are making these decisions to move more employees to full time working from home status and to expand the job candidate pool by hiring more remote workers.

REI sold their brand new headquarters in Bellevue, Washington to Facebook in August 2020, before ever having moved in. They had to deal with layoffs last year, plus their office employees have been working remotely already. For months at the start of the pandemic, we saw businesses holding onto their real estate, expecting a return to business as usual sooner rather than later. When that didn’t happen, companies opted to make more permanent arrangements for remote workers. Selling off their office spaces means less overhead for the businesses with fewer day-to-day expenses.

Things started shifting when the tech giant Google said it would consider allowing employees to keep working from home until well into summer 2022, and predicted a hybrid work model in the future. Facebook and Twitter have indicated something similar, and regional offices of Ford (Michigan), Target (Minnesota), and Salesforce in California have all indicated they will be “giving up significant office space because of their changing workplace practices,” according to the NY Times in a recent article on the trend.

Businesses are off-loading their commercial real estate holdings, because with offices at half-capacity or less in many of these massive compounds, it doesn’t make sense to hold onto the properties. The basic cost of running and operating these behemoths, not to mention the abandoned meditation rooms and ping pong tables, doesn’t make too much sense now. It’s just paying for wasted space. It will be interesting to keep an eye on this trend as some workers return to their offices.

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Don’t settle for mediocrity: How to be a better leader

(BROKERAGE NEWS) There tends to be two camps of leaders, those who lead from strength and those from weakness. But who says you can’t do both?

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Leader in a meeting

A lot of leadership literature has become “strength’s focused” – using inventories like StrengthsFinder (developed by Gallup). The logic in many ways, is sound. Capitalizing on your strengths as a leader and those of your team is significantly more effective than attempts to cover perceived flaws or weaknesses.

The business world has been cited for being too focused on weaknesses (and now parents are too). This a natural inclination for people. For leaders however, we should be bringing our strengths (and the strengths of our teams) to work and making “it” happen.

However, an over focus on strengths isn’t without its own challenges. Tony Schwartz writes for Harvard Business Review, a “well-rounded leader” has a greater opportunity to be more effective. As we seek to leverage our “strengths” let us not forget the complexity of our skill set and how those negatives we see about ourselves can become assets – resources – that we use to manage ourselves and our teams.

Metaphors are common in leadership articles, so I won’t break tradition.

Much like in physical exercise, poor form often causes the overuse of a muscle versus a group of muscles. Poor leadership form, while doing the lifting, leads to an overuse or over-reliance on what is good and comfortable for us.

A pragmatic leader may find themselves unable to make dynamic change move forward. Today’s leaders have to deal with a more complex environment in terms of technology, skills, and demographics. One style of leading will simply not be enough.

The big lesson here is to workout things you don’t think are your best strengths. What are ways you can take those weaknesses and utilize them? How do your rebranded weaknesses make you a good leader for a project or a team? Create opportunities to use your “positive opposites” – those weaknesses that you have rebranded.

PRO TIP: Find a mentor, find a coach, or keep reading about leadership.

You may never be able to develop those skills as strong as your primary, but you will have more leadership muscle to work with. You’ll be delivering a better leader to serve, build, and develop yourself or the organization.

Schwartz discusses the role of choices. We make a lot of choices as leaders – resources, people, what risks, what resources, what costs. When we make those choices working with clients or employees we are always using our mental tool kits.

It doesn’t hurt us to have more tools, most of the time, to allow us to handle situations.

SIDEBAR: It is important to recognize that we only have a limited amount of time. You’re still going to benefit more from developing your strengths – but don’t forget to work out those rebranded weaknesses (the triceps of leadership!). I love an 80/20 perspective – spend 80% of your learning time focused on building up those strengths, spend the other 20% on flexing those rebranded weakness.

A well-balanced leader is not a one-trick pony – they are leaders who can take an organization through many life cycles. If you seek to be some kind of leader, take some time to appreciate your own mix of strengths and weaknesses, and the unique qualities that you bring to a complex world of complex organizations.

Leadership is a whole person endeavor, and don’t skip those weaknesses (just like leg day!).

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Entrepreneurs and techies, need motivation? Weekend Club is here to help

(REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE) Weekend Club gives you access to a support network of techies and entrepreneurs every Saturday to keep you motivated on your personal projects.

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Freelancers and entrepreneurs working together in a meeting room, two men and two women, discussing over a laptop.

If you want your personal project to succeed, you’ve got to work on it constantly. Jerry Seinfeld says to not break the chain, while Stephen King says to write every day. Getting better at something requires the motivation and discipline to put in a bit of work every day – to persevere through every setback.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Tech projects are especially notorious about this – the complexity of a new app’s design and code might hit a blocker at any moment, and that can quickly make someone walk away. There’s hundreds of dozens of little pieces all scattered around that require attention, and any single one of them might trip everything up.

It’s exhausting. Finding a solution might mean hours of Google and Stackoverflow searches, watching tutorials in hopes that someone ran into the same issue, or possibly tracking down someone to help. It could be days before you get past a specific hurdle, and even then, who knows how quickly a solution can be implemented.

This is where Weekend Club steps in. Every Saturday, techies and entrepreneurs gather in Zoom and Slack to offer up advice and guidance to anyone working on a personal project. With a group of entrepreneurs that includes startup founders, veteran coders, designers, and everything in between, Weekend Club works to provide a place of answers, help, and encouragement.

Much like a standard tech shop, each day begins with a standup, has office hours, and an end-day retrospective to cover your progress. There’s also access to a wealth of digital assets, including discounts on popular products such as Stripe and Notion.

The overall idea is to provide a place where entrepreneurs can flourish by surrounding themselves with knowledgeable and experienced veterans – people who have been in the same situation before, and can deliver their wisdom quickly. Of course, knowing that you’ll be using a part of your week to push forward on your project is meant to foster a sense of determination to get it done, which in turn can help fuel aspirations and get things completed.

A subscription is $49/month and grants you access to a wealth of useful resources, and there is a free 30 days trial as well. A quick glance at the testimonial page shows that this weekly meeting has been a savior for numerous people as they work to get their ideas into motion. By taking away the loneliness of a personal project and instead replacing it with a supportive group of like-minded individuals, Weekend Club provides a way to remain devoted and productive.

As one person mentions on Weekend Club’s Product Hunt Page, “Best thing about Weekend Club is that it gently keeps you accountable and aligned with your goals.”

In the end, if diligence is the key, then giving yourself access to a team of mentors and colleagues is an excellent way to continue your journey. Weekend Club might only be meeting once a week, but this could change in the future. And besides, at least one focused day is better than none at all, and that motivation can carry through an entire week.

It gets easier. Every day it gets a little easier. But you got to do it every day. That’s the hard part. But it does get easier.

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