Rethink Podcast #9 – 6 Entrepreneurship Lessons from a Portland Realtor

Rethink Podcast 9 – 6 Entrepreneurship Lessons from a Portland Realtor 351x200 Rethink Podcast #9 – 6 Entrepreneurship Lessons from a Portland Realtor

So, for this episode of the Rethink Podcast, we interviewed Tracey Hicks, a Portland, Ore., entrepreneur in the real estate industry. While her example is not as sexy as an SaaS tech startup featured in Forbes or Inc. magazines, the lessons she’s learned and can pass along to the rest of us are the foundational characteristics that define what it means to be an entrepreneur (and eventually also a better marketer).

“I became an entrepreneur kicking and screaming,” she said. “I grew up in the restaurant business. My parent’s ran restaurants. We were feast or famine my whole entire life. So I was like, I am never going to do that. Ever. And I have not opened a restaurant. That is one thing I will never do. So at least I have stayed true to that. But, of course, when you grow up around entrepreneurial parents, eventually you are going to lose that battle and become an entrepreneur.”

The Courage to Pivot

Hicks became a Realtor in 2005, the height of the U.S. real estate bubble. For a bit of time, she was thinking, “This is fantastic.” We all know what happened next. The Great Recession. Foreclosures. Short sales. Closings that dragged out for a year or more. And Hicks wasn’t getting paid until the closings were finalized. There were bills to pay. Kids to feed…

She pivoted. She worked from home for about 18 months. By the end of that time the Portland market started warming back up, and Hicks was getting a bit of cabin fever. She pivoted again. She and her partner opened their own real estate shop. “People thought we were a little crazy starting a company at that time,” she said. “But as entrepreneurs it isn’t always about what’s going on in the outside world. It is more about what’s going on with you, timing, family, all of that.”

During this period, she also started the newspaper, All Things Real Estate. “I really wanted Portland to have something for their Realtors to market not only their properties, but also themselves.”

She thought she could generate revenue from real estate agents buying ads. “What ended up happening was that the Realtors ended up becoming our readership,” she said.

Again, she pivoted. And she began selling ads to mortgage brokers, home inspectors, plumbers, contractors and so forth. And the newspaper took off, at least within its niche. Five years later, she met two former magazine designers who had just gotten their real estate licenses. One thing led to another, and she pivoted again, this time converting the newspaper to a monthly magazine.

“Being an entrepreneur, there are a lot of pivots,” Hicks said. “You just have to be able to handle that, and be OK with change, and learn from your mistakes … And you really have to be able to shift to what your consumer, your client, your customer is telling you, what they’re doing, and what they’re buying.”

Follow Your Passion

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