I built 17 different companies before starting my first publicly traded company nearly 13 years ago. After seven years of watching other real estate companies adapt to shifting markets and new realities, I saw and capitalized on an opportunity to do things differently. It started with a new agent compensation structure and has evolved to include completely virtual teams and the acquisition of organizations that help fuel our growth, like this magazine and the metaverse company, Virbela.
We won’t always have these kinds of advantages. Amazon has a first-move advantage in the e-commerce space, but competitors will continue to innovate as alternatives. Netflix was the first true streaming service that’s now only one of many. Both companies had upwards of two decades of a head start on any true competitors. And right now, we’re 13 years into that two decade head start.
Whether from competitors, regulatory environments or the current downturn of the market, we’re going to feel pressure for months to come. Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes. We, along with our competitors, will be looking for ways to increase efficiency and innovate to land on top when the market rights itself. In times of economic uncertainty, the mission of an organization and its leadership can be the guiding light.
For our organization, staying adaptable, hungry, humble and ready to grow is the key to building a resilient business and winning through different market cycles. Here are my eight guiding principles for leading during such times:
1. Play to win.
Set a clear vision and mission with defined goals for your team to rally around together.
2. Be continually learning.
The best practices that worked a couple years ago are probably irrelevant today. To be a true student of business, test your assumptions and find new and innovative ways to succeed.
3. Break what isn’t broken.
A comfortable business is one that will be left behind. Encourage your team to challenge, question and scrutinize everything.
4. Don’t underestimate your competition.
Competitive advantages don’t often last long. Keeping your advantage means staying on top of competitors and iterating your product or service before the market requires it.
5. Know when you have an advantage and double down.
Identify what makes your company unique and capitalize on it—advantages come in all shapes. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to reinvent the product wheel to stand out.
6. Balance operating expenses with growth.
Keep your costs low and your focus sharp. You can’t grow without taking risks and making investments in innovation. But too many risks, too many investments and you’ll find yourself battling oversized operating expenses.
7. Be agile to adapt.
Agility is essential to fast-growing organizations. Leaders should create room for key team members to move in and innovate. That means understanding where they can provide the most value and where it makes more sense to stay out of the way.
8. Embrace chaos to drive change.
Get comfortable with chaos; it’s a byproduct of fast-growing organizations. Find what needs to be broken to build a better system that drives your growth.
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2022 Issue of SUCCESS magazine.