OK, I know what you’re thinking, ‘How do you know where to pivot to?’ And when you look at Hicks’ example of starting a newspaper targeted to real estate agents, it isn’t the most obvious choice. Around the country then, and likely now, newspapers were going out of business or going online.
“First things first, you have to do what you love, because it is going to take a lot of your time and you’re going to lay in bed at night at 12:30 a.m. and remember you have to post to Instagram or you have an idea in the middle of the night and you have to write it down,” she said.
Folks were telling her to create an app instead. “I just love the picking up of a newspaper and the touch and the feel. It’s kind of nostalgic in a way. … And there is always a time where somebody is sitting somewhere, where they’re going to pick it up and read it.”
Know Your Industry
Hicks’ several business endeavors include her real estate practice, the newspaper/magazine, an ecommerce retail shop, and now a brick-and-mortar retail store. However, they are all tied to real estate.
“All these start-ups … You have to start someplace, I guess” Hicks said, laughing. “People are saying, ‘You have so much going on!’ but it’s all real estate. It’s all related. It’s not like I’m trying to do a horse farm, sell real estate, and plant avocados.”
Starting a business on what you know is typically a key to being one of those companies that celebrates its 10th anniversary. And you’d be surprised just how much you know. It could be your knowledge comes from past professional experiences, or from consuming a product personally, or from having a passionate hobby that then becomes your business. The list goes on. On the flip side, the less you know about what you’re jumping into, the more time, money, or other resources it will take to get that knowledge.
“I know what realtors want,” she said. “And I know what they need ‒ even with them not knowing what they need.”
Find a Market Need
Hicks had her “Aha Moment” for her first retail product, a home buyer’s journal, while showing homes to a picky friend. She realized they could use something to jot down what they liked or didn’t like in a home, how they felt about each house, and so forth. Hicks realized these journals could be custom branded and given away by real estate agents and mortgage brokers to customers.
“My whole goal,” she said. “Real estate products have been so ugly for so long, and I just got tired of it and I just wanted to change the look of real estate.
“In real estate, it is so important to stand out,” she said, especially if you’re part of the one of the big brand networks. “Everybody that comes into the store or goes to our site gets so excited. It’s all about marketing. It really is.
Always Be Marketing