On Friday, I attended a meeting where a presentation was given by the head of Georgia Tech’s Venture Lab, which is their development program for new ideas and entrepreneurial opportunities dreamed up by their students. I was surprised to find out that they are #2 for collegiate business incubators in the world, and #1 for engineering specific business incubations (Go Jackets!).
To be honest, I was pleasantly caught off guard by this presentation as there were several things that I found particularly interesting from an applicable business perspective. First, the Venture Lab’s motto is, “Don’t look for a job. Create one.” And as the presenter said, the most important job for a successful entrepreneur is to “find a hole that exists in the world, then fill it.”
Value. Purpose. Contribution. These are the words that fuel people to find a hole in the world, then fill it. These are the words that live at the core of successful people in the real estate industry, in any industry…and they are certainly at the core of any successful and sustainable business. All too often we see people fail to succeed, or succeed for just a short while, because their motivation is self or money driven, not driven by value, purpose and contribution. Business models based on monetary gain do not necessarily create value, purpose or contribution. However, business models that are based on value, purpose and contribution create money. Are you looking for a hole in the world that you can fill? What opportunities exist in our industry to add more value to buyers and sellers? What can you do to contribute more to your clients and customers? What can you do to separate your quality of service from others? Answer these questions correctly and you fill a hole. I’ve always loved the notion that money shows up in relation to the value that you provide. Want more money? Provide more value. It’s that simple.
Another clearly stated idea from the presentation was that your business model is more important than your business plan. HOW your business runs is more important that what you think it can accomplish. The man went so far to say that “business plans are fiction.” The good news is that at Keller Williams we have successful business models all over the place and the people running them will share their successes and failures with any of us who ask. It’s how we roll. So, as you take time to architect your business for 2014, focus more on your business model than anything else.
And lastly, I loved the part of the discussion around the metrics behind successful businesses. We all know that people try to sell us on something based on some metric that seems impressive, but at the end of the day that metric doesn’t do anything significant to our bottom line. Just because you get a zillion people to your website doesn’t mean your business performs better. The term that Georgia Tech has coined to separate fact from fiction is “Vanity Metrics.” These are metrics that look good or sound good, but have little to no value in the actual performance of a business. Vanity Metrics. I love this term! I love it because it’s such a clever reminder that (a) we need to try to determine if we are making decisions to invest in something based on information that matters to our business or not, and (b) we need to make sure our presentations to buyers and sellers clearly present metrics (information) that matter, while using this term to shed light on the vanity metrics that may be provided by our competition. Vanity Metrics is one of the coolest and most useful terms that I’ve heard in a while, and you can bet that I will be adding it to my vocabulary…and you should, too!
I hope that I have done a fair job downloading this information and enthusiasm in an interesting manner. I’m always looking for noteworthy and sharable experiences, and when I find them, I tend to pass them along.
Go forth and improve your business model with more value, purpose and contribution…
Your #1 Fan…
OP – The Rawls Group, Keller Williams Realty
RD – NY Tri-State Region, Keller Williams Realty