How many self-employed architects does the average person know? How many self-employed REALTOR’s does the average person know? If you know about 3320 people statistically one of them is an architect (not necessarily self-employed though). Out of that same 3320 people you know, statistically twenty of them would be REALTOR’s. Which industry do you think has the most information about running a business? Which industry will have the most tools to help you succeed? Which industry has the best guidance for starting off on your own? You’ve got it- the real estate industry. Which industry are you in? Well you could be in both!

As a matter of perspective we tend to focus on only what we know around us, leaving other options somewhat blurry. In late 2014 I decided to explore that blurry area, I left my comfortable job in the Bay Area to move back home to Idaho Falls, ID, where I had been gone for about 8 years, to start my own company which was definitely a risk. Writing that sentence makes me realize how big of a risk it sounds like. It was risky, but we wanted to be closer to family, and family also offered us a safety net while we got our feet on the ground.

The first month (January, 2015) of business I joined a real estate brokerage that offered a ton of education and immersed myself into learning how to be a new real estate agent, how to get business, how to market properties, how to close deals… I also met with builders, other architects, drafters, engineers, and of course met a lot of other REALTORs. Remember, I didn’t know many people here anymore so it wasn’t as if I was going to start listing homes and closing deals right away.

The first house that I sold was through doing an open house for a builder and it closed at the beginning of March (2015). I also freelanced for a local architect in March and April. By July I felt like things were going pretty well for being in the first year of business. I left my first brokerage for one that was much cheaper- the transactions that I did at the first real estate brokerage basically paid for education and mentoring. However, where my goal was to do architecture as well as real estate, staying there didn’t make sense anymore.

As a start up my goal was to make enough money to replace my previous income plus cover all the benefits, taxes, and business expenses. Additionally, at some point I knew I should be making more, otherwise I didn’t really start my own company, merely my own job. This can be a daunting undertaking. Doing architecture and real estate has made this possible for myself, and I think it may be a great way for other architects to step into the realm of self-employment as well. The skills that one must learn to be a good real estate agent are the same skills required to go out and win projects, manage projects and expectations, and get referrals. REALTOR’s® have to learn how to do this from the start. If you are an architect working for a large company, you may never learn this.

As Architects I think it’s a good idea to look at other professions and see what we can learn from them. What can we learn from how interior designers, lawyers, doctors, accountants, builders etc. run their businesses? It’s always a good idea to question how your business runs and if you could design it to be even better. That is our job…right?

This post is part of the Architalks series in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect selects a theme and a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is Tool and I selected some of the main tools that I use. To read how others interpreted the theme please click the links below…

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Architecture and Photography

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Architecture and a Future Without Architects

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
architecture and __

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Architecture and Travel

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Architecture and Storytelling

Jes Stafford – MODwelling (@modarchitect)
Architecture and Gaming

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
architecture and m&ms

Rosa Sheng – EquitybyDesign [EQxD] (@EquityxDesign)
Architecture And the Era of Connection

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#ArchiTalks 18: architecture and… the bigger picture

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks 18: Architecture and Mathematics

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
Architalks 18: Architecture and … Parenting

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
Architecture and Yoga

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Architecture and Ego

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Architecture and Ego / The Architect’s Unique Struggle with ‘Good’ Design

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
Architecture and Kids

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Architecture and More

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Architecture and the Myth of the Master Builder

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Architecture and Interior Design

Samantha Raburn – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Architecture and Wrestling

Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
Architecture and Children

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Architecture + Memories

Adam Denais – Defragging Architecture (@DefragArch)
[#ArchiTalks 18] Architecture and Strange Travel Etiquette

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Architecture and…my Generation.