As with any new challenge in life, mistakes are an inevitable part of navigating the learning curve. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the amount of mistakes you make by learning from those who have gone before you.

As small business owners ourselves, we have definitely made our share of errors and missteps when we entered the property management space in central Ohio nearly a decade ago.

While we are the first to admit that we still have more to learn, we wanted to share with you five mistakes we made early on in our business evolution as a way to help you think through your own challenges and opportunities when it comes to investing and managing real estate in Ohio and around the country.

Mistake #1: We were slow to operationalize the sales process.

Entrepreneurs are used to doing it all themselves. To get to where they are in life, they’ve often had to due to limited resources. In order to grow, we all realize that eventually we have to let go of some things. One way this happens is by systemizing some of your processes. Admittedly, this can be a difficult transition for many small business owners. It certainly was for us.

To get started, you must first identify your sales process and put it down on paper. While you may know your processes intuitively in your head, it’s important to document them so that eventually someone else can do them too.

Operationalize your sales process by thinking through how people are going from being total strangers to signing on as new clients. How do they travel through your sales funnel? Simply understanding your sales process is a huge step in identifying what kind of key conversations you need to be having at each step of the funnel.

For the first seven years of our company, we didn’t have a system in place for operationalizing the sales process. We were doing everything ourselves, and it was exhausting.

Once we finally identified our sales process and hired a business development manager to take over the reins, there’s been a noticeable shift for all of us. Our employee is able to focus on having those key conversations with clients and being responsive when people call in, and we can focus on other business needs.

Mistake #2: We spent too much time thinking about how to get paid rather than how we can add value to others.

As a new business owner or even as an individual investor, there has to be a priority on ensuring profitability. There’s no question. But for the ambitious, it can be easy to fall into a “gimme, gimme, gimme” mindset and fail to see the big picture.

It’s a paradox that’s played out time and time again – the more you want success and make that the center of your entire thinking, the farther you’re going to be from it. Conversely, when you shift your mindset and rethink who you want to serve, you’re going to achieve success a lot faster.

We’ve certainly found ourselves thinking about where our business might have been had this mindset crystalized for us earlier. Now, rather than being defensive whenever we read a customer complaint, instead we try to reframe it. We add it to our data bank and consider what we can do better to help this person and others like them. Is there something we need to adjust? A new process we can implement?

By balancing priorities and finding ways to add value to our tenants, business partners, and even complete strangers, we’ve been surprised by how many new connections and opportunities have arisen.

Mistakes are an important part of learning how to navigate a new challenge, but there are opportunities to learn from others who have already made them. Hopefully the insight we’ve shared about ours is helpful to you. Stay tuned to our next blog to learn about three more mistakes we made (so that you can avoid them!)