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Clarity is key for business start-ups

Everyone at some point or the other has envisioned themselves calling all the shots; especially when your boss asks you to stay later than usual, or asks you to spend your weekend finishing up a project. Or, maybe the economy hasn’t been very good to you, and you were laid off to increase your company’s bottom line.

So, today a new feeling is burning inside of you -- the desire to take control of your future and start your own business. You’ve probably always had the thought deep down inside, but just didn’t think business ownership was realistic for you, or simply don’t know how to go about it.

After all, there’s a lot to consider: a solid business idea; a business plan; in many cases a location; and of course funding. Then there are even more challenging questions to answer, such as: How do you know your idea will work? How do you know you will even be good at it?

In just over two years, Anthony Lolli, founder and CEO of Rapid Realty, grew his Brooklyn firm from one boutique location, to 51 franchise locations in New York City and two more additional franchise locations slated to open in Boston and Philadelphia in June 2012.

With over 800 agents affiliated to its many franchise locations, Rapid Realty is New York City’s fastest growing real estate firm, and that’s no easy accomplishment in the most competitive real estate market in the United States.

In my recent interview with Lolli, we got down to the basic core of his success. When asked what is his strongest recommendation to an aspiring business owner, Lolli said, “Many people have a passion, but don’t know enough about it. It’s similar to someone being in love with love, but not knowing enough about the actual person.

“One must be willing to become a student of the practice of business from top to bottom, first. You have to do a lot of research, subscribe to industry magazines, become a member of that community, go to networking events, and fully immerse yourself in that industry. Having an idea is not enough.” Realistically, this is the only way to truly understand what’s required to succeed in any given business.”

Fifteen years ago, Lolli got started in the Real Estate industry as a sales agent, just as he requires all new recruits starting in his firm today. He became a major student of the Real Estate industry before opening his own office, and throughout his evolution from broker to franchiser, he is still a student of the industry. Lolli begins each day with staying in tune with industry news and trends, and researching the next level of growth for his company.

He cited The Real Deal Magazine in which he’s been featured numerous times, as his favorite real estate publication; Inc 500 Magazine as his favorite Business 101 resource, Google as his favorite information resource, and various social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and YouTube, among others, as the tremendous resource tools he uses to engage his consumers and understand his competitors.

My conversation with Lolli unveiled how truly common it is for aspiring business owners to get swept up in the false allure of business ownership. Many have a fantasy business in mind, in which you simply open the doors, have employees who handle the day-to-day activities, and the money rolls in, while you sip umbrella drinks in Montego Bay. While this may be somewhat of a reality for a fully-matured, completely established business which takes years to accomplish, this couldn’t be any further from reality for a start-up. You have to go into business with clarity to prepare you for long days, blood, sweat, and ... yes, tears.

Being an entrepreneur myself, owning your future is a beautiful thing. You literally have the power to change yourself and your succeeding generation’s lives, forever. However, in business there are absolutely no guarantees, and sure, experimentation leads to acquired wisdom. However, it’s probably not very wise to blindly experiment with your life savings, home equity, and your credit score.

In fact, great gains are accomplished by taking great risk; however, understanding the risks could only do one of two things: help you avoid investing time, resources and effort into something you’re not very passionate about, or something that’s not what it seems from the outside looking in. You’ve got to ensure that you prove your business instinct to be on target, and fuel your fire to conquer the identified challenges head-on.

Christine M. Coley is a Brooklyn-based, multi-market business owner in areas of Real Estate, Public Relations and Direct Sales. She may be contacted at christine.coley@gmail.com or twitter@chrisintheapple.

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