In my experience agreeing on a market in which to set up a business can be daunting. It is after all a huge decision with negative financial implications if all does not end well.
Property management however is an arena that appeals to many women. Managing property, be it sales, rental or short term accommodation is a huge market. Property is by far the biggest asset in people’s lives and it is time consuming to manage, particularly in addition to a full time career elsewhere. For this reason many property owners look to outsource the sales, administration and letting function.
There is also a huge requirement for short term accommodation, be it holiday lets, student flats or corporate stays. There are several organisations and associations to assist your learning process, try the National Association of Residential Property Managers.
Another plus side is that it is an area in which many women feel comfortable. Most of us have sold, leased or taken a rental out on a property in our lives. We know the basics so it is a relatively short hop to creating a business in a market filled with opportunity.
Start with the Basics
Don’t over complicate it to start however, consider the basics. What area do you live in and what needs are there in terms of property? Do you live for example in a University town such as Cambridge where accommodation for students is an issue? Alternatively is it a holiday area where a lot of properties are sought after for holiday lets? This could include caravans, holiday lodges, flats or houses. Who owns these properties and how are they managed now?
My advice would be to segment the market into obvious sections and do your homework. Are there any segments you have not considered, some structured research will prove enlightening.
Focus on a Sector that Attracts you
My advice would be to pick a sector that appeals to you. We all do better at something we like and enjoy. Where do you feel comfortable and what skills do you have to match the need in the market?
Don’t forget to factor in the way you live your life, your responsibilities and therefore your limitations. Managing holiday lets for example will require a lot of work at changeover; this is generally the weekend meaning a peak of work when the children are not at school.
Are there any particular skills you could bring to the sector, added benefits if you will? Perhaps you could offer a cleaning service for the holiday lets in addition to attracting customers and managing the bookings?
Also do not discount creating a market that is not necessarily there at the moment. This is a harder route certainly but achievable never the less. All good ideas sounded crazy at the outset, this is after all where ‘time share’ apartments came from. Someone thought wouldn’t that be a good idea? – I could sell that and an industry was born!
Analyse the Competition
When you have a shape of an idea formalise it on paper and look at the competitors. Who, what and where? Drill into the detail, what do they offer and how can you compete with them? What are the key drivers for the business and what will your unique selling proposition (USP) be?
You may find your competitors offer a range of services that make them more of a generalist. Can you specialise in one area and mould yourself into an expert in that field?
Don’t worry too much about the end game at this stage. All businesses that I have ever known mutate into different animals over time. Just because you start in one niche does not restrict you from others. Successful business people sense the opportunity or they have a lightening moment and they cease on it.
Be Brave – Just do it!
A business managing property is a relatively low cost start up providing that you don’t plan to own the properties.
Working from home will cut costs in the initial stage, try to innovative in your marketing efforts, don’t just copy what the competitors are doing. Half the battle with marketing is getting noticed, cutting through the noise that surrounds us all. Sponsor a roundabout, create a ‘find the key’ competition and promote it at the town fair. Above all else however focus on what your prospective customers need. If you can provide a solution to their problems and make it an attractive proposition it will sell itself.
Whatever sector you choose and whatever you do remember people buy people. Be nice, aim to help people as opposed to sell at them. It may not be an overnight sale but word of mouth recommendation is the cheapest and most powerful form of marketing there is.
Preparation is everything. Failure to plan is planning to fail so get busy. Consider a business in the property business and don’t look back.