Business or Hobby?

“Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.”

                                   ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Before making radical decisions about your commercial real estate business, one key question must be answered honestly and truthfully – Does your real estate “company” run as a business or a hobby? This may seem obvious, but sadly most real estate “businesses” are glorified hobby shops, filled with REALTOR® look-alikes, hobbyists in disguise pretending they’re tycoons.

Hobbies, like ceramics, Hummel’s or model railroads, are pastimes, something you collect, even play with on occasion, but then stash away until the next holiday or fancy brings them out of their hiding place. Like my Lionel trains, they’re up on their platform chugging along the week before Christmas, and then back into the closet by January 4th. I forget about them the rest of the year.

A real business, however, doesn’t lie dormant. A real business is fully assembled, ready for handling potential deals all of the time. It can’t take evenings or weekends off. It’s working the real estate market each day – new listings, customers, clients, the latest and greatest marketing tools. It can’t just be your favorite hobby, or worse, the job you go to and mentally leave at shift time.

My dad had a beautiful stamp collection. I take it out every so often – an historic array of presidents, authors, artists, inventors and celebrities (even Elvis has a postage stamp).  I admire it for the love and care he put into it — each stamp cataloged and carefully mounted. Imagine, 176 years of postal history!  Stamp collecting was Dad’s hobby, not his profession. Real estate ignited him; his stamps relaxed him. Hobbies aren’t treated as intensely as your business, because you can walk away from a hobby. Dad’s stamp collection spent most of the time in his safe deposit box. It still does in mine. Your attention to your real estate business, on the other hand, needs to be fulltime, serious, “on purpose.” Ask yourself, is yours a business or a very expensive hobby? Your answer makes a big, big difference.

Written by Marty Rueter