What Business Are We In?
July 1, 2001
Do you know what business you’re in—and why? The overwhelming majority of landlords follow the old Nike slogan “Just Do It.” And they keep doing it and doing it. After a number of years they completely lose touch with why they did it in the first place.
Remember when you started in the landlording business? Remember how exciting everything was? When you bought your first property, before all the problems and irritations that come with owning and managing rental property, you were excited and ready to take on the world. You might even have had visions of real estate tycoondom. You can light that spark again.
It starts with attitude. Your attitude is betrayed by how you tell people what you do. “I’m just a landlord.” “I own rental property.” Who cares. With a response like that, you don’t seem to care much. Part of the problem is that so many of us don’t value what we do. Also we start believing all the envy-driven bad press from people who have not taken financial charge of their lives and so depend on us for housing.
What we do is of vital importance. We provide housing for around 40 percent of the population of this country. We spend billions of dollars on maintenance and improvements. We pay billions of dollars more in property and income taxes. We are an essential and integral part of the economy. In spite of that, we don’t appreciate our business.
Getting that enthusiasm back begins with a two-step process. First, create a 20-second or shorter description of what you do. “I’m a landlord,” or “I own rental property” doesn’t get it. How about something such as “I am part of a group that provides housing for 40 percent of Americans”? Even more impressive—if you live in a major city where the vast majority of people live in rental housing—”I am part of a group that provides housing for 65 percent of the people in this city.” “I make sure people have a great place to live” will make people remember, too.
Think of something that reflects the valuable service you provide.
Part and parcel of that is your mission. My friend Dick Barnett writes in his book Re-Ignite Your Business: the secret of leading with confidence, ease and certainty that 95 percent of CEOs in this country have no idea why they’re in business. He prescribes a mission statement to begin to fix what ails companies. You can do that for your business.
“Your mission existed in full bloom the day you first opened your doors, it exists today, in the midst of the mire that is getting in your way, hindering your success. And it will exist tomorrow or next year as the anchor, the bedrock, the core reason your company is,” writes Dick Barnett.
To find the mission for your business, Barnett suggests your look at “what gets you out of bed in the morning? . . . There’s something that drives you at that level that’s important.” Your mission can only come from your heart, and it’s unique to you.
Barnett describes some terrific techniques for creating your own personal workshop so you can locate your mission midst the befuddlement of trying to figure out why you “just did it.” “Mission is not your goals or objectives. Mission is not something you’re going toward, or even something you’re trying to become. Mission is what your company is. Why your company exists,” he writes.
Your mission statement is best if it’s only one, two, or three words—not a abridged version of War and Peace. It must be something that rings bells in your head, that yanks you out of bed in the morning, that makes you say “YES!” when see it on the wall.
Once you can say what you do with pride and have captured your mission, you are a long way toward being able to slice through the problems, aggravations and obstacles that confront us as landlords every day, and focus on why we did this in the first place.
You can order Re-Ignite Your Business directly from Dick Barnett at 503-629-5210 or on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1890331007/qid=994785744/sr=1-1/