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Episode 11: How big do you want to be??

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

How to decide where that sweet spot is for you and your tea


Liz Sears, Nelson Barss

Liz Sears 00:01

Welcome to the Business greater than you podcast, where we dive deep into the stories of men and women who have successfully transcended the fragile solopreneur life, and built productive teams with better lifestyle and income.

Nelson Barss 00:13

I'm Nelson Barss, the founder and owner of Utah Independent Mortgage Corp.

Liz Sears 00:18

and I'm Liz Sears, founder and co owner of My Utah Agents.

Nelson Barss 00:21

We're excited for you to listen, interact and grow with us. So please share your comments below. And let's get started. Okay, well, let's get started.

Liz Sears 00:34

All right.

Nelson Barss 00:35

How are you, Liz?

Liz Sears 00:36

So good. How are you doing Nelson?

Nelson Barss 00:37

Good. I'm excited. We're gonna talk about how big do you want to be?

Liz Sears 00:42

Yeah, because there's a lot of options that we have to pick between. And I know a lot of our listeners are, some of them are still just single. And some of them have, you know, a team of 250. You know, so how do we decide? Where's that sweet spot for you? Personally.

Nelson Barss 00:55

I think you and I get sometimes, you know, we talk about our companies. And we tend to to focus on where we want to be, you know, I want to be bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger, right?

Liz Sears 01:08


Nelson Barss 01:08

But there are a lot of people who are very successful and happy with a team of three,

Liz Sears 01:13


Nelson Barss 01:13

Or two. And not necessarily even owning a business, but being a team, a production team. And the sales team. Yeah, within a company, right?

Liz Sears 01:21


Nelson Barss 01:22

And so we want to talk about that and talk about the pros and cons between running a team versus running a company, right?

Liz Sears 01:31

Because there are definitely pros and cons to each one.

Nelson Barss 01:33

And you and I have done both. Right. We both had teams.

Liz Sears 01:36


Nelson Barss 01:37

Within another company. And now we both have our own companies. And we run a company and a team. Right?

Liz Sears 01:44

Right, Because we have our own personal little group inside of our larger company that we're growing.

Nelson Barss 01:49

Can you talk a little bit about what's, what's different for you? Why did you make the move? And how has it changed for you, since you decided to step up from just a team to a company.

Liz Sears 02:01

So I'll preface this by saying that sometimes I wake up and I look at my calendar, and I look at my schedule and my task list. And I think was really what I wanted to do, did I really want to bite off this much to chew? But then there's other days when I wake up, and I am so excited, and there's not a right way. I mean, the the reasons that have driven me to start a company, as opposed to a team inside of a company, simply are right for me. And it doesn't mean that it's the right decision for everybody. And so for me, what caused me to want to start a company instead, is because I felt like there was a big missing piece inside of the real estate industry. You know, like we've talked about on previous episodes, of just wanting to have the amount of support that's necessary for a new agent to truly be successful if they're willing to show up and do the work. And then also the support that's necessary, so that successful agents still have lifestyle, still have quality of life. And to have that all inside of one single structure, you know, plug in, ready, go, plug and play. That's what I was trying to say. And so that was what really drove me I had seen a lot of people that were amazing fail out of the business. And all I could think is how you guys are so capable, and so willing to do what it takes, but there was just that missing piece of support that they needed. The second thing that caused me to want to do this is because I found a partner that was as committed as me and I didn't have to do it alone. And partnerships are tricky. There's, in fact, we could probably do a whole episode on if you're going to partner up how to do so successfully. Giving just a quick CliffsNotes on how we decided to do it is she had already just recently left a failed partnership. She got into it with family. I think I've mentioned that before, as well. And so when we did it decided to consider partnering. We spent four months going through all of the different things that would be necessary in order to make sure that we fully knew what we were getting into. We fully knew what to expect. We did a two year I call it a prenup, but basically a way to to back out and just take what we brought to the table and split what was left to make sure that it was a good fit for us. And

Nelson Barss 04:21

Thats smart. I've never heard of that before.

Liz Sears 04:23

Yeah, it was it was really cool. So we dictated what we each brought to the table and then if there was anything above and beyond that, it would just be split equally as best as we could. And it was kind of fun the night that it was hitting its two year mark. We were actually doing a couple's golf league together for fun and we were at the restaurant that night. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, Shannon our prenup ends in two hours. She's like we should toast to that. So it was kind of fun to have a whole group of friends that were with us for it. And so it was just wanting to have a bigger reach, to have you know, all of the things that we wanted to put into place impact more than just me and my small team, we wanted to impact more. And it's a different beast to run a company, as opposed to a team. How about you? What caused you to?

Nelson Barss 05:15

You know, I think I never really was as motivated. When I had someone else's logo on my shirt, right, I just, I didn't know it at the time. But as soon as I. And the reason I made it move is I wanted to have more control,

Liz Sears 05:29

You wanted to be independent, Utah Independent

Nelson Barss 05:32

I wanted to be able to really design the process.

Liz Sears 05:34


Nelson Barss 05:35

And when I was in another company, another guy's office for whatever reason, I couldn't do that. Right, it was just following their process. And a lot of I think a lot of people in our industry, they shop around to find a good spot to plug in and work. And then when it stops working, they just try to find another place and plug in and work. And they're constantly hunting for this, this dream of someone else who's designed a great process, and they can just send their clients through. That process, right. And I just hadn't found it. And I was eager to create it for myself and be able to hire people and tell them how to work for me, right. So it was a control thing, and also a pricing thing. I wanted to have better rates and fees for my clients. And but what I noticed after I did it is that soon, it wasn't even after it did, as soon as I made the decision, and committed to doing it, I got way more creative.

Liz Sears 06:29

Me too

Nelson Barss 06:29


Liz Sears 06:30


Nelson Barss 06:30

It's like, all these ideas, and

Liz Sears 06:32

You have a hard time sleeping, because you're like, I can do this. Yeah.

Nelson Barss 06:36

Just a different commitment level. I think the other reason is, I didn't I'm not good at politics, office politics. And, you know, when you got to, even if I, even if I opened a branch of another mortgage company,

Liz Sears 06:51

You still have to play in their field Yep

Nelson Barss 06:52

You still got to get their permission for everything you want to do. You still got to kind of kind of work your regional managers relationships. If you want to open a new office, you want to hire somebody, they're gonna say, Well, you know, do a little more production first and give me three months of this. And then you can do that. And I didn't want to do that I, I'm just not, I'm not good at pushing against boundaries, I tend to live inside the boundaries. And so it was my way to just choose the boundaries and make my home. And I don't regret it. I guess I don't always regret it. Sometimes I do. We're going to talk about that. We're gonna go through where to compare what, you know, really, what are the pros and cons and the different things you got to think about when you're trying to decide how big you want to be? Right?

Liz Sears 07:36

Well, and I think we should even compare starting a company alone or starting a company with a partner. Because as you were talking about the different boundaries, asking for permission, things like that, Shannon's and my relationship is that we ask for permission on anything that's bigger, but we also give a lot of trust and latitude to the other party. So we're able to still kind of be a check for each other. But at the same time, there's quite a few times like for this podcast, I'm like, I really want to do this. I think it's gonna be good for our company for brand recognition for helping people know what we're all about. And she's like, that's more than I've ever paid for a podcast. I'm like, Yeah, but it's film and pieces and all this stuff. And she said, Okay, I trust you run with it. So

Nelson Barss 08:16

Great. All right. So let's talk about this. Let's talk about the differences. First. First thing I want to just discuss is HR. Yeah. So if you have a team

Liz Sears 08:27

Inside of another brokerage

Nelson Barss 08:28

Inside another organization.

Liz Sears 08:30

Organization, yes.

Nelson Barss 08:31

Whether I mean, this could apply to just about any field, right?

Liz Sears 08:34


Nelson Barss 08:35

The benefit, one benefit of doing it inside an organization is that you don't really have to do anything about HR. Somebody else does HR. Somebody else has already shopped around for benefits, and met with the vendors and meets with them once a year and makes the decisions on what to offer

Liz Sears 08:53

And stays up to date on how to pay regular pay over time holiday pay.

Nelson Barss 08:58

The laws, right?

Liz Sears 08:59


Nelson Barss 09:00

Somebody else onboards your people for you know, they go through the paperwork, the the legal process, especially, you know, depending on industry, in our industry, there's background checks, there's all kinds of different blacklists that have to be checked, right? licensing issues and bringing them on. Somebody else does all that for you. And when you own your own company, you don't have to do it yourself. But you have to train someone else, hire someone else or outsource it.

Liz Sears 09:30

And you have to make sure that they're doing it correctly. So when the emails come in from ADP saying, Did you know this change in the law, you know, it's your job to make sure that gets communicated to your HR department?

Nelson Barss 09:40

Yeah. I'll give one example. Payroll. Well,

Liz Sears 09:43


Nelson Barss 09:44

And payroll is part of this HR process, right? So we made a switch in our payroll processor. We were using a national company, we would just log on to their website and submit the stuff but their website wasn't working. And it was frustrating. So my office manager came to me and said, I want to change So we interviewed some people, and we made a choice and we went with somebody. And it was, it was a nightmare, right? Just total nightmare, we finally had to leave and go with another, we decided to end up doing it in house with QuickBooks ourselves. And but the time and money that I've spent this year, on switching from one payroll vendor to another, to going in house, and the CPA who has to sort the mess out and his hourly rate, and keeping us current, and then the notices we get from the IRS that say you didn't pay your payroll taxes in first quarter, when really we did. But it was it was a mess. I think I'm not kidding, I think five grand, because what I've paid just in

Liz Sears 10:40

Just to cleanup

Nelson Barss 10:41

Just CPA, hourly fees to sort through the mess, right? And that's just stuff you don't have to deal with. If you're in an organization, you're just running a team, you don't have to do it. Right.

Liz Sears 10:53


Nelson Barss 10:55

However, I think on the positive side of that is, I'm able to do some pretty cool things. For My People, you know, like, we do a $1,500, home buying grant for any employee that buys a house,

Liz Sears 11:08

That's awesome.

Nelson Barss 11:09

And it comes out of the company, right? I get to determine the bonus structure for my teams, I can I can incentivize how I want to incentivize, I can change it when I want to change it.

Liz Sears 11:19


Nelson Barss 11:19

And I don't need anybody's approval to do it, other than the laws and the compliance that I have to keep up on. Right. What else, what about retention?

Liz Sears 11:28

Well, actually, let's come back to payroll for just a minute, because it kind of goes hand in hand with that as the bookkeeping, like, I did not realize how extensive bookkeeping is, especially for a real estate company, because we have a trust account. And you can get significant fines, if you are not on point with tracking your money going into the trust account out of it into the operating account in a timely manner, making sure the checks to go don't get deposited into the wrong account, and a drop of a hat, you could have to show your books and prove that you reconciled every single month. And that has been surprisingly more complex than I expected. Especially when we crossed state lines and went into Idaho. And now we have you know, both of those, and we have to you know, keep it all straight. That's something you don't have to worry about.

Nelson Barss 12:13

So I had an opportunity, I always get opportunities to join mortgage companies, right, they just recruit, Hey, bring your team be a part of us. So I've talked to him sometimes is one company is really interested in, and it seemed great, they would say they would, they would collect $900 For every loan. And then the benefit was, well, we'll take care of all of the accounting, all the HR, all of the marketing all these things, then I added up how much $900 per loan is on a monthly basis. You know, our office is closing anywhere from 40 to 80 loans a month, right? And I can hire a lot of good people, I can outsource to a lot of good companies, I can work with my 40 to 80 grand for that much money, I can definitely afford it. Right? So there's a trade off. And I think I can do it for a lot less than 40 to 80 grand a month, and I can have more flexibility. Yeah. But the question I think that you have to ask yourself is on all of these bullet points we're going to talk about is, do I want to spend my time and energy on that? Or do I want to just do business? Do I just want to sell? Right?

Liz Sears 13:20

And sometimes it's worth it. Especially if you don't yet have it built out? So because building it from scratch can take a lot of time and a lot of trial and error. So making sure that you have the right guidance as you do the process.

Nelson Barss 13:33

Okay, so what else? Let's talk about office space.

Liz Sears 13:37


Nelson Barss 13:38

So let's say you're building your team, you're inside an organization. You know, you think about some of the branches I was in, I had one room. And then if I wanted to hire an assistant, there might be a cubicle in the basement that I could put them in part time. Or they could work from home.

Liz Sears 13:54

Or they could share your office with you, Or they could come and be in the same room with me, right? I've done that a few times, that's a little tough at times. Even though he was sitting on

Nelson Barss 13:59

Or I could, I could go and lease my own space. And then I'm starting to open a branch and it becomes different than running a team. Right? So one thing about office space that I that I had a, you know, when I do my coaching calls, I get on with other loan officers around the country and there was a guy, he was so frustrated because he wanted to open a bigger office, he was ready. And he had a couple $100,000 of branch money sitting there on the books, wasn't his money, he couldn't get it, but it was profit that the branch had earned. And the only way he could get it is to gradually increase his commission split over time and draw that down. Right. And yet his company wouldn't let him sign a lease on a new space. Even though he had all that money and he had all this track record. The company corporate gurus somewhere halfway across the country were telling him is just not the right time to sign a five year lease and, you know, so no. And and he was mad and he wanted to leave, but they had him hostage with that 2- $300,000 in the branch that wasn't technically available to him unless he changed his comp plan and drew it down slowly. So you can get trapped too, right? Depending on your industry and what you do, but when it comes to office space, I think it really is a political thing. You have to, you have to beg, you have to earn it, right. You have to, and I just hate the Hey, think about it, you know, get your production up a little bit and come back to me in three months. And, you know, I am not a fan of that kind of stuff. So that's one reason why I enjoy having my own company, right.

Liz Sears 15:33


Nelson Barss 15:33

Any thoughts on that on your side?

Liz Sears 15:35

Yeah. So here's a few things that are going on with us in our office spaces we had when we very first opened, we got a sublease of space in Clearfield, Utah. And it was perfect for us, although we outgrew it within about six months, but then we would just like squeez in, we had our training room and our front office space, and we would spread out between everywhere to try to get everybody in attendance. Then we opened our second space up in Logan. And then we had enough expansion that we've actually leased just office space down in Lehi. Well, then we have this new office building that's being built out in our sublet wouldn't go month to month with us. And so we ended up having to just let that one go. And we were told our new office space would be done in October. And now we've been told it won't be till April or May. And so we've been homeless since you know, July. And that's been a little bit tough. I think it's really hurt the unification of our team. And so that's a burden and a risk that you have when you're with you know, you have your own company is sometimes securing office space in a way that works perfect for your team was a little tougher. When we were at our previous brokerage, we actually did okay, getting office space, to have offices right next door, they are pretty flexible with us. So I guess it also depends on which brokerage you're with. Although I will say that our new space is amazing, is going to be so cool. And I'm so excited for it, it's going to have like 10 phone booths that people can go in and it's soundproof, and then it's going to have this big open area of people are working on social media and other stuff. That's just kind of the urban cool office. Yeah, everybody together. Yeah, me either. That's awesome. So and, and there's a lot of risk with it too, because our three office spaces together total, you know, seven, eight grand a month. And so that's, that's a significant overhead that you don't have when you're in somebody else's brokerage. Generally, it's not that high.

Nelson Barss 17:31

One of the things about being in a company and being on a team is you can never go below zero.

Liz Sears 17:37


Nelson Barss 17:38

Right. And as a business owner,

Liz Sears 17:40

You can

Nelson Barss 17:41

You can go way below zero, you can have negative 50,000 in income. On a given month, right, depending on how big your team is. And there's a trade off there, right, the upside is bigger. The downside is way bigger, when you're on your own. I've had to be careful, because I'm in my office, some of the loan officers, they have a team that's bigger than what they have earned at this point, right? And I want to let them do it. I want to let them do it. But we came up with a comp plan that says, Okay, you pay for your team, if your production doesn't warrant a team. And then the question came up. Okay, so what happens if they have to pay for their team? And they don't have production for a few months? Are you going to carry that forward until they do get Commission's? And my thought was no, they're not business owners? They can't go below zero, right? The worst month, they can have a zero and we're not going to drag it on and have it be anyway. So I think that's a big one. Right? The fixed cost and the risk involved? It's significantly different.

Liz Sears 18:38

Yeah. So it's kind of the whole fixed versus variable expenses that you have.

Nelson Barss 18:43

Yeah. So how about liability? Let's talk about the liability and risk of just being a team leader, building your team within an organization versus having your company, you guys have probably as much liability as me maybe more with that trust account, talk about what you take on as liability.

Liz Sears 19:02

So I'm taking on this liability. You know, I mentioned, you know, just a minute ago about how trust account, they are so insanely picky. If a check gets deposited into the wrong account, you need to be immediately moving it over tracking why and such and you cannot commingle funds at all. Other liability, too, is just you are the one renting the space if somebody trips and falls, and if anything goes array, you're the one as the broker owner that ultimately is responsible if your agents aren't performing, whereas if you're a team inside of another company or and that company is the basically the umbrella liability for it. So that's kind of the risks with that.

Nelson Barss 19:47

Yeah. And I think you can protect yourself quite a bit from liability, right. That's the whole idea of having a corporation.

Liz Sears 19:53

Oh, yeah. Let's pause on that too. I love using that phrase. Have you noticed is making sure as a brokerage that you have the right insurance policies in place. So we have a few different ones that we have the ENO insurance, we have the, the building and property insurance. And maybe that's it, maybe it's just those two. How about you with that?

Nelson Barss 20:13

Yeah, we have an ENO policy, we have some bonding based on different states where we operate. I think one of the biggest risks for us is just compliance with the mortgage laws, you know?

Liz Sears 20:25

Yes, making sure that your people are totally educated. And

Nelson Barss 20:28

And not even making sure I understand it as the owner of the company and can train my people. If someone in my office, you know, does some fraud, they take me down with them. Right? If if there's not evidence that I manage, and oversee and train against those type of things, then I can be just as liable just as I can. I can lose my license super fast. So that's a big risk to me. The liability also in, you know, for example, IRS stuff, I had a business 10 years ago, we got, we got in pretty big trouble with our payroll withholdings, and not sending them in. And when we finally went out of business, you know, there was probably like, $50,000 of payroll withholdings that we hadn't sent to the IRS.

Liz Sears 21:16

Oh, really?

Nelson Barss 21:18

Because we were using the money. And, you know, they slapped my hand pretty hard. And I ended up

Liz Sears 21:23

that was a hard time. 10 years ago, though.

Nelson Barss 21:25

Well and I just wiped out my 401K to pay it and moved on. Right. But that's a that's a big risk. Because because they will they will lein your home, they will the IRS doesn't play games with that kind of stuff.

Liz Sears 21:37

Yeah, you know, I've heard, I'm trying to think of which book it was. Or maybe it was a podcast, I was listening to where somebody was saying, you know, the, the worker versus the business owner, you know, the business owner wouldn't have anything without the worker, you know, if the worker is not there to make the pencils, they're like, Yeah, but the business owner invested, how much money to buy all the equipment, buy all the supplies, everything like that, if the business goes under, the employee can just walk away, whereas the business owner has all of that financial risk, you know, so risk versus reward can be really huge. So, as a business owner, running an entire company, rather than a team inside of it, you have bigger risk reward opportunity,

Nelson Barss 22:16

I'd say, if you're going to run your team inside of an organization, part of your job, then is to make sure that the organization is sound when it comes to compliance, and the IRS and, you know, so that you can, I used to look at it, like, when I was within a large company, I wanted to just keep my head down and work and do loans, right. And I said to myself, I'm going to let the higher ups, put their head up and look around and figure out where the industry is going, and what products they need to be able to offer and what laws are changing, and they will tell me when I need to know, and they will keep me compliant, and I'm just gonna keep my head down and do loans. And then one day, my organization failed me. They they didn't provide the products that I needed. They took away some products that I needed that other lenders still had. Right? And so it's not always cut and dry. But in that situation, that was one reason why I left. It was like, you know, what, if I wasn't here, if I was anywhere else, I would still have this product that was making me a lot of money. And I lost it. Right? So yeah, it's interesting discussion, I just, I just think even if you're within an organization, as long as you can trust the organization, as long as they have the right things, I think you can really, you can really drive a lot of business, a lot of volume, you can make just as much money, most of the guys in my coaching program. So we talked about the core a lot. There's 500 students, okay

Liz Sears 23:45


Nelson Barss 23:45

I would say 490 of them are employed by another organization, they run a branch of a different mortgage company, there are very few like me who have their own mortgage brokerage, because they see the value of just selling.

Liz Sears 24:01


Nelson Barss 24:01

And I think for me, part of the reason why I started my own company is as an avoidance tactic, right, it's like, give myself less time to just sell. And then and, like, let me share in some profits from some other guys to take some burden off of me for just selling. And I think the guys who are really successful, they're not trying to make money off other people. They're just like, I'm gonna build my team. I'm gonna grow and I'm dont want to own a company. I don't want to make pennies off of other guys. I want to make dollars off my own loans. And grow a team.

Liz Sears 24:33

Yeah. And and you do make a lot more money from personal production generally. And yet, you do have a cap. Yeah. And so there's only so much that you can do even as you leverage, you're still gonna have a cap until you hire another Rainmaker. And so then it's the question of, can you do that hiring more rainmakers as a team inside of another company? Or does it make more sense to open your own? So let's talk a little bit about the hiring and retention difference between a team and a brokerage. So, inside of a team, the hires that you have are generally just like marketers, and a personal assistant, and maybe some more rainmakers or people to help facilitate. But then when you have hires for a company, on top of that, you have your HR, you have your employees, you have your operations employees, you have receptionist. You have all of those other

Nelson Barss 25:31

Plus the outsourced people, right? Maybe a bookkeeper maybe a CPA

Liz Sears 25:34

Bookkeeper is huge. In fact, I just realized there was something I had thought of when you were talking before, but I was so engrossed with it, I forgot, is that when you own your own company, it is absolutely critical to be hyper aware of exactly what your p&l is every single month, not just knowing what money is coming in. But knowing if it's allocated, according to what is common for the industry, are you overspending in areas under spending in areas so that you're maximizing your impact with the dollars you have coming in? So Shannon, and I do a mini one just inside of our brokerage, looking at our own personal books, three weeks, and then on the fourth week, we bring in our actual bookkeeper who's putting it all into QuickBooks for us for the accountant. And they're the ones who almost CFO us, you know, that's helped us make sure that we've got numbers right

Nelson Barss 26:25

Tell you where you need to make changes. That's a whole nother meeting in your hour in your weekly schedule and your monthly schedule.

Liz Sears 26:31

Yeah, so I guess that's something I didn't mention in the last episode, Mondays at 130.

Nelson Barss 26:35


Liz Sears 26:35

130 to two.

Nelson Barss 26:36

Yeah. And that's I mean, that's Think about how many I think about how many meetings I do. Because I'm running a company, not just a branch or a team, right. And I spent a lot of time this summer, let's talk about.

Liz Sears 26:51

Yeah, let's talk about which meetings have to fit in your schedule as a business owner, right, instead of a team.

Nelson Barss 26:56

Okay, so I have a daily meeting with my office manager every morning for half an hour. Okay, we talk, we sign checks, we talk about payroll, we're talking about who's getting hired and fired and whatever, right. Fortunately, I have an amazing office manager, and she really handles most of everything else, so that I can do it all in a half hour day. I can

Liz Sears 27:17

Thats the best.

Nelson Barss 27:17

I can answer her questions, but she runs the office very well. What other meetings do you have?

Liz Sears 27:24

So besides my financial meetings on Monday, I have my empowered SOLs meeting. And that's just the name of our company. It's SOLs is Shannon Olson, Liz Sears SOLs, which is where we do our big picture goals. That's where we step back from all the minutia that we get sucked into, and we say, Okay, what's the. We start off by saying, Are we still on the same page? Is there anything between us that we need to work through, which has been huge, because sometimes there'll be just those teeny little things that kill the dinosaur while it's small, and it's so much better to be super in sync. And then we say, you know, what are our big next steps that we want to do? And some of them will say, Okay, that's a big next step. We're not going to tackle yet, but we want to keep it on our radar. And sometimes it's like, okay, this is the one that we're deep in, let's, let's take it to the next level. And then I have my operations manager. So I meet with the operation side, Shannon meets with the sales side. And so we each have our meeting. And then those people in charge of that educate everybody else on what happened in the meeting. So it's not Shannon's responsibility to tell me what's going on in the sales meeting it's the sales manager. And it's not my burden to tell Shannon, what's going on in operations. It's our operations director. So those two meetings, we have an expansion meeting every week. So we already have an expansion team up into Idaho. And we're looking at adding four more states within the next couple years. So the people that will run the expansion, branches and brokerages. We meet with them once a week for half an hour. And

Nelson Barss 28:54

The thing is like these meetings sound enjoyable.

Liz Sears 28:57

They are really fun, creative.

Nelson Barss 28:58

They're not just a burden.

Liz Sears 29:00


Nelson Barss 29:00

If you like that kind of stuff, if you want to, you know, you get you get to interact with a lot of different people and drive different goals than you would if you just didn't have your own company. Right?

Liz Sears 29:11

Yeah. Because there'd be no reason to do that stuff. You're just ducking your head and working. So it allows for a lot more creation. I think.

Nelson Barss 29:17

So. For me, the meetings, I was just thinking about most of my meetings, I think would still happen. But I would do them with my little team instead of the whole company. Right? So we would do you know, we do it like a monthly thing where we review numbers. We do call coaching. We do, you know, team training once a week and we do with every one I'm trying to change train everyone, but I think it would be different if I was doing call coaching with my assistant, instead of a loan officer, right? I would listen to her calls. And those are things I don't even do right now. Because I'm just booked up, and I'm trying to run the company. Okay, so let's talk about marketing.

Liz Sears 29:54


Nelson Barss 29:56

So when it comes to marketing, how is it different when you're within a team compared to if you own your own company,

Liz Sears 30:02

Within a team. So I guess it depends on what all marketing you're doing. Because honestly, when we were a team inside of a different brokerage, we did have quite a bit of the same marketing, because we market our listings

Nelson Barss 30:17

Did they provide for you things like material, graphic design,

Liz Sears 30:22

They did, but it didn't quite match the branding of our team that we wanted. And so we tended to create a lot of our own. I'm trying to think of what's, what's different now about the marketing that we do is we're trying to do it on a bigger scale to recruit and grow our business. So marketing our properties is pretty much the same. Other than now, we're using those a little bit to help attract agents, but then we're doing a ton of agent, attraction marketing,

Nelson Barss 30:48

You know, I think I'm thinking about like, let's say you're an insurance agent, and you're you could either work for State Farm, or you can have your own independent thing, right?

Liz Sears 30:57


Nelson Barss 30:58

If you worked for State Farm, you're not really dealing with a lot of graphic designers, you're not really thinking about

Liz Sears 31:02

Because you have to match their branding.

Nelson Barss 31:03

Logos and colors. They're doing Superbowl ads. Right. And you're, you just run in your little office, and you're using their marketing, their flyers, their whatever, right? I think if you find yourself recreating the wheel, it may be a sign that you might be better off on your own.

Liz Sears 31:20

That's a really good point.

Nelson Barss 31:21

Because you're paying for those graphic designers, you're paying for that brand that's been built by StateFarm. And why are you doing it twice? Right? Because you're also putting time and money into your own campaigns, your own branding?

Liz Sears 31:35

Yeah, as real estate, you can have your own team look, even though you need to include incorporate, you know, the brokers branding. And maybe there's some other companies out there that have the opportunity to have their own team looking logo and feel. So yeah, I think you're exactly right. If you really are starting to find yourself recreating the wheel, that might be a good sign that maybe it's time

Nelson Barss 31:56

You're building a different brand, right?

Liz Sears 31:59


Nelson Barss 32:00

In our industry, I, you know, I have a graphic designer on retainer, we meet once a week on a zoom call. She's constantly doing flyers. Facebook posts content, like image images, right? She's doing a recruiting packet for me, I business cards just, it's almost constant, right? And when I was in other companies that was all created and very professional, and all you did is login, download it, and it has your picture on it and you send it out.

Liz Sears 32:34

That's true. Actually, our previous brokerage did have that they had a ton of content that like you said, just put your photo your name, you're done,

Nelson Barss 32:40

Right. And if you're the kind of person that likes to get distracted, or likes to not prospect, and so you want to design fliers you want to meet with graphic designers. You know, maybe that's a crutch. Maybe that's, you know, again, I think if you want to just be a salesperson, there's a lot to be said about putting your team inside an organization that takes away all of the distractions from brass tacks sales. And just doing the work. Right.

Liz Sears 33:08


Nelson Barss 33:09

What about time management? So we talked about all the meetings. One of the challenges for me, because I own a company with time management is all of the interruptions, all the distractions. You know, the open door policy sucks.

Liz Sears 33:26


Nelson Barss 33:26

Because as soon as it's open the policy is everybody lines up outside the door to talk.

Liz Sears 33:30

Well, there are two quotes that I absolutely love. And I cannot remember if I've mentioned them already, and I think I have, but one of them is, in fact, I'm thinking about getting these framed and putting them in our office once our office is done. But it says Be Bright, Be brief, Be gone. So come in and share your brilliant idea briefly leave, you know. And another one is if the person you're talking to during business hours isn't going to make you any money, five minutes or less.

Nelson Barss 33:58


Liz Sears 33:59

So but I do think that like you were saying the interruptions, you have such a higher quantity of people. Who are you got a minute, you know, can I run this past you type thing. So something Shannon I have actually talked about that might make a difference is blocking time like this is your broker on demand for this piece of time. But when you're on a team, like how is it different for you, and you had a team versus a company?

Nelson Barss 34:26

Okay, so I can picture myself sitting inside the office where I used to work, right? And there were probably 20 people milling around just like there are now none of them came to me with questions. Right? You just they went elsewhere with questions because I was not

Liz Sears 34:41

The Broker

Nelson Barss 34:42

Manager or the broker or the leader of any of them. I had one assistant and he and I would talk quite a bit and he would come in with questions, but they were they were questions about my loans and my clients and they were more pertinent to me, right.

Liz Sears 34:56


Nelson Barss 34:56

Now the kinds of questions I get are Hey, so and so wants the 23rd off. But there's already two other processors with the 23rd off. And I'm, you know, I think it's, it's a it's a bad job in like giving people more freedom and delegating on a bigger, better level, right? I think there's an ego stroke of being the guy who has to answer all the questions that I'm trying to get away from getting these, you know, giving people more authority. But it's also like, reasonable things like, hey, I got a file that's blowing up, but I need your help. That's what you're here for. Right?

Liz Sears 35:33


Nelson Barss 35:34

You're the mentor, you're the owner of the company. You know about disgruntled clients. Before or after closing, we've had them show up at our office, and I've had to take an hour and talk to him for an hour or, you know, take over a loan that's, that's falling apart for a loan officer. And give away a lot of money and time and expertise to get it done.

Liz Sears 35:58


Nelson Barss 35:59

Those are all things that you wouldn't have, if you just had your own team, and you're doing your own deals.

Liz Sears 36:03

Yeah, another thing that happens sometimes is that if the team if the team is becoming, you know, everybody has ebbs and flows in their business, and when business is going really well, most everybody is content. And when business starts to drop, those are almost always the ones who have problems. And when people start to have problems, they start to complain, they start to, you know, and it can really hurt the morale. And so as a business owner, I have found that it's so much more time consuming to have to step in and address those things when they happen. And sometimes, you know, it's a half hour, sometimes it's a half day, sometimes, you know, you need to schedule it out for the next while. And the other tough thing about handling that type of size of morale issue is it's draining, it's hard to handle that get into the correct headspace and approach so that you can be most effective with that, and then shift out of that to get back to your job there that transition time can really be detrimental to your own personal business. So if you are a producing, which you and I both are running our brokerage, our team inside the brokerage as well, it can impact that. So having the lesser burden can sometimes feel easier. But then again, it's it's fun to also be that person to help them see the vision and reengage and such there's there's a reward that comes from that.

Nelson Barss 37:28

I think the question that we started with is a really good one, how big do I want to be because I think you can still find joy in mentoring and training on a smaller scale, right? If you have a team of three, and you're helping these two assistants learn the business and taking care of lots of clients. I mean, that can be fulfilling, I think, my own, you know, scale issues of like, hey, I want to do this on a bigger level, I want to teach more people, I want to be more of a mentor to more people, it's probably cost me quite a bit of money this year. You know, I look at my I look at my production and how much I've made, versus how much I would have made if I didn't have all these other things going on. Right. That's like, I probably would have made more money if I would have done all this inside of an organization. The question is, would I have done all of it?

Liz Sears 38:17

That's that's what I've also wondered, too, is that the whole creation, the excitement the getting everything going has, I believe actually caused my production to massively increase. And it's interesting, because last year, I had this massive surge of business. And this year, I'm about half and Shannon was exactly opposite. Last year, she was about half and this year, she's, you know, twice as much. And so we're hoping to go into next year, and both of us hit that same level, but higher, but there's just something about that whole creation that drives you more. There's excitement that people can see in your eyes, they can hear in your voice. I think if you've found that you've lost that there was a point where I just felt like I wasn't even selling myself anymore. Yeah

Nelson Barss 38:57

I was selling the logo on my shirt. We have in house underwriters, we have in house closers. We you should choose me as your loan officer. Yeah, like and I just found like, I didn't even have a soul anymore. I didn't have an identity. I wasn't even building my own book of business anymore. People weren't using me for me.

Liz Sears 39:15


Nelson Barss 39:16

Because I was even selling me and now we don't even have those things. And my business has grown. And I'm building a sustainable book of business because they're coming for me not for the ancillary things I used to sell. Right. Interesting, interesting conversation. Any other thoughts about how big do you want to be and how big do you want to be Liz?

Liz Sears 39:36

I want to be the biggest brokerage in the world.

Nelson Barss 39:39

You have big you have big goals.

Liz Sears 39:40

I do have big goals like when Shannon and I first teamed up we and we started building our two broker models. So the first one was based on new agents. The second one is based on seasoned agents and then we built the bridge between them. We already could see where it could go and purchased every domain in the continental United States. So my Washington agents, Texas agents, you know, things like that, knowing that we started out as a referral brokerage until we started opening branches in those places. So we're getting the referral side of our business that website up and running So, I, I envision, and then we just got landed our first builder, which is pretty big and created it in such a way that we could white label that to any builder who needs by the way, any builder who needs an in house or not in house, opposite of that source, real estate company that looks in house and is phenomenally on point. Oh my gosh, it was so fun building out that whole thing I felt like I was like back in that massive creation. But it is on point and really makes the builders look good and takes a lot of heat off of them. Because we know that's part of our job is to take that and so we want to real estate, builder relationships, referral based on that. And who knows, maybe we'll go international someday. Wow, I don't even know how that would work. I don't either. But

Nelson Barss 41:05

Do they just do that America. I mean, is there real estate outside of the US

Liz Sears 41:09

I dont know, I think so. Heard of that once.

Nelson Barss 41:13

I can't even look past the borders of Utah, like my vision ends at the borders of Utah.

Liz Sears 41:17

That's awesome.

Nelson Barss 41:19

For me, I really just, I have made a transition the last few months, our market has shifted a lot. There was just so much refinances happening, that I really built this whole company up on the idea of catching the wind, right, when the wind is strong, you put up your sails, and you make hay. Yep. And so we did that we we, we hired lots of people, we trained them, well, we had, you know, loan officers who were just just catching, you know, we were advertising for them, we were we did great. And I'm just finding now that the path forward for me is to focus on my team, you know, and for these loan officers, that's the path forward for them too they've got to learn to generate their own business, and lead their own team. And I'm going to, I'm going to really focus on me and my team, my goal is to have a team of me plus five, and I already have me plus four. So I need to add one more I want to generate 85 leads a month, right now i generate about 40 to 50. So I need to about double the number of leads I'm generating. And that will double the number of closings I have. And I think I could operate there for the rest of my career and be very happy.

Liz Sears 42:13

Perfect I love that.

Nelson Barss 42:30

And if I have a few loan officers who are doing the same thing on the side, great. If not, it doesn't really affect me, because I've learned it's really not where the money is anyway. Right?

Liz Sears 42:39


Nelson Barss 42:40

Their production is theirs, they're going to make most of the money on those deals.

Liz Sears 42:44


Nelson Barss 42:44

You know, and so, you know, as we talk about team versus company, you know, I think I'm very proud that I had the shift to company when I did, I think the timing was great, and was able to capitalize on it. And I think now the the direction for me is the opposite. It's just my team and growing my team and being more focused on loans that have my name on them, and not someone else's name as the originator.

Liz Sears 43:10

Yep. And you know, kind of to add to that, too, is one of the focuses that I really want to have as well is I'm going to also increase my personal business, probably not by double, but who knows, maybe, but I'm going to have much more focus where I am more participating from 930 to 1130. Because I allow brokerage and other things to bump my time a little bit, and I'm gonna get much more finite on that and set the example so that that agents who come in, will be able to also just come shadow me any day or work side by side, whatever. So they can see how I'm generating business and duplicate it much the way that you already do. And so as we build our company, that way, the agents who come in will have that consistency as well.

Nelson Barss 43:59

I don't really think the path that I would recommend, I feel strongly that you've got to build your team and your business first. If you aren't already producing at a very high level, it's hard to then just try to do it while you're building a company at the same time.

Liz Sears 44:14


Nelson Barss 44:14


Liz Sears 44:15

It's not impossible, but it's hard.

Nelson Barss 44:16

But if you can build up, you know, an awesome team that can be the standard and the example. Before you start your company. The other thing you're going to build up is capital, clients stability, right? And then it's not such a risk because you know you can have you don't have to borrow money to start your company you started with cash or even better started with no cash, grow just as you have revenue, right?

Liz Sears 44:41

Which is what you and I both highly recommend, if at all possible.

Nelson Barss 44:45

Ive tried it both ways. It's just much better to let the business pay for itself over time. Right. Well, good. Oh, awesome. Well, thanks for the conversation. I really appreciate it.

Liz Sears 44:56

Right back 'atcha

Nelson Barss 44:57

Yep. Okay, well, thanks for listening, and we'll see you guys next time.

Liz Sears 45:00

Thanks bye


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