We often hear from Accredited Staging Professionals® and those considering becoming Accredited Staging Professionals® who look for suggestions on how to build and grow their businesses. We put together some of the suggestions we have made and thought we would share them at our blog and social media channels.
#1. Do something productive every day to move yourself forward in your business.
Or in other words….DO SOMETHING!! It is amazing to me how many people just don’t do anything, or rarely do anything productive. Usually that is because of fear…fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of making a mistake. Some people will tell you that they don’t know what to do, but that is very rarely the real reason. If you just do something, anything, a little at a time you will pull yourself out of fear and challenges. It is true in your person life and in business, because my belief is that unless you do something productive every day you will not be successful.
#2. You have to market yourself and your business to be successful.
My personal opinion is that the biggest mistake that most people coming into this industry make is not marketing effectively. Without marketing you have no business. Let me repeat that. Without marketing you have no business.
I have seen many, many talented people come into the RE business or the Staging industry who love houses, love people, love Staging, and would make great Stagers or Realtors, but never “make it” because they expect the business to come to them. The business WILL eventually come to you, but ONLY after you work your tail off for a long time to promote yourself and market your business. In RE they tell you that it usually takes about two years for the referral business to start kicking in. Referral business is when people call you out of the blue and want to work with you because someone you worked with before tells them about you. In Staging I think it takes less time, (I’ve seen Stagers go out and have a thriving business in 3 months) but it still takes time and for most of you that will be somewhere between 6 months and a year. It all depends on how good you are at marketing yourself. Until that time you have to promote yourself all the time.
How do you market yourself effectively? Many of you aren’t comfortable with this. Admit it. You can still be a very effective marketer. How? One great way is to team up! I know of several successful Staging teams where one person is great at marketing, but not at some of the other aspects of the business. Many of the great marketers need your organizational, business or Staging skills.
There are other ways to market without the stress of meeting new people: You can mail, you can make phone calls, you can place ads, you can work on committees to get noticed. You can volunteer, you can do interviews. The Career Book is FABULOUS! If you are not using it, why not? It is the easiest way in the world to sell yourself without having to brag about yourself. All those things and more will increase your visibility without you having to go out and meet people constantly if you are uncomfortable doing it.
#3. Get organized and create systems.
A Staging business is like a pyramid (or an iceberg) where the very top little triangle is when you get to go out and Stage. Everything else supports it and if you don’t have the support the Staging work will suffer (or sink as in the case of the iceberg). You have to have basic accounting, inventory control, forecasting, marketing, advertising, etc in place for the Staging to take place. Just remember one thing…don’t get hung up on this! I’ve seen some get so involved in creating great systems that you don’t do the most important thing, which is…MARKETING!
#4. Continue to educate yourself to stay ahead of the pack.
I have noticed this in the RE industry for years. Many of the agents who come to seminars are the top producers who are smart enough to know that they don’t know everything. And guess what, those are typically the ones with all the initials behind their names and they are the ones that are the most successful and are making the most money.
Don’t become complacent. If you think you know everything your business is probably in trouble or will be soon. The easiest and most important thing you can do is to repeat the ASP Course. There is sooooo much to learn in the two or three day course that it is simply impossible for a normal human being to absorb all of the information. There are just too many ideas and nuances. Its easy! Its cheap! And we have fabulous trainers doing classes all over the US and Canada where you can come. Hey, wrap it around a vacation, its deductible! (Ask your CPA) Actually the easiest thing you could do is to reread your outline at least six times. Write it down!! .
#5. Create a network and a support system of others that can help you in your business.
Join a local IAHSP Chapter or join one of the remote chapters. The whole idea of the local chapters of IAHSP is to create groups where ASPs can help, support, mentor, share ideas and help educate the world about Staging. Almost all of the chapters are doing a great job of this. If your chapter is less that it could be, work to participate and help in any way that you can. It will come back to you many times over. I’ve seen it happen over and over, and the only reason that chapters have challenges is when someone or one’s egos get in the way. Please write this down: Chapters thrive when ASPs put their egos aside and work to help others.
Don’t forget your friends and family as their understanding of what you do and their support is critical. Show them your Career Book. Share your success stories. Other people who can help and support you are the SBA and your CPA or attorney. And one of the best things I believe in is to be part of one or more groups such as Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, BNI, WCR, Soroptomists, etc, etc. These groups not only are great for networking and marketing, but you will develop camaraderie and friendships there that will provide you with sounding boards and help for you in your business
#6. Have reliable people who can help you. Don’t try to do it alone.
Hopefully you all learned the benefits of working with other ASPs during the Staging project in the ASP Course that you took, but if not I strongly recommend you develop of network of ASPs people who can help you… especially those are other ASPs. The benefits of your ASP community are wonderful. Not only is this for the creativity and synergy that comes from working with others, but also and some times more importantly for the physical part of Staging. Most of you are women and moving furniture can be hard work, especially if you have to haul your accessories or rental furniture up three flights of stairs and down a long hallway in that condo project. When you work with other ASPs just make sure that they show you proof of insurance. Without insurance you are asking for trouble.
#7. Invest in inventory.
Some Stagers only Stage vacant homes. Some Stagers only do Consultations and never actually Stage. Some only Stage and never do consultations. Some ASP Real Estate Agents never Stage and some have inventories and Stage all of their listings. How you do your business is definitely up to you. However, most successful Stagers have some kind of an inventory to use and to rent. Why? Profit! Renting your own inventory can be very profitable. If you don’t have an inventory yet that’s ok. Don’t go out and buy one tomorrow. Start slow and gradually add to it as you can afford more. Start with accessories that are light and that can be used over and over again.
#8. Develop your presentation skills. Back to marketing!!
What do we teach you in the ASP Course? “Let me tell you how I work”. Learn it. Practice it.
The pros practice, refine and continue to get better. Barb is a very gifted speaker who has a god given natural talent, but she also continuously works at practicing and refining what she says. Every word counts as she constantly reminds me. Once she knows how to get an idea across in the best possible way she stays with what works. She doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. That’s where her sayings come from…practice, practice, refine and practice. “The way you live in a home….”
There is no reason why you can’t learn and practice several versions of “Let me tell you…” a 10 second elevator version, a 30 sec, a 60 sec, plus a 15 min or whatever. Barb has a 60 minute version she uses when interviewed by the press. You simply HAVE want to sound confident and natural with every person you talk to or every group you speak in front of.
#9. Believe in yourself…Reward yourself…Pace yourself
Self-confidence is easy to talk about, but how to you get it and keep it, especially if you are new to business or if things aren’t going your way it is absolutely critical to believe in yourself. Having a support group helps as I mentioned before, but believing in your soul that you are doing the right things is the real test of your passion and conviction. The best thing I can say is going back to our number one point…go out each day and do something productive. Its a chicken and egg situation, but once you start doing things, even little things, it helps breed confidence.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard about developing self confidence is very simple, but it works…fake it! Once you fake it you will undoubtedly put yourself in a confident mood, and once you are in a confident mood you can and will do productive things. It really does foster more of the same.
Reward yourself by taking time off. Working 24/7 is fine for a while but no one can do it all the time. It is important to take time for yourself to enjoy friends and family and pursue your hobbies. I also know that most successful people I know take regularly scheduled vacations. To work hard for extended amounts of time you and your body have to have a proportional amount of down time to refresh and recharge.
#10. Use your Intuition! Have FUN!!!
Intuition is something we all have. It is a knowingness, a hunch, an inner voice, a little voice speaking to you, GOD, an angel on your shoulder. The problem is that most of us just don’t trust it. So the reason I’ve added this last point is because one thing that Barb does more than any person I’ve ever met is to listen to and trust her intuition…without fail!! That is how she runs her life and Stagedhomes.com. I think we can all learn from that. It works in business as well as your personal life.
So try it. Listen to that voice and work on trusting it more and more and think you’ll find that amazing things will happen in your life and in your business.
Article written by
Kirk Bohrer, ASPM, IAHSP®
Category: Accredited Staging Professional ® Course, ASP Home Staging Training, ASP Online Home Staging Training, ASP Staging Stories, Barb Schwarz, Home Staging Articles, international association of home staging professionals, Stagedhomes.com