Starting from scratch in a new industry means earning everything from opportunities to meeting investors to the trust of your customers.
If you’re in a particularly traditional industry such as law, accounting, or real estate, getting your first customers can be even more difficult. Not only are you competing with other professionals, but you’re also pushing your way into the ingrained hierarchy of your region, whether you are in a small Midwestern town or a city like LA or Chicago.
However, there is a lot to learn in order to build trust from those who have managed to succeed as newcomers in an area steeped in tradition. One of those people is Adam Olsen, a Houston real estate agent who got into the field when he was 18 and built a successful agency in his early twenties.
I spoke to him to get his insights on how he could win the trust of his clients not only as a newbie in the field but also as a very young agent in a highly competitive market.
Shama Hyder: Getting into real estate as a teenager must have been a challenge. How were some of your first meetings with customers? What were some of the initial challenges?
Adam Olsen: Some of my first meetings were a little tense or uncomfortable. Buying or selling a home is a serious endeavor, and it made some customers a little uncomfortable to entrust this important part of their future to someone who may have been the age of their own children. This scenario was challenging, but the hesitation and suspicion subsided when customers saw that I was actually able to compete with seasoned industry professionals. I am always grateful to customers whose opinion of me is based solely on my ability to bring them the best deal on any transaction, purchase or sale.
It is crucial that aesthetically pleasing marketing materials convey the company’s strengths. The Adam Olsen team’s Facebook page reaches approximately one million users per month, far more than any of our local competitors. It was an extremely reliable strategy to show potential clients that we are the only team that can promote their properties on a large scale on the internet. We relied heavily on digital marketing and it really paid off.
Hyder: How were or are people’s expectations of you – whether these people are customers or colleagues – influenced by your age?
Olsen: It is quite common in my job for older brokers or brokers to write off young ambitious brokers like they are over their heads or be stupid. When I started the company and my notoriety was low, people saw a fresh-faced broker at the head of a team, and their expectations matched those who saw them. The difference between now and at the beginning is in my credentials. At first, people were reluctant to work with a young man with little success. Now people are hiring me because I’ve proven myself
Hyder: What are some of the advantages of being new to an industry?
Olsen: For a while, it is better not to have a reputation. As a newbie, no one has many expectations before meeting you. Therefore, every interaction with a customer or colleague is an opportunity to shine.
Hyder: What would you say to other young entrepreneurs trying to find their way in very traditional fields where age and experience are often linked?
Olsen: Keep being loud! They can’t ignore you forever. Linking age and experience isn’t inherently wrong, but in real estate and related industries it’s supposed to be intimidating. Focus on your goal and mute the critics whose only criticism is your age or newcomer status.