Throughout my 15 year career, I was a banker who dreamed big, made a decent living and loved living the corporate life. I was also someone who always thought of making things better and challenging status quo.
Which is why the last 12 months have been remarkable for me for many reasons. I sold my first property. I quit my handsome paying job at a bank and became an entrepreneur. To say my life changed a tad bit would be an understatement. But it all started out with a strong belief and conviction that I could change things for the better.
So when I wanted to sell my apartment last year, I hired an agent to help me manage the process. It took over four months to find a suitable buyer, with my apartment simply advertised on various property websites in Singapore. I had to constantly chase my agent for updates and news from interested buyers. I was left scratching my head – surely there was more he had to offer for fees of $20,000. I would gladly pay for services that make my life better and make the process convenient. However, this was neither and I found the overall experience disappointing.
Although I didn’t get the level of service and information from my agent, I spent considerable time doing research on recently transacted property prices using government databases. In the process, I also gained valuable insights into how property transactions took place in Singapore, and how there was so much more that could be done to make the process simple. My home sales process sparked off a thought process that property transactions can and should be made simpler. That’s why I started Averspace, a digital mobile property app that helps you buy, sell or rent property directly.
I was baffled that technology hasn’t simplified the process of buying, selling and renting homes even more than what we see today. My background in banking had given me a solid grounding into processes, and I leveraged that to design a system that was more transparent and convenient. There is no doubt that the property market will evolve further in the future as we integrate technology even more into our lives, and I started to see how we could already start making a difference.
In this age of digital technology, most of the information is easily available on various websites. I can easily find out about the local infrastructure, shopping centers, proximity to public transportation and MRT lines. I can easily read about the various industry trends. I can find out about the historical transaction prices of various properties through government websites. Perhaps this is an industry that could be easily digitized to offer users greater control, easier search process, and automated contract structuring.
Since no other platform was doing it well enough, I decided to jump on the bandwagon of entrepreneurs who ‘are crazy enough to think that they can change the world’. I discovered that being an ‘entrepreneur’ is a mindset – you start looking for things to make better, and problems to solve. It’s a place I have enjoyed so far, as well as learned a lot from.
Here’s where I have had the biggest mindset shift ideas that have helped me become a better entrepreneur.
1. Talk to more people
The more people you can talk to, the more perspectives you gain. You start understanding the customers better, you start living their problems, and this perspective leads you to create solutions that make their lives better. It helps validate your business plan. It helps you create a product that people actually want. In my journey, I constantly talk to homeowners and landlords, and buyers and tenants. I ask them about their frustrations with the process and identify areas where things could be made simpler. This process of identifying problems to solve has made me a better entrepreneur.
2. People like having control
Most people like to keep things simple. They would go for systems that are transparent and easy to do. It makes them feel they are in control of the process instead of being blind and dependent on somebody’s else skills. Many people who have recently bought, sold or rented a property talked about how they didn’t know until the last minute whether the deal would go through. They also didn’t know what the market prices were and were dependent on the agent’s advice. I myself went through this process, and only after doing my own research did I feel confident.
3. Tell them a story
People love to hear stories. They will forget all the facts and statistics you throw at them, but they will remember your story. Using stories in business is not a new concept, but I saw how powerfully this worked when the property sellers were more willing to tell their potential buyers and tenants about the wonderful time they’ve had there, or the story about how it came to be. Stories create instant bonds, and we love to do business with people we like.
4. Sales will happen if you believe in your product
Most entrepreneurs hate the sales process, but business cannot exist if you don’t like selling. In my view, if you really believe in the product and the value it adds to people, the process of sales becomes less ‘salesy’. If you can communicate the benefits of your service with passion and genuineness, your sales will come.
5. Be prepared
Be prepared for potential questions and squash doubts about what you are doing. Have the facts ready. It is a lot more easy to talk about what you are doing and how it creates an impact when you know some of the major facts and statistics at the back of your hand. I’ve seen homeowners list their properties, but couldn’t remember where the nearest grocery store was, or how far the nearest MRT was. Those that did know their facts found it easier to sell. In my own experience, I talk to people about the property market in Singapore, and since I know the hard numbers, I feel much more confident about presenting my value proposition to potential customers.