Commercial Magazine

Get Back on Track

There are many paths to success, but change requires focus

By Garry Barnes

Are you achieving your goals? If so, you probably think, act and see the world differently. Most likely, you have become a different person than you were a few years ago. These are signs you are growing and evolving. Almost overnight, however, you are now facing a new challenge, possibly the biggest of your career.

What are the needed ingredients to thrive in the commercial real estate market during and after the COVID-19 pandemic? If you were to ask 10 experts, you would probably receive 10 different answers. It is clear, however, that you will need a good plan along with the ability to execute and draw upon your unique personal qualities to march through this latest crisis.

The following quote from Randall Lane of Forbes appropriately describes our current environment: “These are hard times for most, growth times for some — and instructive times for all. Everyone was a business genius in 2019. These, by contrast, are the moments when greatness truly shines, even if that greatness translates into just hanging on.”

Our world has changed and that means we must change. There are many unknowns and uncertainties in the current environment. It is incumbent upon us to size up the new financial landscape and reinvent ourselves once again.

Although we cannot be sure what the future will bring, we must prepare as best we can for it.

Adapting to change

It is probably too early to make any definitive statements about the societal changes resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, but we know the virus is harming the nation’s $20 trillion economy. The ultimate impact on commercial real estate will vary by sector and market, while the magnitude of these changes depends upon the length of the economic downturn.

In a best-case scenario, the economic reopening will be varied. Some businesses will recover faster than others. Some experts are predicting a second wave of the virus this fall, but nobody can forecast the degree of the economic impact. We can be sure the virus will continue to weigh heavily on the economy. We must be cautious as this pandemic is not over.

Depending on the economy in general and the real estate market in particular, there will be many changes in how we approach the business of mortgage financing going forward. As commercial mortgage brokers, we are concerned with the short- and long-term impacts on the financial markets. Although we cannot be sure what the future will bring, we must prepare as best we can for it. But how do we figure out the specifics of what to do?

In navigating through the unknown, the first step is to take inventory of what you actually know about your market, your performance, and your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Look at your volume of new business and your expenses. Are you still profitable? Whether you are trending up or down, this is a good time to evaluate your strategic plan. A well-considered plan will make the transition faster, less difficult and ultimately successful.

We all define success in different ways, but we can probably agree that success is the product of our vast experiences over years of commitment and hard work. To achieve any degree of success, we must think in new ways about ourselves and the future. To be successful, we must be willing to change our paradigms, be flexible and readily adapt to the shifting economic environment.

Becoming successful

It has been written that success is a choice. But success doesn’t just happen. You need to get comfortable with uncertainty, commit resources to your plan and reach beyond your comfort zone. Actions beget reactions. Also, if you keep everything the same, the results are predictable. Nothing positive is likely to happen.

At times, one may feel paralyzed by the uncertainty of the new normal, but remember that you are not alone. Situations that once had a level of certainty now seem to have little or none. That does not mean, however, that you need to stand still. Do not become trapped in a state of ambivalence. Procrastination is a decision to do nothing.

Of course, the potential paths to success are many. Business gurus have put forth a seemingly infinite number of ideas for adopting new and innovative best practices, transformational strategies and advanced business-process mapping. The question you need to investigate is whether any of these ideas are good for your operation.

Success is frequently associated with setting a new path, good planning and execution. There is no perfect plan and strategy, but there is excellent execution. A mediocre plan that is well-executed may generate positive results. Once a plan is created, make a timely decision to execute it today rather than tomorrow. There will always be new challenges, naysayers and doubters trying to shake your resolve.

Staying focused

Concentrate on the things that are within your immediate control and deemphasize what you can’t control. This is not to say that we should ignore outside events, such as the duration and severity of the health crisis or its impact on the economy. Effective leaders require an in-depth understanding of political, social and economic trends. This is known as situational awareness. Changing events may pose threats or present opportunities that impact our financial performance.

Remaining focused often means making hard choices. It is not the number of new ideas we may consider but rather the logic and quality of these options. If you are trying to execute three or more important changes at once, you may lose focus and end up spreading yourself too thin, thus achieving only mediocre results. It is usually better to limit your focus to one or two key goals. Each of these goals also must be quantifiable and measurable. If your goal can’t be measured, it can’t be managed.

Once a mortgage broker commits to a new direction, it is important to have the courage to say no to other seemingly good options and strategies. There will always be more possibilities than the capacity to execute them. Stay focused on your plan. Be decisive. Strong determination is the cornerstone of a successful commercial mortgage broker.

It also is important to remain flexible. Although this may seem counterintuitive to the previous recommendations, a new strategy should not be cast in bronze. If a new strategy is not producing positive results, consider another change. Developing a new direction should be thought of as an option, not necessarily the only option. If there is a better way, find it. Always be open to alternative routes measured in time, risk and cost. Remember that you define what success means and that you can achieve it. ●


  • Garry Barnes

    Garry Barnes is managing director of PW Partners Consultancy, headquartered in Salt Lake City, and is a freelance writer. He is a former president and CEO of banks in Arizona, California and Utah. He has taught at the university level, and is a frequent writer and lecturer on banking, finance and real estate matters. Barnes has served on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council and received the SBA Arizona Financial Services Advocate of the Year award.

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