When I co-founded a software company three years ago, I knew I was bringing 30 years of experience as a real estate broker to the table. But what I didn’t know was that we would be launching our software, which was designed to help people negotiate and manage documents in a fully digital manner, in the middle of a global pandemic. And that some of the lessons I learned throughout my real estate career would be the very things that helped us launch successfully even though the whole world suddenly felt like it had turned upside down. Here are some key takeaways for anyone bringing a new idea to market—whether it is software or any other type of product or service—during social upheaval.
Any real estate agent knows that to be successful in our line of work, we have to be able to adapt quickly to our clients’ needs and the ever-changing market. This means having our fingers on the pulse of what is going on in the communities we serve. The same held true when we were getting ready to launch and saw that millions of people were going to be working remotely for the foreseeable future. I was in communication with dozens of agents in my community about how they were adapting their business practices during shelter-in-place orders and found that we could expand our product’s features to meet their needs without too much of an extra burden on our tech team. If you’re about to launch something you’ve been working on for several years, you know it inside out. This means you don’t have to go back to the drawing board if the market suddenly changes. Instead, look at it from as many angles as possible, and see how it can be adapted slightly to address the shift in needs of your potential clients.
For us, we were able to emphasize securely signed contracts as part of the document management system so that agents could carry out housing transactions without needing to meet in person.
The next crucial piece is to take the “new normal” and project into the future by several years. The world is going to look different for some time, but people will still need to buy and sell houses, so the core services agents offer aren’t going to change. We are already experts at using subtle clues to predict where the neighborhoods will grow in popularity (and therefore price), and the same tools we use to anticipate changes in supply and demand are exactly the skills that can help you orient your product launch so that it grows in lockstep with the way the world is going.
If you work in real estate, the only true constant is change. Drastic and major upheavals have occurred in our industry before the technological age, but the same principles can be applied whether we’re talking about digital or physical products. Our skillsets are more transferable than we realize.
Allen Alishahi is president of ShelterZoom. For more information, please visit www.shelterzoom.com.