Successful Entrepreneurship in the Real Estate Industry

What are the driving factors behind entrepreneurship in commercial real estate, and what are the reasons for the success of the industry leaders? How could success (past, present, and future) be measured? How would an individual approaching an entrepreneurial endeavor in this field gauge their success?

The hypothesis of this study is that it is possible for an entrepreneur to achieve a return on investment of 15%. Variables that may affect this include management of the expense to profit ratios, tax benefits, and new construction versus rehabilitation projects.

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The primary purpose of this project is to study the driving factors behind successful entrepreneurship, and more specifically, in commercial real estate. Some of the questions that will be researched are; What are the characteristics, philospy and practices of successful entrepreneurs ? What are the reasons for the success of leaders in the real estate industry? How could success (past, present, and future) be measured, and how would an individual approaching an entrepreneurial endeavor in this field gauge their success? What are the potential sources for venture capital, and other start-up assistance?

Entrepreneurs are people who have the ability to see and evaluate business opportunities; to gather the necessary resources to take advantage of them; and to initiate appropriate action to insure success. It is unlikely that you will ever meet an entrepreneur who rates high on all the traits and characteristics that are necessary for success. It is very likely that the entrepreneurs you do meet will rate high on most of them, especially decision making, self-confidence, risk-taking ability, flexibility, a strong need to achieve, and a strong desire to be independent (Stolze, 1992, p.10).

Entrepreneurs must be willing to learn from experience and change with the times. They must constantly be aware of new ways to increase their own productivity. One of the main keys to entrepreneurial success is involvement in continuous personal growth. An important feature of being entrepreneurial is providing something of value to others. The greater need people have for your product or service, the greater your rewards will be (Meredith, 1982, p.12). entrepreneurs who work to help other people, to raise their standards of living and to improve their lives, will be serving the needs of society. This is the meaning of being and entrepreneur. The biggest asset to sustaining entrepreneurial ability is a positive attitude. In addition, determination, experience, persistence and just plain hard work are essential to being a successful entrepreneur.

The right mental attitude towards work is extremely important. Successful entrepreneurs enjoy their work and are totally dedicated to what they are doing. Their positive mental attitudes turn their jobs into exciting, interesting and rewarding work. By observing what entrepreneurs say and do, it is possible to understand their mental attitudes. Positive mental attitudes will greatly contribute to successful accomplishments. How entrepreneurs act is a reflection of what they think about themselves and their environment.

Many people go through life wishing that they were someone else or that they were doing another type of work. Most people have a desire to change their life situation. But few people take action to do so. A small proportion of people is willing to take risk to change their lives for the better. These people are entrepreneurial because they take advantage of opportunities to improve their lives. The true entrepreneur is the person who is constantly changing and growing.

Planning helps to establish company goals. As your company grows, the greater need there is for planning; you begin to spend more time planning and less time doing routine operating activities (Meredith, 1982, p.47). The aforementioned traits are key to developing a successful business. One trait equally important, but not yet mentioned, is discipline. Discipline is the foundation upon which all the characteristics of successful entrepreneurism are built upon (Stolze, 1992, p.10). Discipline and planning are two of the key ingredients in the real estate business. For the real estate entrepreneur, the first question they must ask is what are my goals?

Those entrepreneurs who have sustained success over long periods of time are also high on person-orientation. To be an effective leader you must try to see things through the eyes of those you are leading. Before you take any action, which affects your staff, consider how they will react to it. In your mind, you must be able to exchange places with your staff and think as they do (Meredith, 1982, p.32). The attitudes and actions of the entrepreneur mainly determine the total performance of a business. Effectiveness as a leader is determined by the results achieved. Increasing your leadership experience will result in the more efficient use of your time, better performance by your staff, and increased output. All these results can be measured (Meredith, 1982, p.18). Although there is considerable variation in the leadership styles of entrepreneurs, the vast majority of entrepreneurs are high on task-orientation.

Peter Drucker (1985) states in his article, ‘A Prescription for entrepreneurial management’, “ Leadership does not necessarily mean bigger; it means being accepted as the leader, recognized as the standard setter. Above all, it means having the freedom to lead rather than being obliged to follow” (p.36).

In looking at these definitions it can be seen that there are many different types of leadership. Several examples might be transformational, charismatic, and entrepreneurial leadership. Entrepreneurial leadership is vital to an individual and to a corporation’s success. Entrepreneurial firms are a major source of innovation and change. They create jobs, new tax revenues, and other transfers of money. At a time when U.S. productivity growth is lagging behind other countries, and when our large corporations are laying off workers and focusing on core businesses, entrepreneurial firms assume a more significant role; They do what large companies are not doing (Miner, 1997, p.54).

Definitions of Entrepreneurial Leadership

Stevenson, Roberts, & Grousbeck (as cited in Morris, Avilla, & Allen, 1993) Define entrepreneurship as “The process of creating value by bring together a unique package of resources to exploit an opportunity” (p.56). Furthermore, (Covin & Slevin, 1989; Miles & Arnold, 1991; Miller & Friesen, 1983) also cited (Morris et al., 1993):

The process itself consists of the set of activities necessary to identify an opportunity, develop a business concept, and then manage and harvest the venture. As a process, it has applicability to organizations of all sizes and types. The entrepreneurship construct has three underlying dimensions: innovativeness, or the development of novel or unique products, services or processes; risk-taking, or willingness to pursue opportunities having a reasonable chance of costly failure; and proactiveness, or an emphasis on persistence and creativity in overcoming obstacles until the innovative concept is fully implemented (p.596).

Entrepreneurial Leadership within Management

  • Success for entrepreneurs requires innovation. There are several ways to achieve this according to Drucker:
  • Entrepreneurial management first requires that the organization be made receptive to innovation and willing to perceive change as an opportunity rather than a threat. It must be organized to do the hard work of the entrepreneur and create the entrepreneurial climate.
  • It secondly requires systematic measurement—or at least systematic appraisal—of a company’s performance as entrepreneur and innovator, and built-in learning to improve performance.
  • Thirdly, entrepreneurial management requires specific practices with respect to organization structure, staffing, management compensation, incentives, and rewards (p.33).

Not only is innovation a key factor in the success of entrepreneurial management but, an important issue that needs to be brought to management’s attention; individualism and collectivism within the corporation. Morris et al., states the following, “ Managers and theorist interested in entrepreneurship must begin to come to terms with the roles of the individuals and the group, respectively, within an organizational context. These roles are an integral component of the internal environment of the firm” (p.603). Drucker (1985) authoring another article with the same title as his book, “Setting up entrepreneurial units” is quoted as saying, For the existing business to be capable of innovation, it has to create a structure that allows people to be entrepreneurial.

This means, first, that the entrepreneurial, the new, has to be organized separately from the old and existing… This means also that there has to be a special locus for the new venture within the organization, and it has to be pretty high up. Even though the new project, by virtue of it’s size, revenues, and markets, does not rank with existing products, somebody in top management must have the specific assignment to work on tomorrow as an entrepreneur and innovator (p.22).

Berglass (1977) believes that this is extremely important especially with top management. In business, no one respects a CEO who has lost the will to stick his neck out. Risk aversion among successful entrepreneurs is somewhat widespread. With surprising regularity, formerly fearless entrepreneurs responded to success by holding the reins on risk and change so tightly that they end up strangling their businesses (p.35)

Miner found through research that there, “is not just one kind of person who has the potential to succeed as an entrepreneur. Furthermore, the findings show that the type of person an individual determines the route he or she should follow” (p.54). He found that there were four types of personalities, they are:

  • Desire to plan and set goals-Not a Major Factor
  • Strong personal commitment to their organization-High
  • Belief that one person can make a difference-an internal, rather than external, locus of control-High
  • Belief that work should be guided by personal goals not those set by others-Very High
  • Capacity to understand and feel with another-to empathize-Very High
  • Belief that social processes are very important-Very High
  • Need to have strong positive relationships with others-Not a Major Factor
  • Belief that a sales force is crucial to carrying out company strategy-High
  • Desire to play a corporate leader role-High
  • Positive attitudes to authority-High
  • Desire for power-Not a Major Factor
  • Desire to stand out from the crowd-Very High
  • Belief that new product development is crucial to carrying out company strategy-High
  • Good intelligence-Not a Major Factor
  • Desire to avoid taking risk-High(pp,55-61)

He further about various patterns of the four personalities:

There is no reason that a person cannot have more than one of the four personality patterns that make for successful entrepreneurship. In my experience, over a third of established entrepreneurs so possess at least two strong patterns. Multiple patterns are particularly frequent when personal achievers or real managers are involved. They are least likely in the case of empathetic super salespeople. Those who possess more than one strong pattern are called complex entrepreneurs. They may activate these patterns concomitantly and thus follow multiple routes at roughly the same time. Or, they may bring the multiple patterns to bear in some type of sequential order (p.62).

Despite the four different types of personalities that each person might possess, Pinchot (1994) gives a dozen tips on how to regain or hold onto their entrepreneurial spirit:

Find a vision worthy of persistence. Your vision should meet three tests: 1) create more value for customers and stockholders; 2) increase the value of the capabilities and assets of the organization; 3) align with your deepest values and give you a chance to use your greatest talents.

  • Choose a vision of moderate risk.
  • Develop cross disciplinary business judgment
  • It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
  • Come to work willing to be fired.
  • Never show fools unfinished work.
  • Balance reality and the dream (pp.15-18)


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