Caveat Emptor: Lessons Learned from Tax Season

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Samantha Jones

By Samantha Jones

Every year, Uncle Sam comes calling like clockwork in the spring. In the midst of our crazy spring market no less, and then comes the sticker shock. The inevitable cringing at how much I spent to run my business last year.

At the end of the day, we are small business owners after all. It does take money to make money, but where do we draw the line? Some costs are a necessity. Simply the cost of doing business, per se. Other spending just boils down to wasted money. I’ll be honest, for me the latter was last year’s ad budget.

As I crunched my 2017 costs, it hit me: “I spent how much on advertising?!” Insert expletives and self-chastising.

Somehow, in the span of 12 months, I tripled my previous advertising costs. I fell prey to the same slippery slope other entrepreneurs warn of: throwing money at my business.

You see, 2015 was a stellar year for me. My production tripled over the previous year, so naturally I felt I could justify beefing up my ad costs. Surely, if I spent more money I’d bring in more clients and make more money. Pretty simple, right? Oh, I could not have been more wrong.

@jarmoluk, 2014.

Spending the money wasn’t hard to do since agents receive calls daily with the promise of leads.

“I can help you triple your business.”

“I have seller leads in your area…” only costs an arm and a leg.

“We are working with groups of buyers who want to move into your area. For a small fee, we can connect you…Don’t you want more sales?”

Of course I did! Who wouldn’t want to at least consider the promise of more business? Thankfully, I ignored the cheesiest opportunities. However, I did succumb to subscribing to a platform that supposedly connects agents with homeowners likely to move in the coming months. (They’re mostly not planning to move, from my experience.) Along with grocery cart ads. (I’ll spare you the sob story.) The bottom line is they essentially produced nothing besides high price tags and friends sending me pictures of my photo on their shopping cart. I appreciated their recognition and had a few laughs about “shopping” with them. Still, I do not believe it translated into deals or recouping the hefty costs.

So this year I’ve focused on returning to the basics—immersing myself in the community I love and giving back; connecting with my sphere and expanding it. Essentially, everything they tell you in licensing still rings true when you have an established business. Who knew? Clearly not 2017 me. When you rely on that genuine approach, the phone will ring—and your credit card bill will thank you.

Samantha Jones is an award-winning real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the Chicagoland area. She is a top producer who specializes in residential sales. Connect with Samantha on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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