How to Use Failure to Grow Your Business

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Alexis Craig

Alexis Craig

By Alexis Craig

Why do you think we don’t make our failures public?

This is easy to see on social media. Pictures of couples on the beach in Punta Cana, our friend getting promoted to a management position, and our co-worker’s weekly production numbers dominate our newsfeeds. And we can’t help but ask ourselves, why is everyone having success but me?

We all hide our failures — only letting people see what we want them to see. In an effort to help you in your real estate business, I’m going to sort of declare my failures.

I fail. A lot. But I’m not alone. Ask any successful agent how often they failed. I can promise you the answer is a lot. For some reason, we’ve come to believe that the avoidance of failure makes an agent successful. But it’s the ability to fail and move through that failure over and over again until you see success.

We need a process that allows us to fail and move through our failures. I’m sharing with you the process I use.

Why You Need A Process for Failure

For a long time I looked for a magic silver bullet. Before I started in real estate, I started and left other businesses because I was in search of the business that would give me a ton of success with the least amount of work.

It took me years to learn that there is no magic bullet. We won’t find the answer to success by reading a single blog post. Instead we need a process that helps us work through different strategies and tactics to find the series of building blocks that work for us.

Second, the market is always shifting. Take a look at real estate prices in the last decade. Just five years ago, many of our local markets were at the bottom and selling a house was hard. Now, it’s the exact opposite. Homes are selling within days.

By having a process, we’re able to constantly test and adjust as the market moves. Too many agents only notice the market shift when it’s too late.

My Process for Using Failure to Grow

The process that I developed isn’t new. It’s been around for nearly 800 years. My process is the scientific method applied to real estate. It’s composed of five parts:

  1. Ideas
  2. Prioritization
  3. Test Design
  4. Analysis of Results
  5. Systematize the Processes

@pexels, 2016.

The first step is taking your goals and brainstorming a ton of potential ideas that will help us hit them. For example, maybe your goal is to get more monthly appointments. Brainstorm ideas that will help you get more appointments.

There is an abundance of ideas when it comes to real estate marketing. This is where a coach or reading articles on the YPN Lounge or REALTOR® Magazine comes in handy. They can help you think of ideas and potential solutions. You can record all of this in a spreadsheet or document.

Prioritize Your Ideas

Order of operations does matter. You have to get really good at working on the things that matter. I prioritize all of my ideas against a few values:

  • Input Resources: How much time or money will it take me to implement? Developing a sales letter takes money and time. Making a follow up call to an unconverted leads requires very little.
  • Output Time: How long does it take to see results? Sending an email to hot leads could take a week. A strategy for nurturing leads that aren’t ready could take months.
  • Impact: If successful, how much of a difference would this make on my business?
  • Probability of Success: Do I have the skills and resources to get this done?
  • Scalability: Are there opportunities to outsource or automate this idea?

When going through my ideas, I’m looking for the ones that have a low input, low output, high impact, high probability of success, and are highly scaleable. What you pick will depend on your goals and resources.

For example, maybe you don’t have much cash so you’ll need to prioritize ideas that don’t cost much. Maybe you have little time, so you’ll have to look at ideas that offer scalability.

Use the Scientific Method to Design Your Tests

Take your best idea for reaching your goals and create a hypothesis. Let’s say we’ve decided that email marketing is our best chance for increasing our monthly appointments. Our hypothesis might look something like this:

“If successful, email marketing will increase my monthly appointments by 40 percent because email marketing tends to have the best conversion rates based on articles I’ve read.”

The simple formula I use is, “If successful, [idea] will make [impact] because [assumptions].”

Next, design a test that allows you to validate or invalidate your hypothesis. Sticking with our example, we might send eight emails that allows us to collect data on open rates, click through rates, and response rates. This will give us a better idea on how email marketing will perform before we spend the time and money building out a yearly campaign.

Analyze Results

Next, look at the data you collected. Was your hypothesis right? If not, why not? Why did you pick that number?

This is probably the most important, and often skipped, part of the process. I’ve said that every successful agent fails, but it’s not failure that causes success. It’s analyzing those failures so that you do more of what works and cut out the stuff that doesn’t work. Learning through our failures brings success.


Lastly, when you find something that works, double down on it and scale it. Look at technology or people to scale the process.

There you have it. That’s the process that I use and many agents likely use to grow their business through their failure. Get the specific spreadsheets and documents I use to generate ideas, prioritize them, design my tests, and analyze my results.

Alexis Craig, founder of Mocha Homes, leads a team of real estate rebels in Lansing, Mich. Connect with her at or


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