Self-Taught MBA: A Real-Estate Lawyer's Advice, Part 1 - Fine Homebuilding
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Self-Taught MBA: A Real-Estate Lawyer's Advice, Part 1

comments (0) July 3rd, 2012 in Blogs
FPR Fernando Pages Ruiz, contributor

Nancy Loftis has counseled clients big and small through boom and bust cycles since 1982. She has seen success and failure first hand, and observed what works and does not. Click To Enlarge

Nancy Loftis has counseled clients big and small through boom and bust cycles since 1982. She has seen success and failure first hand, and observed what works and does not. 

Photo: David Dale

 

I have known Nancy Loftis for about 20 years. We met during a 10K foot race in Lincoln, Neb., in 1993. A mutual friend introduced her as "Lincoln's best real-estate attorney." As it turned out, this wasn't an overstatement, but there's more to Loftis than being a great lawyer. She's also a civic leader who is active with several groups working to develop local recreational trails, and she has served on a number of nonprofit boards and public-interest committees. Loftis also teaches continuing-education courses for real-estate professionals.

I asked her how she would advise an up-and-coming builder-remodeler wanting to cultivate a growing business; what it takes to ride out the recession; and what she has observed in her clients' successes and failures. She talked about money; connections and how to acquire them; and the basic services every contractor needs. She ended with a warning about the most common hazards her clients have faced, and how to avoid those hazards and stay on track. Here's what she said: 

Money: Look at the people in your town that seem to have ridden this recession without hardship, and by and large, you'll be looking at those that came to the game well capitalized. If you must earn every nickel on your own, it's a lot tougher. Not that you can't-there's penalty of people that do. It's just very difficult. You will have to grow your business slowly and very, very carefully.

People: Another important element is who you know. Many successful people find opportunities because they are connected to power. A word of caution: You can't cultivate these advantages in a brashly self-serving way, but if you start with the double-barreled shotgun of money and connections, you can make a few mistakes and still succeed.

Rags to riches: Of course, a lot of us lack both capital and connections, like I did, and this does not mean you should hang it up and go look for a job. Just recognize these are important elements for any business. If you have them, appreciate the advantage and use these tools properly. If you don't, then you will have to acquire them.

Acquiring capital can take a long time, and many entrepreneurs get ahead of themselves, getting into trouble by entering into ventures they can't afford-at least not yet.


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