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The DingoProp Dilemma: Advisor, Consultant, Coach or Mentor?
Sarnen Steinbarth, real estate investor, Founder, and CEO of TurboTenant once said, “You will probably make a few mistakes of your own, but you can minimize the struggle by learning from others’ mishaps.”
Although mistakes can teach you important lessons, they are always associated with negative consequences. The role of PropTech consultants and advisors is to direct clients through the minefield of costly mistakes, which is crucial at the beginning of any Proptech startup.
Imagine for a minute that there is a fictitious, fledgling Proptech company named DingoProp. At this stage, DingoProp only has a strategic concept and a website without any real clients or subscribers.
The organization is managed by a young, independent real estate developer with an established track record, having created a real estate transaction platform that was acquired for $6 million. This new enterprise facilitates the integration of multiple phases of pre-construction planning and implementation. However, there are common Proptech startup challenges that occur, which DingoProp needs to solve.
Challenges Proptech Startups Need to Solve
Although his past experience is in selling developed land and leasing existing buildings, this novice developer has never been directly involved in the planning and management of the construction process.
What type of guidance and support should he consider? At this stage, should he seek out an advisor, a consultant, a mentor, or a coach? Like the answer to most questions, “It depends.”
Before you choose between an advisor, coach, or consultant, it’s a good idea to appreciate the common Proptech startup challenges. This will help companies like DingoProp determine the best professional for your needs. A few considerations are listed below:
- Stakeholders must embrace technology for a company to be innovative and effective. Prioritizing the stakeholder with the most to gain (and lose) is a great way to start. This individual should be well-educated, inspiring, and communicate with others.
- Proving your value proposition is another challenge. Real estate is starting to embrace tech, but the industry tends to move slowly, so being a breakout star is unlikely. Demonstrating how adoption saves money and time or creates value is essential.
- Building a disciplined growth strategy can also be problematic. It can be easy to become distracted and lose focus. Real estate is local, compliance-driven, and complex, as focusing on scalable growth is of the highest importance.
- Change management within established real estate companies involves adapting to new technologies, processes, or strategies to improve efficiency and competitiveness. Navigating change management requires identifying the need for change, planning the transition, and implementing the necessary steps. Building an internal team can be crucial for a smooth transition, as it ensures that key stakeholders are involved in the process, properly trained, and have a common goal in mind.
- Finding the right product-market fit to ensure sustainability also presents a challenge. Ensuring your company grows and succeeds beyond the near future is critical.
- Inertia can be an issue, especially since real estate moves at a snail’s pace. Time and cost savings are the key factors to having people adopt your products. Even if you have great value, you’ll need patience to go far.
- Relationships are everything in real estate, making networking an essential part of the business. Learning to connect and gain access to a network that helps you build technology can take time.
- Generating an excellent return on investment (ROI) is also a challenge for some startups in the Proptech world. It’s important to think like a real estate owner to know what would push them to try a new solution.
- The complexity of tech implementations lies in their far-reaching impact on multiple levels. For instance, simple software such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) management tools can affect design, construction, and operation processes. Integrating these tools requires a deep understanding of affected systems, proper training, and support for end-users
The Difference Between Proptech Advisors, Coaches, Consultants, and Mentors
Before we get into the details, reviewing some basic terminology is important. Counseling a business entity goes beyond simply giving advice. An advisor, coach, consultant, or mentor can provide this support.
Advisors are generally authorities in a specific discipline and can provide long-term strategies, point out challenges, and highlight industry trends. A coach can propose a novel way of thinking, asking the hard questions others may be afraid to ask.
Consultants, on the other hand, focus on creative solutions that are unique to a specific niche. The consultant learns what your objectives are and develops an actionable plan. The consultant frequently delivers the work the team would achieve if they had the necessary talent and resources.
Finally, the mentor is a non-compensated advisor, coach, or consultant who usually is involved on a more superficial level. Regardless of the assigned title, the individual providing the support must obviously be experienced, knowledgeable, responsible, and trustworthy, prioritizing the agenda of the client.
Whether it is education or construction, a solid foundation is essential. The planning stages of pre-construction include collaboration between the client and contractor, reviewing the schematic design, outlining the overall project with a detailed project scope, scheduling, a sound budget, and a labor and management team.
In this case, a counselor must be well-versed in the software used in the construction industry and the specific role of each core decision-maker in every phase of the project.
Because each contractor and vendor involved in the project may have their own separate tools, processes, and communication platforms, a unified communication tool is key to a successful, cost-efficient outcome.
How to Choose an Advisor, Coach, or Consultant
Let’s get back to DingoProp. The next step for our real estate developer is to choose the right Proptech professional and interview the prospective advisor, coach, or consultant.
After an initial telephone or video conference, all of the questions should be drafted in advance and shared with all parties, along with the necessary NDA paperwork. Advisors, coaches, and consultants are not employees and should never be screened as though they are employees.
Because each venture is unique, the specific questions will obviously vary. DingoProp should be wary of any advisor or consultant who overstates claims that they can independently tackle everything ‘end-to-end,’ assume control over the business, or minimize budgetary considerations.
Regardless, as the business owner, you will still need other perspectives and outside feedback from a mentor, investor, or colleague. Ultimately, DingoProp needs actionable solutions to overcome these common Proptech startup challenges.
Choosing the Ideal Proptech Advisor, Coach, or Consultant
Once you’ve decided to move forward with an advisor, coach, or consultant, it’s important to ensure you choose the best one for your company. This is someone who needs to be dependable and responsible.
However, with multiple competing consultants and advisors, it can take time to narrow down the options. That’s why there are some skills that you should prioritize as you look at the different advisors you are considering bringing into the fold, such as:
- Great networking abilities: The best Proptech professional is someone who assists you with reaching the right resources and people. This helps you grow your business and become successful.
- Top-notch coaching skills: Advisors and consultants will help answer your questions and solve your problems, but it doesn’t end there. The best match is someone who will ask questions that force you to think outside the box.
- An exceptional reputation: The last person you want to hire is someone who has failed projects in the past. You also want to avoid getting into a relationship with someone with a bad reputation. Look into feedback from past clients and view the results they have had working on other projects.
- Superb industry knowledge: As a Proptech startup, you need help from someone who knows the industry inside and out. This leads to better strategy planning, which helps you make the right decision. An advisor who is engaged in the industry can help you avoid mistakes and will assist you with utilizing your network.
- Excellent communication skills: Any skilled professional is going to offer benefits to your startup. However, it takes more than expertise to be a good choice. You need to be sure this person has excellent communication skills. If not, it could lead to miscommunication and problems.
- A passion for your business: A Proptech startup advisor cares about the industry, but they should also be a fan of what you are doing in your own business. The wrong choice is a consultant who is only there to make money. The right advisor is honest, skilled, and driven due to their enthusiasm for the startup you are founding.
- An out-of-the-box thinker: This individual fosters creativity and innovation, resulting in improved ideas, products, and services that lead to better problem-solving and productivity.
Choosing ideal partners and zeroing in on enduring, practical technologies that integrate with existing technologies can provide sustainable solutions and help you overcome these common Proptech startup challenges.
Although DingoProp now has a blueprint, they must still implement each solution phase. The consultant or advisor should include KPIs and benchmarks to serve to improve the new solution’s performance.
The challenges facing DingoProp will always continue, as they must always adapt to evolving market conditions and client expectations. There are never shortcuts, but a worthy consultant or advisor can be a prized “sherpa” on the climb of the Mount Everest of Proptech success.
The main goal of both consultants and advisors is to help you tackle your business challenges. Advisors usually work with you at a macro level. They will help with problems you may encounter over an extended period. Consultants focus on specific tasks and help with defined methods to move forward.
For example, a consultant might help you find new ways to get clients if that’s a current struggle. An advisor will help you create a blueprint for success, both related to the current problem and those that might be present in the future. Both have their place depending on your goals, so choosing the best Proptech professionals for your startup is critical.