So I have a soft spot in my heart for small business. After all, they don’t come much smaller than my own little shop. I don’t necessarily consider myself an entrepreneur, but rather, a bit of an opportunist. There aren’t many who are willing and able to handle marketing communications for our little industry. I am. Hence…opportunity.
The past year (hell…the past seven years) has been trying for businesses of all sizes in the mortgage, title and real estate industry. We’ve gone from the subprime meltdown and consolidation to the great REO wave to the rise of the CFPB. 2014 has brought QM, ATR and, for the title industry, the spectre of increased costs necessary to meet new lender demands in the name of compliance. Mortgage brokers have all but been purged from the earth. Small businesses are being swallowed by larger firms. Compliance firms are thriving. All the while, opinions, indicators and analysis have been readily available suggesting simultaneously that the market has crashed; is crashing; is about to crash; is rebounding; has rebounded or is treading water. Depending on who you talk to, of course.
The only thing we really know about the housing market right now is that, well..it’s uncertain. That’s a tough climate in which to do business for anyone, but especially for the little guy, the small business–the company without the volume or cash reserves to stay afloat when revenue dips.
I don’t have an easy answer as to what to do. I’m a PR/marketing guy, you see. And I suspect a self-supporting pitch to hire a PR guy right about now won’t go over real well with a company just trying to keep the lights on. I do strongly believe however, that change always brings opportunity somewhere. Again, my little business will never be mistaken for the Apple or Google of title/mortgage marketing. But I can say that it has been successful–in spite of the market and economy over the last five years. Much of the reason has been my ability (or luck, perhaps) to spot the next wave and ride it. More or less.
Consider this a vote of confidence for the small business owners in our industry. In many cases, YOU are the innovators. YOU are the ones who don’t go “by the book” when the market shrinks. YOU are the ones who show the rest of the industry new ways to do old things. YOU are not (always) driven by fear, but rather, opportunity. This will get better. Keep it up!