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Industry Commentary

How To Be Successful at Originating

Plan for success


February 9, 2004

What are the things I need to do to succeed in the mortgage business?

I often get this question from those in my class, either from students who are new in the industry or from those who are experienced but need to take a different direction. Those different directions may include a focus upon purchases instead of refinances or a focus on a referral-based business instead of purchasing leads.

It is an excellent question -- but very, very broad. What I expect to do here is give you an outline of what you will need to accomplish to have a better chance of succeeding. Do not think that we will do each step justice in one article -- but hopefully it will give you the gumption to learn a bit more. And even more importantly, take coherent action.

First take an inventory of your life -- your skills and spheres of influence. Do not assume that whatever you did before or are doing now is not relevant to what you are going to do. Everything you do should be building upon what you did in the past. That way your business plan will resemble a staircase instead of a treadmill. Many feel because their background is technology that these skills would not be relevant to their new targets in the mortgage business. Others feel the good job they have done with refinances in the past three years do not separate them from their competition. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am reminded about the email I received from someone who was selling insurance for twenty years. Their question was, "where is the best place to purchase leads?" I also get this question from those who have been in the business for eight years. When I ask them why they don’t change -- they say it is too late. I think you get the picture. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said it is never too late to do what is right.

Use your skills, relationships, experiences and more to develop a base from which to work.

Then take an inventory of your needs -- what will you need to learn and improve upon. I often say that the goal of my class is to let you know what you don’t know. Because if you don't know what you don't know, you won't improve (John Maxwell). Your inventory here is not limited to areas of educational needs. Many of us need self-improvement. One of my books has a list of areas we need to excel within in order to succeed: attitude, hard work, honesty, communication, etc. If you don't know what areas you need to improvement in, all the marketing advice I give you will be in vain. This is a key step that most of us never take -- an inventory of where we need to change or improve. Do not skip this step.

Then look at the options for work environments. There are plenty of options within this business -- you could work as a broker, a lender, in a bank, out of your home, inside a real estate office, for a builder, in what I will affectionately call a 'sweatshop,' as well as other choices. Many of us go to work in this industry by answering an advertisement. We even change jobs in this manner. Stop looking for the right company, because what you are really looking for is the best "mentor" and people to work with in the right environment. Companies are a comprised of people -- and you need to find the right people.