curt whitesell

The Friendly Reminders of Owning a Small Business in 2017.

2017 was a fantastic year at WKRP Indy and […]


2017 was a fantastic year at WKRP Indy and for the Whitesell family in general.  We absolutely had a blast and looking back over the last 12 months, there are very few things I would change or try to do over and as a whole 2017 was a smashing success.  But as do most business owners or professionals that like to do better, I have spent some time pondering some valuable mistakes and experiences that remind me every day of what being a small business owner looks like.  Even in my worst financial years I was able to find value in looking back into my business and do my best to apply lessons learned to the next year and if you don’t do this already I would encourage anyone that cares, to take some time and slowly think about what’s happened and what you have learned.  One of the ways I do this is by looking at my calendar and even sometimes making notes.  Hopefully I am able to consciously take those instances as reminders as to what I am doing and how to get better all the time.  Here are a few of my notes.

It’s on ME – I own my company and I have no one to point any fingers at the end of the day.  I am not a big “blamer” and am turned off when I hear a leader blame others for a lack of progress, but at the end of the day I am continually reminded that if I don’t perform my company will not perform.  This is not to say that the company success is not dependent on our agent’s success but as a whole if I am not strategic, a leader, mentoring, assisting, training, engaging, supporting or working my tail off the company will eventually disappear.  I can have the best agents in the world working with me but if I am not doing everything I can to make them successful individually then it lands on me if the company suffers.  I am going to continue to work on that this coming year and grow as an owner/leader everyday.  Its one of my favorite parts of owning a company

Everything is changing – When I started selling real estate there was no normal for me and every agent I spoke with was as lost as the next one as to following a playbook.  The real estate business is always changing whether it be sales trends, client acquisition or just technology and communication.  In 2017 I think we saw many changes but more then ever I think we saw a change in how buyers find real estate and what they expect from an agent.  Whether it is commercial leases or building a new home, the client continued to move a step closer to the transaction and the agent lost a little value in the process.  As someone that relies on new business and growth I can never get comfortable as a business owner in a specific way of doing business. We have to continually be researching and training on best practices and staying ahead of the game because that is what is expected of us.  I am hoping that in 2018, as I do some hard business planning I am able to make the best predictions and take aim at the best ways to change to grow and improve our business.

Bigger is not always better – When I started WKRP indy my goal was to be a lean, strategic and forward thinking brokerage in the Central Indiana market and I still believe that today.  But it’s easy to get caught up in the scaling and growth zoom that is glorified in business.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with being really good at something and instead of focusing on everything, just being the best at a specific thing.  I started 2017 with the goal of growing the company from a lean, strategic and forward thinking brokerage to a medium sized general firm and I did it for all the wrong reasons and the wrong way.  Bigger is not better if you are not doing it the correct way and learning from that may have been my biggest gain this year.  In 2017 our company was the largest it’s been and the smallest it’s been, all within 12 months and if you are a business owner that’s a pretty rude awakening and a real challenge to overcome.  But as a business owner its the way we overcome those events that gives us success and getting focused again is where I think we will come ahead.  I would much rather have 1 agent that cares about their business and wants to be really really good at something and be able to lead them, then to be expanding with no real direction and mismanaged.  I think this happens all the time in small business as we see a growth opportunity but lose control of the environment that got us to where we were.  This will be my proudest year to date and staying small and awesome will be the motivation.

Time – This is on my list each and every year of things I wished I had done better and will focus on in the future.  Non-working time.  Outside of golf I do not have and hobbies or killing time activities and I am not much of a time waster.  But I need to be and always want to be.  Recently I started doing Yoga (30 second pause for laughter) at home and it has taught me that there is nothing wrong with 30 minutes of not checking the phone or missing a call and somehow everything works out.  One of my goals every year is to manage my time from personal growth, family and business and every year I just skip right over any sort of plan to make this happen.  I do not prioritize it and it suffers in the end.  In 2018 I am hoping that I figure out how to not rush out the door even better, or let an email sit and God forbid not break into a sweat waiting to return a voicemail.  It’s been hard to do in the past but its always beneficial and overall I feel healthier.  Being responsive and urgency are important but every text and phone call are not the end of a great sale so why would I not subscribe to the fact that the deal will still be there in 20 minutes or even tomorrow?  I have a hard time with this but always start out with the best intentions.

2018 is exciting to me and as hard as 2017 was personally and professionally, I would imagine there will be just as many challenges ahead and just as much reward.  I truly think I was put in a position to lead and be great at something and I take it very seriously as an owner and as a husband/Dad, which is exactly why I take the time to go through this process.  I hope that everyone that really cares about their business has a way to slow down and look at ways to improve as a professional, even if its just one small aspect of their day.  As many of you already know I read a book called The Dip by Seth Godin every April and quit things that are not benefiting me personally or professional, but every end of the year I read my previous 12 months to see what things I can do more of and how to be better.  It’s a great way to end an absolutely wonderful year as a business owner.


Curt has been in the Indianapolis Real Estate business for over 10 years and spent his first years learning all aspects of commercial management and brokerage.  He has had great success in managing existing commercial projects and new retail and office developments.  Curt specializes in building owner representation and purchases in the Westfield Indiana market as well throughout the Indianapolis Metro area.  Curt is passionate about growing the local Westfield community and in his free time  volunteers with Westfield Youth Assistance and raising 2 children with his wife Jennifer.

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