I’ve always admired people who are always on time. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. Call it the distractions of the day, smartphones, smartwatches, chimes, alerts, news feeds—and let’s not even talk about emails— everything is fighting for our attention. The successful businessman or woman must somehow find a way to block things out, stay focused on productive tasks, and to keep clients happy.

I call this the scramble. Since owning my own business, I realize that focus and productivity are far more than eliminating outside distractions; it is also eliminating internal distractions, which in turn requires a plan. A mind that knows the answers will move the body to action.

I find that I have to be in two entirely different mindsets to drum up appraisal work and to finish appraisal assignments. When I am in sales mode, I drink my caffeine, brush my hair, make sure my best shirt is on, then I take a big breath and push all thoughts of deadlines out of my mind so I can give my full attention to my client.

Contrarily, when I’m under a deadline, I might roll out of bed at 4:00 am and sit down in front of my computer in my workout clothes not worrying about the bed head. During this time, my phone and notification settings on other devices are off. I bar the door to keep family out and I grind until the report is ready for delivery.

The constant back and forth between these two mindsets has been a necessary evil, and honestly, adds to the stress of being a small business owner. This is what I miss about belonging to a larger company: having someone drop the work in front of me so I can stay in production mode, or even better, having that trustee employee who always gets it in on time.

There are solutions for small business owners to reduce this stress:


Teams can be formal or informal, for a long duration or for just a single project. Teams allow for internal specialization, which can lead to superior work quality, cheaper labor as well as a shorter turn time as multiple people working simultaneously. There are risk points in teams. Dropping the baton, poor communication, and poor review and oversight can cause problems for your assignments. But these risk factors can be mitigated with project management tools and structured coordination.


Some people are born for sales. Others are much happier and productive behind a computer screen and analyzing data. Where do you naturally fit in the process? If you could find a reliable partner, what tasks would they do for you? What are you happiest doing? What are you the most productive at?


When you know your type, realize that you have a lot to offer other people. There are other appraisers in our industry who lack the strengths that you bring to a team. Likewise, if risks can be managed, your business could be greatly enhanced by removing the tasks that you are naturally slow at or uncomfortable with.


Learning how to work with new people is uncomfortable. It takes time to get to know one another and understand their risks and abilities. When breakdowns happen, be clear about what the breakdown was and how it can be avoided for the future. With a large enough community and with enough time, you will be able to gravitate toward the right fit for your business needs.