Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chylese Austin, Founder of Lark and Fir Realty, LLC., located in Portland, OR, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

My business is residential real estate services. The company serves licensed real estate Brokers who need guidance, technical support, and marketing, and we serve consumers looking to sell or buy homes in the greater Portland area.

Tell us about yourself

I built a personal book of business selling houses over almost two decades that put me in the top 5% of all metro area Realtors, even though I lacked both the advantages of having a family member already in real estate AND an extensive personal local sphere since I wasn't from Portland and had only moved to the city four years prior. So I had to learn multiple ways to find clients and grow my business. It wasn't easy!

Over time, my success drew agents around me to ask my counsel on their struggles. I loved helping them, so eventually, it made sense to start my own firm and provide better support services without skimping on great branding that could speak to many people as an integral part of compelling marketing materials. But helping others with their business growing pains and tricky transactions gives me the greatest satisfaction and the motivation to do more and get even better at it!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I'm very proud of attracting the folks we have here, who are a diverse group in terms of both how they find their clients and their tenure in real estate. They all support and celebrate each other's accomplishments and learning curves. We are still a relatively small, new company, but with a great foundation and culture in place already. I'm super proud of that!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the hardest things is knowing when to pivot because something isn't going as well as you want and knowing when to stretch - even when the investment of time or capital seems high or the risk greater than you would prefer.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Know your "why" and make sure your idea will include a service or product that serves a unique and compelling need.
  2. Do your homework on the systems you'll need to invest in and put in place early. It isn't "fun," and it can feel intimidating, but it's important to do well.
  3. Don't skimp on branding. Take the time and make the investment in something more meaningful and well-crafted.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I try to surround myself with self-starter people who have different strengths than me. We all learn more that way, and it makes the company more nimble and able to offer more. It also naturally creates collaboration, which helps our customers feel more supported.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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