What Can Tom Cruise Teach the Appraisal Business Owner?

I hate Tom Cruise.  No, I really do, but I saw something the other day that was pretty impressive. Don’t worry, I am not going to talk about Scientology or the virtues of a grown man jumping up and down on a couch.  Mission Impossible 4 is currently in theaters.  I have not yet seen the show, but I guess there is a scene that takes place on Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world).  The scene shows him crawling around on the outside of the building, a mere 2,500 feet above the ground!  Now, they can do a lot of things these days with trick photography and stunt men, but there were no theatrical liberties or look-alikes on this one. Tom chooses to do all of his own stunts.  The thing that was impressive was Mr. Cruise’s fearless ability to leap out of the windows, run across the surface of the building, and spring out away from the structure into the air while tethered only by some kind of a harness.  Maybe it is because I get weak in the knees just looking over a second-story balcony, but Tom’s seemingly lack of fear was impressive.  If you have not seen it yet, watch it here:

For some strange reason, I woke up this morning thinking about Tom Cruise.  Okay, that did not come out right.  What I meant to say was that I awoke from my slumber with this particular scene in my mind and how it relates to business owners.  Indulge me for a moment.

I often hear people talk about the ‘risks’ involved with starting and running a business.  Though I understand the concept they are trying to portray, I am not sure ‘risk’ is the right word… at least for successful business owners.  As a serial entrepreneur, I have started plenty of different businesses.  Not all of them were ‘successful’ in the world’s definition of that word, but they were all great learning experiences.  If there is any incredibly helpful advice I could give either a new business owner or one thinking of doing some major ‘remodeling,’ it would be the lesson of the safety harness.

Let me tell you a true story.  About five years ago, I had an amazing idea for a new business.  It had nothing to do with appraisals, but it would allow me to diversify my income a bit.  I was so convinced that this new business would be a hit that I sunk over $100,000 and four years of my life into its birth and development.  Fast forward to now.  In the end, it was a bomb.  I lost all of the money and time I put into it.  Now, I do not see it as a complete failure; just expensive ‘tuition.’  Really, really, really expensive tuition.  The problem was that the idea, though seemingly good to me, was not so much to everyone else—my potential customers.  The mistake I made?  I did not test the idea out with real people who had real money before I rolled it out on a grand scale.  If I had used test groups on a smaller scale first, I would have learned quickly that the idea had no merit… at least as far as people ‘voting with their dollars’ were concerned.  The costly lesson I discovered was that I should have strapped on a harness before I jumped out of the window!

Smart entrepreneurs are not ‘risk takers’ in the traditional sense of the phrase.  Those who are successful do not jump into a new business without thoroughly vetting out every aspect of what could possibly go wrong.  What’s more, they put as many safety nets in place as possible so that any failure is not as hurtful, should it actually occur.  Don’t get me wrong, there is always some degree of peril when you choose to start or completely revamp a business, but it does not have to destroy your life—if it does not work—the same as jumping out the window on the 124th floor!  Clever business owners will make sure their safety harnesses are secured firmly before even opening the window.

Many appraisal business owners are in a difficult position right now.  Due to the numerous changes in the industry, they are overwhelmed with ‘busy work’ but lack the resources to hire help.  Even those who have employed assistants in the past have—in large part—let them go.  Scope creep, stagnant fees, and other issues have not allowed the potential employer to have any employees.  There are just too many unknowns.  What if volume drops?  What if I train someone and they leave me?  Do I even have time to train?  Do I want to deal with the headaches that inevitably come with hiring?  What about taxes and benefits?  Will my overhead increase if I am paying someone else?  The list goes on and on and in-part explains why so many appraisers are trying to do it all on their own.

These viable questions are the reasons I started Your Appraisal Office.  At YAO, we have tried to reduce or eliminate the risk in ‘hiring’ help.  You do not have to find, train, or even pay employees.  No payroll.  No W-2’s.  No unemployment or workers comp headaches.  Volume drops?  No problem.  You pay on a volume-based scale.  No long-term contracts and nothing to lose.  In other words, we have put a proverbial ‘harness’ on the ‘risk’ of expanding your business and getting some help with your hectic lifestyle.  I invite you to check us out at www.YourAppraisalOffice.com.

Now, go create some value!


Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he has found most of his success as a self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and consultant. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach (www.theappraisercoach.com) where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth.  He is also the Founder and President of Your Appraisal Office (www.yourappraisaloffice.com) which implements some of the systems he has developed to help lower costs and free up time for real estate business owners.   He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.


4 thoughts on “What Can Tom Cruise Teach the Appraisal Business Owner?”

  1. Coach: Share your love, or lack thereof for Tom Cruise, but like you, I admire his courage, or is it his madness. Whatever, that’s not what prompted me to write. I’m writing about your tag line “Now go create some value”. Just this morning I addressed that issue in a response to a disappointed seller. As I explained, appraisers DO NOT CREATE VALUE. Value is created in the open market among competing buyers and sellers. Appraisers simply, or perhaps not so simply, analyze that data to arrive at the most probable value based on the most recent buyer and seller activity. But create value? I think not. Just an observation. Tom

    1. @Tom: Good observation. I, of course, realize that appraisers do not create value. It is a play on words. The value I am advocating is not real estate values. The value I am admonishing you (and others) to create is value for others. Money is only a green receipt for value given to others. If you want to be successful, you must create something of value for others. I have already written an article on this very topic, but it has not made it through the editing process yet. Look for it in the weeks to come. Thanks for your input and now, go create some value….for others! 🙂

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