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Femi Aguda: Piloting Block 22 Realty LLC to greater heights

Femi Aguda is the Founder/Managing Broker of Block 22 Realty LLC, a real estate brokerage firm in Chicago. He is also a Real Estate Investor and more recently Crypto investor. 

He started his real estate career in 2016 first as an intern for a year with a real estate investor after which he decided to get his real estate license in 2017. He is a top producer and until recently he was a board member of the Chicago Association of Realtors Global Real Estate Council (2019-2021).

Femi Aguda is an Engineer by training but business man by calling. He hold a B.Eng degree from FUTA, Nigeria and a post Graduate Diploma from Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales, UK

His driving passion and personal vision is to constantly add value.

In this interview with Daily Sun, Femi Aguda shares his successful story, family values and lots more.

Excerpts:

 

 As CEO of a real estate company, kindly tell us how you found yourself in that business? 

My history in real estate started when I was growing up in Nigeria. As a family of 7 (5 kids), we lived in a two-bedroom flat in an estate and I always ended up sleeping on the floor.  In my quest to solve this, I turned my pain into passion and my passion into business. So, for me going into real estate seems natural as I chose it as my vehicle to wealth.

Every business has its ups and down, what are the peculiar challenges of your business and how do you cope with it?

As a real estate broker, major challenges in this business are:

• LOW Inventory: Without inventory there is no sales/income and that result in no business.

• No is the most frequent response: You need to grow a tough skin to withstand the volumes of Nos in the pipelines as they are more than enough to demoralize you. You will need to develop staying power to get to the YES!

• The timing: It will take a minimum of 3 years to see desired results. I mean 3 years of hard work, dedication (giving it all it takes) and getting out of your comfort zone (be out there to attract your target). Real estate is sure a long-term game.

• Growing online competition from listing portals and homebuyer apps. Examples are Zillow, redfin and the likes. This is a game changer as there a more cash sales than loan funded.

• Rising Interest rates which affect the cost of getting a loan to buy real estate.

 

As an entrepreneur, what are the big lessons of entrepreneurship you would like to share with us?

Most people go into entrepreneurship in other to have more Time and more Money. But from my experiences and others that I know or read about, this is far from true as the early years can be rough –Time consuming and money-gulping. In fact, most entrepreneurs end up working-in-the-business instead of working-on-the-business.

Eventually it will pay off if you remain consistent and put systems in place.

What else do you do that serves as another stream of income for you?

In the early years, I used my down time to work as Delivery driver for Amazon Flex and Uber Eat as I needed to fund my daily living and business expenses.

Now, I invest in cryptocurrency.

There is this growing notion that everyone will be better off by embracing entrepreneurship while there is also a counter notion that not everyone is wired to be an entrepreneur. What is your opinion?

I’ll say everyone is wired to be creative and enterprising. I am of the school of thought that you can be an entrepreneur or an intrapreneur. That is, you can either be one that sets up your own business with a new idea or concept (entrepreneur) or work in an organization as an employee tasked with developing innovative ideas/projects (intrapreneur).

 

Generally, what are lessons you have learnt about doing business in America which will be of benefit to Nigerians migrating to the US?

• You must be licensed to operate most businesses here. Example Licensed real Estate agent, Licensed Barber, Licensed Nail technicians…e.t.c

• You must follow the rules of engagement (un-learn and re-learn) especially in real estate.

• In USA, business registration is done on State basis. So ensure you understand the way each state operates and the governing laws of the industry.

 

How do you stay connected to your Nigerian roots?

I have relatives in Nigeria, so I do come home for visits. Also, recently I have been doing a lot of speaking engagements both to realtors in Nigeria and entrepreneurs alike where I teach, motivates on industry and life experiences.

I also plan in future to invest in real estate development in Nigeria –So watch out.

 

What do you miss most about Nigeria and what values do you uphold even while living in America?

I miss mostly the food, the people and Lagos vibes (excluding the traffic..lol). The values I uphold are:

• Hard work: Nigerians are one of the most hard-working people on earth and I am one as well.

• Innovative: Believe me when I say we are one of the most innovative people.

• God-fearing, you can’t take away the fact that Nigerians are people that loves God.

 

Your post shows how much you value your family, your wife. Can you give us an insight into how a sense of family helps a man in his endeavour.?

Who you marry can make or break your life thus your business. When there is peace at home its reflective in your work or business. Entrepreneurs are risk takers and having the love and support of your spouse and family goes a long way in helping to boost your confidence and giving you a home support advantage.

 

How do you balance your work with family demands, financially and otherwise?

As much as work is important to me, some other things are too.

First: Building rituals into your life – I value my family very much as such I create time for my family. For instance, I make it a point of duty to drop and pick up my kids every day from school. I believe whatever is important to us we will always find time.

 

Secondly: Set priorities – As there are only 24 hours in a day, you may have to think about your values and set some priorities based on those values. For example, if “being an involved parent” is a priority for you – setting aside time each night to play with your children might take priority over working those over-time hours in order to finance a bigger home.

 

Thirdly: Negotiate with your spouse –  Communication has been established as the life of any relationship especially marriage. Communicating with your wife and letting her know your business and business commitment helps both of you plan together and vice-versa thereby ensuring that both achieve some level of work-life balance.

 

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