How one broker turned a big loss into a big win

Sometimes people need to find themselves in a helpless situation before they feel ready to follow their dreams. Just ask Birdie Wealth director Nathan Smith.

Smith had always wanted to launch his own broking business but felt no urgency to do it. In 2016, after working as a mortgage writer for eight years, something unexpected happened.

Two weeks after he was recognised as one of Australia’s top 10 brokers under 30, and right before the Christmas break, he was told that he’d been made redundant.

After a quick panic attack, a beer or two, and a chat with his wife, Smith finally decided to start the business he’d long dreamed about. He launched Birdie Finance the following year.

“I was surprised by the number of people who embraced the Birdie Wealth brand,” Smith told MPA. “Many clients tracked me down and continued to work with me, which was really humbling. It allowed the business to grow quickly.”

It’s not for everyone
Being self-employed doesn’t suit everyone. “There are actually a lot of benefits to being an employee. Once you’re self-employed, the buck stops with you and everything is your fault. If you have a team working with you, you quickly realise you’re working for them and are accountable to everyone, not the other way around,” Smith said.

“Throughout the day you’re consistently switching hats — bookkeeper, marketing manager, HR, and receptionist. The greatest benefit is setting up structure and processes that suit your style. It’s the ability to put your character behind a brand and see that come to life through marketing.”

Being aware of the high dropout rate of the industry has given Smith a clear understanding of what broking requires, allowing him to focus on other areas in his business.

“There is no right time”
Brokers looking to start their own business need to know their numbers, Smith recommends.

They should know the number of loans they can settle, and the number of leads they can generate. They should then focus on running cash flows and forecasts to ensure they can cover start-up costs and the income gap until commissions start flowing in.

Many people have told Smith that they’re waiting for the “right time” to become self-employed.

“The problem is, there is no right time, there will never be,” Smith said.

“There’s always a reason not to make the jump. My situation was that we had two kids, a wife wanting a third, and a handful of mortgages. We backed ourselves knowing that there would always be another job in the future if it didn’t work out. The only way to overcome fear and apprehension is to plan thoroughly... and then take the leap!”

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