What is the Business Owner’s Trap and How to Avoid it as a Property Franchisee?

Estate Agent franchisee in the office

If you have embarked on the journey to business ownership with a property franchise, you have probably done so for reasons including freedom, flexibility, lucrative profits, support and work-life balance, among others.

However, being a business owner comes with important challenges that are worth considering. One such includes the case of the business owner’s trap. A situation that tends to occur several years after your business has gotten off the ground. If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s a good idea to sit up and take notice.

In this article, we explain what the business owner’s trap is, highlight the key signs that you’re trapped and showcase several important ways to get out of it. Let’s get started.

What is the business owner’s trap?

The business owner’s trap in the case of an estate agency franchise normally arises around three years after the business has been set up. It is normal and expected that you’ll be fully involved in and hands-on in your business at the beginning.

But the owner’s trap creeps in once the initial phase is over. The business owners’ trap involves being caught in a situation where you’re responsible for managing and running every aspect of your business. Essentially, this is a counterproductive situation because it goes against every reason why you initially entered into business ownership in the first place.

Being stuck in the owner’s trap means your estate agent franchise business is plateauing, you have no free time, your customers are highly reliant on you, your team can’t make decisions without you and that your business growth isn’t as strong as it could be.

How do you know if you are caught in the business owner’s trap? What are the signs?

Being a one-person show in your own business is challenging. It means you’re spread quite thin, putting out fires, making decisions and solving problems on your own. There are several other telltale signs that you are caught in the business owner’s trap, among which include:

  • Lack of or no personal time off and holidays: Many newly established business owners are afraid to take time off because they worry that something will go wrong while they are away. This often means working seven-day weeks. And when it comes to taking a holiday, you’re probably concerned about how your business is run, meaning you take your phone and computer with you. Alternatively, you may even stop taking breaks or those much-needed holidays for fear of your business running into the ground while you’re away.
  • Customers are overly-reliant on you: You’ve spent a lot of time, effort and resources to acquire your clients and earn their trust and business. However, when your customers start calling you only for even the smallest issues or requests, it’s time to step back and reconsider your position. As a business owner, you should have a team that your customers should reach out to. While knowing customers on a first-name basis can be great for your business’ reputation and customer loyalty, it also means you’re too deeply involved in the fine details and you need to take a step back.
  • You are frequently copied-in on emails that require your involvement: It can become quite overwhelming when your employees are also overly-reliant on you to make any and all business decisions. This not only means that your employees are disempowered and afraid to make a move without your go-ahead. It also means a lot more strain and stress for you, having to answer every query, concern and email yourself.
  • No robust sales pipeline in place: If your business is highly dependent on you to operate well, it means that when you’re away, business can tend to dry up. This lack of a robust sales pipeline in place or even proper processes that your team can follow and manage means that you haven’t standardised your procedures and that your team is stuck waiting for you to make the next call. This can ultimately impact your sales as well as the ability to scale your business incrementally yet successfully.

How to avoid falling into the owner’s trap

While the above-mentioned signs are only a few examples of how and where things can go wrong, there are ways to step off the conveyor belt and finally enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Here are a two sound strategies that you might consider that will help you regain that much-needed work-life balance and help restore flexibility and freedom in your schedule:

  • Create the right operating procedures and processes for your team: If your team is still highly-reliant on you to make all the decisions and there are no documented processes in place that they can follow, you’re deeply stuck in the owner’s trap and you’re essentially disempowering your team from doing their work as they should. Every time that an employee comes to you with a question, consider committing pen to paper and writing it down. Build a database, spreadsheet or operations manual based on such questions to ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of a given situation as opposed to reaching out to you for a decision every single time.
  • Create an organisational chart that’s structured alphabetically: A cost-effective way to ensure that you aren’t the first port of call for your customers is to ensure that you list your employees alphabetically on your website. Often, organisational charts list the CEO at the top of the chart. However, the small readjustment of putting employees in alphabetical order while specifying their areas of expertise will mean that you will not always be the default go-to person every time your customers need a problem solved. 


When it comes to avoiding the pitfalls of the business owner’s trap, you need to be highly aware and mindful that this trap quickly creeps in and is difficult to get out of. However, there are small yet powerful and even cost-effective ways for you to avoid becoming the default go-to person for every client and employee.

By following some of the guidelines mentioned above, you can enjoy greater flexibility and more freedom as a business owner as opposed to shouldering the full responsibility. At the Belvoir Franchise Group, we offer aspiring business owners interested in the property industry the chance to become a franchisee with us.

We offer a broad range of tools, training and support that can help you get set up successfully but also ensure you avoid challenges such as falling into the business owner’s trap. All you have to do is reach out to us today and our friendly team will ensure you get all the answers you’re looking for. Call us or leave us a message and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might also like: What Do Estate Agents Do? A Typical Day in the Life of an Estate Agent in the UK, How to Implement AI in Your Real Estate Agency Franchise and How to Increase Customer Retention as a Franchisee

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