Some advice for aspiring developers

Had an interesting meeting yesterday with an MBA student who was in the class I spoke with earlier in the week.

He’s got a family business building / rehabbing buildings and is considering whether to go back to it with his MBA and try to grow it or take a more traditional job with a developer.

I’m obviously partial to entrepreneurs, but, in this instance, I advised going to work for someone else.


Well, for starters, he’s young. He can afford to spend a few years with a big developer getting experience entitling / building big projects without unduly shortening his runway when he does go out on his own.

Second, this is a pretty terrible time to start a real estate business. Prices are very high, construction labor is expensive, architects / engineers are busy with existing clients, the city is jammed up, finishes are expensive, etc. So it’s harder to make deals work than it is during a recession.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to do good deals now; it’s totally possible and we’re doing them. It’s just much harder than it is during a recession, with less room for error.

So, if you’re thinking of beginning your career, it may make sense to get experience on someone else’s dime for the next year or two, then go off on your own when the economy turns.