Anna Bellomo grew her company from $112 million in 2020 to over $300 million transacted in 2021 by focusing on happiness first, growth second.
Anna Bellomo, founder of District Homes in Berkeley, California, had a staggeringly successful 2021. And equally important to Anna: She had lots of fun doing it.
“My goal each year is to do a great job and have a great time,” said Anna. “If growth follows, that’s awesome.”
Growth has followed — and in a big way. Anna’s team of 20 closed over $318 million in sales volume, nearly tripling their 2020 total. Her barely four-year-old company rose to prominence as the highest-volume small real estate company in her market. She has added 17 agents to her team since partnering with Side to launch District Homes in 2018.
What’s more, that growth has been 100% organic. Here are Anna’s top tips for team leaders seeking similar results:
Focus on happiness first, growth second
Anna never set out to cross $300 million. Each time she has met with her Side business manager to set goals for the coming year, her main objective has been the same: Happiness.
“Of course, we have production goals to keep us on track,” Anna explained. “We’re very competitive. But ultimately, what matters most is that we’re happy, that we’re excited to come to work each day.”
That’s one of the big reasons Anna started her own company: She wanted more say in how things were done so she could build a culture and company that brought her joy. Because joy in what you do is necessary if you want to grow.
“When you’re happy, you produce more,” said Anna. “Whereas if you set a goal and don’t have fun trying to get there, you’re probably not going to get there.”
Your culture is your best recruiting tool
Anna did not recruit a single one of the 17 agents who joined District Homes since its founding.
“The way I see it if you set out to have a certain number of agents, you’re prioritizing quantity,” said Anna. “And that’s a perfectly fine business model, but I knew it wouldn’t make me happy to run my business that way, constantly training new recruits.”
So Anna focused instead on developing the agents she already had and creating a rock-solid company culture. And in time, agents started to approach her about being part of the company.
“We’ve established ourselves as a very well-respected group of agents in our market,” said Anna. “When people see that, and when they see how community-minded and focused on everyone’s happiness we are, they want to be a part of that.”
Anna’s firm understanding of her company’s culture and goals has helped her attract like-minded powerhouses to her team, such as Alissa Custer and Jess Waggoner, who brought their team MAJ Realtors to District Homes in 2021. The team produced over $86 million that year.
“We wanted to work somewhere that made us happy,” said Alissa of the decision to join District Homes. “We knew Anna wanted the same. And we’re so glad we made the move. This year, we’re on track for even higher volume than last year.”
Reduce the time you spend on your back office
To achieve organic growth like Anna’s, you have to reduce the time you spend on tasks that a) don’t generate revenue, and b) don’t actively support your team.
Anna explained: “I tell my agents they can call me any time, and I will always prioritize those calls. But I’m only able to do that because I have Side in my corner handling things like payments, tech implementation, and marketing collateral.”
By streamlining her back office, Anna was able to devote more time to building a culture that attracts top-tier talent.
“It’s not about Side, it’s about District Homes,” said Anna. “People are joining District Homes because they’re attracted by the culture we’ve created here. But we wouldn’t have been able to create that culture without Side.”