The Staying Power Blog

We write about our own experience scaling a professional services firm. Learn from our successes and failures. 

Hiring Entry Level vs. Experienced Staff, Setting Personal Boundaries for Your Business, and More with Mitchell Simonson

Posted by Ben Isley on Sep 8, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Mitchell Simonson is the founder of Simonson Appraisals, a virtual firm providing commercial real estate valuation services in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Mitchell Simonson is the founder of Simonson Appraisals, a virtual firm providing commercial real estate valuation services in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Mitchell founded the firm in January of 2019 and has grown to employ four staff appraisers and two admin staff. Mitchell worked in the real estate appraisal for several years at different firms to learn the industry. As he learned the business and grew as a professional, he felt more confident in starting his own business. Mitchell got his MAI designation and became a partner at a local firm from 2013-2018. As his book of business grew, he made the move to start Simonson Appraisals.

Growing a Virtual Firm

Mitchell organically found virtual work. Being on the road between states in an RV, he realized that he could work from anywhere with his computer and internet. This job and virtual capability enabled him and his family to continue traveling.

"One of the challenges of growing a virtual firm has been training the newer staff."

With the first hires in 2018, Mitchell still trained everyone in person. This year, in 2019, Mitchell has moved to remote training. He still considers this a work in progress. All full-time appraisers that Mitchell has hired have been experienced, with 6-10 years of appraisal experience. Onboarding a trainee appraiser requires lots of back and forth interaction and training. Mitchell is interested in creating training videos to solve this, but recognizes that there will still be a dialogue necessary.

Work vs. Play

Mitchell, Brandon, and Thomas discuss working in your business vs. on your business. Here the discuss the purpose of business books, given that these books are generally high-level and don't dig into the day to day aspects of managing a business. It can be tough to scale yourself out of the daily work to free time for more planning and strategy. Business books should be read through the lens of your business, and the book is a success if there's even just one or two principles that you can take and apply.

Another factor at work in this section is drawing the lines between work and play. It's difficult to draw these lines when not everyone has the same definition of work and play. For many entrepreneurs, working on their small business is their hobby, it is their play. Many entrepreneurs sacrifice traditional "play" in order to grow the business. Getting deeply involved in this cycle makes traditional "play" seem like work. Taking time for family and friend events, dinners, and vacation all seem more like work because they are taking away from the hours of the business.


Mitchell feels like his biggest challenge is over-commitment. Over-commitment to every task at hand in the business leaves no time to design the business for growth and create new processes and trainings.

"I was just over-committed and had more on my plate than I could physically maintain. I need to someone to help hold me accountable and help me become more proactive vs. reactive for everything that was happening in my life and business."

To protect his time, Mitchell now creates a life plan and schedule that's separate from the business life and schedule. Some key basics have really helped Mitchell, namely exercise and eating healthy. These activities help Mitch preserve his thinking time. This time to yourself to plan and brainstorm is what creates those "Ah-ha" moments that allow you to innovate and grow.

Learn more about Mitch and his work:

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