Inkblot And Leapfrog To Expand Your Business

Nicholas Thomas via Unsplash


The Millionaire Real Estate Agent is built around four models that show readers how to build a bigger business than they thought possible. In the early 2000s, when the book was published, it was a remarkable thing to be a real estate agent and a millionaire. In the years since the first edition was published, we’ve seen agents and businesses executing the four models who net millions from their businesses. In studying their businesses, as we develop the second edition of MREA, we’ve added a fifth core model: The Expansion Model.

The Expansion Model is… well, expansive. It’s impossible to cover all of it in a single blog post, but we want to give you an understanding of the importance of expansion and the ways that you could approach it so that you can start thinking about your business in a bigger way.

The first approach is inkblotting. This involves spreading your business into neighboring areas slowly. Then, once you’ve tested your business in markets that are near your home base, you can leapfrog into markets farther away that offer bigger opportunities.

Create a Strong Home Base

The Expansion Model and the strategies used to expand should only be considered once you’ve mastered the economic, lead generation/database, budget, and organizational models. At this point, your business should be running like a finely tuned machine. Before engaging in inkblotting, leapfrogging, and region building, it’s important to first have the utmost confidence in your home base. Knowing the full capabilities of the business you’re expanding will save you headaches if you’re expanding quickly.

If you can, it’s always better to expand slowly, deepening your understanding of your business and the opportunity it holds, which is why we recommend starting with one new test location and then inkblotting the areas surrounding your home base first. Then you can leapfrog into new regions from which you can inkblot, stretching your business like a thin blanket across many regions.          


Inkblotting boils down to maintaining a span of control. You slowly build a number of strong businesses while moving into neighboring markets one by one. Like tipping over a bottle of ink, your business will flow across the area, saturating everything. While slow, inkblotting creates a durable expansion business. 

The first choice for your second location should a neighboring one. If your first expansion business is close to your home base, you can just inkblot into that area and reap many benefits. You’ll have the ability to leverage what you've already built and be close to the action so you can adjust easier. This first expansion venture is a laboratory for tests and tweaks to your business. By focusing on one new market, you can see the viability of your business in a new area with new people.

At this point, if you’ve kept your home base strong, you’ll be able to outlive your mistakes if the second location is not successful. No location is perfect until it is tested. Once your second location has systems that are viable and documented, it’s time to start inkblotting into additional neighboring markets.

Inkblotting should be the first approach you take to expand. And it’s okay if you find that it ends up being the only approach you use. It could be that you have so many opportunities in your surrounding area that you'll inch your business forward endlessly without needing to jump into regions farther afield. What inkblotting lacks in speed, it makes up for in strength. However, once you've landed on the right model and have perfected your systems, it's possible to speed up the process by leapfrogging into new regions.

Leapfrog and Build Regions

Leapfrogging is a different form of expansion. Instead of inkblotting across the map of your surrounding areas, you'll jump into areas of potentially greater opportunity. When you've identified a good opportunity, you'll leap into it, regardless of proximity. These new markets become your new regions.

The goal for each region you leapfrog into is to create strong position that your business can then begin inkblotting from. For example, if you’re based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, you will inkblot over time into the surrounding suburbs and smaller towns in the area such as Stillwater and Bartlesville. Then you might choose to leap into a bigger region like Oklahoma City, and from there start inkblotting into surrounding areas like Guthrie and Chickasha. But your home base will still serve the new region and every future region you establish. Think of it as a bee buzzing from flower to flower spreading pollen so the flowers can reproduce, ultimately returning to their hive (home base).

Your focus should be making new regions successful to the point that they seep into neighboring markets. Like your original expansion location, your lead generation should pull you into new markets surrounding each new region organically.

 “Expansion is about what you do when you hit a ceiling.” – Gary Keller

The idea of expansion can be daunting at first. Especially when you’ve become successful and comfortable in your home base market. But it also might be scary because of the rhythm of growth. That rhythm feels an awful lot like being out of balance. Your systems start to outpace each other and you’re often in an endless game of catch up as you grow and expand, but the rewards you can reap from expansion are unparalleled.

Even if you aren’t planning on expanding, it’s valuable to make your business expansion friendly anyway. Expandable businesses are stronger and more predictable than businesses that aren’t. If you’re expandable, you’ll be prepared to adjust when there are shifts in the market or in your organization. You’ll also have a clear sense of the value of your business if you choose to sell it down the line.

While the ultimate goal is to build your business with expansion in mind from the jump, if you haven’t been thinking this way yet, then we challenge you to start now.

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