As our third woman to share her story with us as part of the “Real World” women interview series, Kirstin Dunn is a superwoman! A mother of 3 beautiful children, she also runs her own Property Group, Semple Property Group which she built from the ground up in 2013. Kirstin also has recently been nominated for multiple awards as part of the 2019 AusMumpreneur Awards including; a Customer Service Award and a Leadership Award. Kirstin is a beautiful soul who keeps it real – that was made very true last year when Kirstin was featured on most major news channels and newspapers in WA after giving birth to her third child, Harlow on the side of the Kwinana Freeway after her contractions increased rapidly over a short space of time.
Keep reading below to hear Kirstin’s real world women story!
Kirstin, can you please give us a bit of a bio of who you are and what you do?
First and foremost, I’m the mother of three beautiful children; Hudson (6) Peyton (4) and Harlow (1). I’m also the licensee and director of Semple Property Group a medium sized residential agency in Perth, WA. We opened in April 2013, just mum and I around her dining room table and today we are a team of 13 with an annual income of $1.24 million and growing. We went from a home business to owning 210sqm premises in Cockburn Central.
What is the biggest personal risk you have taken and how did you arrive at the decision to take the leap?
I have always been in real estate, but my biggest leap of faith was leaving my previous job of over nine years with Tully First National. I earnt great money, I loved my boss, I loved the team I managed, and I had a lot of job satisfaction. However, I had hit a ceiling where I had advanced as far as I could with that business. I also knew my future would include children, something I did not want to have to put second to a job where I answered to someone else. I had a choice to come back from maternity leave to my well paid, comfortable job, or take a leap into business ownership and grow a company from nothing. I chose the latter and it has paid off.
You have already lived such an exciting and inspirational life – how do you stay motivated and how do you work out what you want to achieve in your life?
Goal setting. I set myself personal, business and family goals. Something that my business coach Claire reminded me the importance of when we got working on reinvigorating my passion and drive. After four years in business I found I had somewhat stalled and stopped professional growth and therefore business growth. Setting goals, both large and small really keeps my eye on the prize! Goal setting motivates me to put in the extra 1% and it is something I also really enjoy pushing my staff to do. Daily I enjoy listening to business / personal growth podcasts and reading books. I also attend real estate and professional training whenever something interesting becomes available – at least once a month. I have also surrounded myself with an inspiring group of highly successful and ambitious women.
I think that success breeds success, ambition breeds ambition. Seeing my friends succeed in their careers makes me immensely proud, but also reflect on my own career and business and ask myself what else can I be doing. What habits can I take from this person to be more efficient or help improve my work life balance.
You are also a mumma to 3 beautiful children – how do you juggle it all?
Organisation – I have taken a lot from other mothers in my circle to try to manage the load of three small children. Small things like meal prepping on a Sunday, making school lunches the night before to lessen the morning chaos, doing one ENTIRE load of washing per day, no matter how small. I follow accounts like @theorganisedhousewife for tips and tricks from someone who has done it before and has parenting three kids plus running a business down to a fine art!
Delegate – my kids do a lot for themselves… My six-year-old can sort his morning routine out himself, he cleans his room, does his reader and sight words and generally kills it at life. My four-year-old isn’t as self-sufficient and her room is a tip, but she’s getting there. My husband is also aware of his tasks every single day and night. I’m not saying we work perfectly – but I think we’re a pretty well-oiled machine.
HIRE A MOTHER EFFING CLEANER. ….. Doesn’t have to be a cleaner, but basically my advice is to outsource the job you hate the most. We have one three hours fortnightly. The rest we maintain with 30 minutes a day.
Don’t be a martyr. . . if you need help ASK directly for it. From anyone in your life. Whenever I’m feeling over whelmed I will take five minutes and ask someone for help. I can’t recall a time I’ve been told no.
How would you define success for the life of Kirstin Dunn?
Success is having a successful business and earning an income that allows my family and I to have the financial freedom to travel. I would really love to be recognised as an industry leader amongst my peers. Long term I would love my business to be a real contender in the Real Estate market in Western Australia. I would love to be a household name – much like the Harcourts or LJ Hookers.
You run a successful business, Semple Property Group – you must have times where you experience Imposter Syndrome, or the feeling of overthinking, second guessing yourself, etc. How do you deal with this and what advice would you have for other women who doubt themselves?
Being a young female (I was 25 when I started my business) in a very male dominated industry I have often felt like I was being overlooked / under estimated or passed by. But I think that I’ve always had a real belief in myself and my ability. I know ALOT about my industry. I have a lot of knowledge. Sometimes in a ‘negotiation’ situation I feel like I am extremely different to the standard real estate agent, I don’t use the standard ‘scripts and dialogs.’ But I now see that this works in my favour. People often comment that I come across as more genuine and sincere in my approach.
I have had male competitors make negative comments to clients about me “not being available after school pick up” but I just ignore the criticism. I believe when I go into a listing appointment, I will be the best person for that role. Soulla (my incredible mother and business partner) stepping away from the business was also a massive call to action for me. I was no longer able to rely on anyone else other than myself. I was no longer able to refer back to her for the jobs I would otherwise put in the too hard basket.
The Eating your cake too methodology talks a lot about getting the fuck out of your own head and your own way. Can you tell us about a time where YOU were the one getting in your own way, how did you realise it and what did you do about it?
When we moved into our beautiful new office I stopped growing. I stopped advancing and I rested on my laurels. I was putting in minimum effort and became complacent with the lack of results. I think I woke up one day and realised that I was the only one in control of my results and my growth. This is when I decided to re-evaluate my goals, re-organise my weekly schedule and start working one on one with a coach.
What would you say has been your biggest lesson learnt over your professional journey?
Think. Plan. Discuss. And THEN execute. I have wasted a lot of money and time working on the fly and learning things the hard way. The financial / taxation / business management side of my business has 100% been the biggest stressor for me and six years in I am only now completely on the right page.
What advice do you have for women who wonder if they can manage the mumma juggle, or feel like they have to make a choice between a career and motherhood?
Being a mother AND having a successful career is the most rewarding thing I have ever done and could ever imagine doing. I think that you CAN have a great work life and be a kick ass mum but you need a great support system of family or friends, the ability to be your own boss OR an understanding boss who realises that a highly functioning mum CAN DO a full time role within the parameters of part time hours and a career that you are passionate about. I am a big fan of a side hustle that has the potential to turn into a full time career.
Nothing makes me happier than hearing or reading about a woman who is able to quit her mundane 9-5 because her passion project is earning her enough money to become her full-time role.
I would also highly recommend talking to as many women who are doing what you’re wanting to do as possible. I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with women who are trailblazers in the Real Estate industry, their advice and support has been invaluable to me.
What do you think often prevents women from asking for what they want, and what advice do you have for the EYCT community to help them build confidence?
I am a massive believer in “fake it until you make it”. I ALWAYS said YES to my previous boss, then I would go away and learn how to do what she wanted. I made myself irreplaceable. I did all of the little jobs, without being asked. I was the first to arrive and the last to leave. I answered every phone call and email, even if it was just to say, “I understand what you need and I will get it to you by xyz”. I really started in Real Estate with the lowest skill set and experience in my office.
I was an 18-year-old university drop out with only waitress experience. I quickly went from Receptionist to Personal Assistant to Office Manager and Executive Assistant to the Director. I think it was a perfect mixture of great work ethic and a positive can-do attitude. I can’t recall a single time I said no… it taught me so much. I literally had a time where I did EVERYONE’S role in the office. From trust accounting to settlements but it has served me so well for where I am now.
What is a quote that you live by?
“If the plan doesn’t work change the plan, but never the GOAL!”
Thank you so much Kirstin for sharing your journey with us – you are an absolute inspiration!
If you’ve found yourself stuck in your own way – NOW is the time to get out of it. I can help you. Just ask me how. All you need to do is click here and take the first step.