How Arjun Paliwal borne a booming business from the ‘worst case’

Having deviated from his well worn and comfortable career path almost five years ago, sound situational analysis allowed Arjun Paliwal to birth his successful buyers’ agency.

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Arriving on Australian shores at the dawn of the 2010s, Mr Paliwal almost immediately entered employment with one of the nation’s largest corporations, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) where he rose rapidly through the ranks until assuming the role of branch manager at the bank’s Marrickville outpost.

It was here, he admits, where “all the curiosity started.”

“All the lending you see, the deposits in, the deposits out, the business owners, the personal accounts, a lot of stuff going on.”

Becoming the economic equivalent of a kid in a candy store, Mr Paliwal noted he wasn’t alone throughout the whole process, accompanied by his deep, innate curiosity, a characteristic he heralded as a “friend.”

Not only was his interest in the expansive world of Australian property sewn during his time at the CBA, the role also formed a crucial element in one of his earlier professional aspirations - becoming the chief executive officer at the bank.

‘Too comfortable’

Despite liking his role to the point where his ambitions ended at the summit of the CBA mountain, Mr Paliwal admits progression through the bank’s ranks failed to adequately fill his cup.

“It was too comfortable,” he recounted. “It [was] this weird feeling when you look in the mirror each morning, you’re off to work and you know where you’re headed. And for some reason, clarity and execution and pathways for people was a great thing, but for me it was the opposite to know too much about where I was heading.”

“That’s the perfect pathway [at CBA]. It’s a dream pathway, but it’s the fact that it was so predictable, so in front of you, and you’d had that path and everything was ticking boxes as you went on.”

In his eyes, “there wasn’t that extra layer of excitement.”

How did he circumvent the mundanity of his former path? He built his best possible worst-case scenario without necessarily knowing what his next step was; a task which required checking off several key factors; including ensuring his mortgages were in order and his passive income stream was hefty enough to support him.

By asking himself what the worst outcome was, Mr Paliwal painted a colourful picture detailing the potential ramifications of a significant personal and professional pivot.

So what was that “worst case” scenario? “At 30, you come back to a six-figure income job, and you come back with a good amount of connections in the bank. You’ve already purchased nine properties up until that point. Your wife still loves you…you hope, and your dogs still love you.”

Ultimately, working out his worst case led to him leaving the safety of the big four bank.

Within three months he’d landed on InvestorKit.

Reflecting back to the business’ first day, he admittedly wasted time figuring out “40 cool things I’m going to do… what’s my logo [and] what’s my website.”

“What first day Arjun did is definitely not what someone should do [which] was try and be cool, look cool, kind of like the business card scene from American Psycho.”

While these are certainly important pieces of fabric which needed to be woven into the cloth of a successful business, he explained “those things don’t really matter.”

He recalls his energy and time could have been more efficiently channelled into “figuring out the best way I’m going to deliver value to someone, who I’m going to deliver it to [and] what I have to do.”

“These sorts of things would have been far more powerful,” he declared. But, for any prospective business owner chewing their fingernails at the fact they’ve spent the early months of their endeavour stressing over the perfect name or logo, Mr Paliwal reassures them it took him two years of efforts and failures to come to this realisation.

An evolving idea

His early vision for InvestorKit involved the business becoming a “crazy one-stop shop of everything. In summary, the kit for investors.” But, once he came to the realise no single person would be capable of doing all he envisioned throughout InvestorKit’s infancy, he peeled his plan and approach back, honing in instead on “the idea of specialisation which was helping investors make quality, data-driven decisions to start or scale portfolios.”

Having landed upon his base camp and gained further clarity on InvestorKit’s trajectory, he realised “all these things disappeared that I didn’t any longer need to or want to do because I felt like every time, I did something more than that, I was taken away from the service quality I could deliver.”

“We just absolutely zoned down to delivering buyer’s agency services for investors who want to outperform.”

Over time, this modus operandi has bred incredible success for InvestorKit, capped off by the brand winning the Buyer’s Agency of the Year award at the prestigious 2023 Real Estate Business Awards. Mr Paliwal described claiming the accolade as a “special moment,” which allowed him to reflect all which needed to occur for this success to eventuate.

With a vision of being “the most trusted data-driven buyers agency for successful business owners and professionals looking to scale their portfolio,” he explained the crucial element in everything action InvestorKit undertakes is “having the information that matters.”

From here, with the data as the sturdy foundation underpinning a clients’ investment journey, InvestorKit “can go into a deeper journey.”

While the common perception of data is an extremely complex system of intricate, interrelated numbers and figures – like interest rates and finance trends – Mr Paliwal’s view is different. To him, “data is also how many shoes are at the open home [or] how quickly something’s selling on an individual house versus the same street and another house.”

His position that “data is very much interpreted in different ways to different people” further ratifies this and forms the solid foundation upon which he built InvestorKit into the Colosseum of Australian buyers’ agencies.

Quality over quantity

However, the fabric of InvestorKit is not stitched purely with data. Mr Paliwal explained that within the business’ core exists a combination of “the world just in general moving towards a time-poor world, and more expectations of us moving forward in the long-term to produce quality as the machines take care of all the quantity.”

These factors have been definitive in the rise of InvestorKit, acting as the laurels upon which Mr Paliwal and his business can rest upon. Moreover, they’ve been core contributors towards the businesses’ transformation into what the name on the door suggests – a kit.

The importance of the service InvestorKit provides has only grown in recent years, especially as more and more Australians taking their first step onto the property ladder opt for the assistance of a buyers’ agent to ensure their journey is both worthwhile and rewarding.

However, Mr Paliwal recalled a time when the journey was neither worthwhile or rewarding for either the buyers’ agent or the vendor – COVID-19.

At a time when turbulence and uncertainty became as familiar to Australians as their next door neighbour, he revealed it was no different for InvestorKit – as evidenced by events in Victoria’s Bendigo which shaped the short and long term prospects of the business.

He recounted how a client was a property in purchase in the historic town all but finalised as the ominous clouds of COVID rolled over the nation, but, as in many walks of life, everything came to head due to the pandemic and his client needed to back out because of alterations to their business fundamentals.

An honest, transparent conversation with the property’s sales agent at a time when all sorts of doubts and questions were rolling through Mr Paliwal’s mind, including the viability of his business, not only ensured he and his client navigated the period relatively unscathed, but also developed a deeply respectful relationship between the Bendigo agent and himself that would be harvested many times in the ensuing years.

600-strong goals

Now, the business is in a strong position, whereby its sights are firmly set on constructing the most successful buyers’ agency possible – whether success is defined by impact, profit, or any other metric. This, he explained, only requires InvestorKit to manage 0.33 per cent of all investor transactions Australia-wide – or the equivalent of 600 sales per year.

While InvestorKit is yet to hit that highly coveted 600 mark, Mr Paliwal shared how understanding where to rest his expectations for business growth and success has created an environment where he can go “all chips in on building a team that’s so special.”

He revealed his desire for InvestorKit to possess a group “that has an extra level of extra-ness.”

“I say that in terms of process, service, research, reports, due diligence, something that goes beyond what any one person can deliver,” he said.

Mr Paliwal described how having the goal of managing 600 yearly transactions tattooed into his mind and acting as north star guiding the practices of InvestorKit has allowed him to clearly define the businesses trajectory moving forward.

“In summary, when I bring it out to what my business is planning to do and want to head towards – it’s commoditizing research to make it available so people know where the best interpretation of that research is.”

He wants to mould his team into a group of Lebron James’. A strange comparison to make when viewed from a superficial lens, but when Mr Paliwal breaks his thinking down, clarity is restored.

“Lebron James hoops. He doesn’t fight in the cage,” he explained, referring to the fact the Los Angeles Lakers star has spent 20 years remaining in his lane and maximising his talent and output in his field of expertise. James has chosen to be a master of one, as opposed to a jack of all trades and master of none.

With this in mind, the head of InvestorKit detailed his need to “create a team of specialists that are the best in the field, and that’s what we’re on a mission of doing.”

And it’s clearly paying off. What started out as a best possible worst case ended with recognition as the leading Australian buyers’ agent this year at the 2023 Real Estate Business Awards. But to Mr Paliwal, the physical awards significance pales in comparison to its impact.

“The most important piece from that award wasn’t winning it from a satisfaction to say, ‘oh, we’re the best of this,’ it was the sense of belief to go, ‘we’re on the right path here,’” he concluded.

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