When I first launched my professional career after graduating from the NC State Business School back in 2009, I was a freshman in the great big world of adulthood. Starry-eyed and dead-set on landing a job with a Fortune 500 company in Raleigh, I put my nose to the grindstone making damn well sure I could write that $740 per month rent check. I gave it all I could, but as the story goes, the job market for new graduates was – how should I put this – busted. The only jobs available at the time were the jobs nobody wanted – unpaid internships, highly questionable commission-only sales (or as some companies phrased it ‘marketing’) positions, and a handful of entry-level ‘experience required’ desk jobs at a few financial institutions who had survived the turmoil of 2008. 

Deflated from the job search and not quite ready to detach from my alma mater, I found my way to work at NC State as a young admissions representative. Although the economy was down, this was a job I absolutely loved – and even though I didn’t know it at the time, it was a job that set the foundation for the professional I am today. Shortly after I left that position, I started working as the marketing director for a successful start-up for the next several years. This job opened my eyes to the true meaning of entrepreneurship, and during my tenure in that role I discovered a true passion for building something great from the ground-up. I was 28, passionate, and blessed (cursed?) with the desire to work with and along side of hungry entrepreneurs. I was hooked. 

Fast forward a bit… 

It’s the eve of 2019, and I’ve been working as a professional real estate broker for a few years now. Although I started at a larger firm here in the Triangle, I knew deep down that I still had this desire to work along side other entrepreneurial minds. I needed a firm that supports the small-business mindset and innovative thinking required to run your own business. I needed something fresh, proprietary, and new. 

When I first met John Costello, I have to say I thought he was a big-shot. He wore the shiniest pair of shoes (or as I like to call them ‘banker’s shoes’) I had ever seen. His shirt was neatly pressed, his sport coat looked expensive, and he talked faster than a wall street stock trader. (For the record, he’s really down-to-earth, in case you were wondering). I wasn’t sure what to think of him, really, until I listened to what he had to say. Now, if you’ve ever heard an entrepreneur speak, you’ll know that passion oozes from every sentence they can muster. I know, I’ve been around a few of them and can tell almost instantly when someone actually cares about the work they do and the people they serve, and John was one of them. After a short but impactful meeting, I left his office knowing one thing. I had to be a part of it. Whatever it was he was doing, I wanted to be there – right beside him – in the materialization of a dream that helps other entrepreneurs realize theirs. It was a logical move for me, and so – after a few weeks of procrastination – I took the leap…and I haven’t looked back since. 

Being an agent at Costello has taught me a number of valuable life and professional lessons. Always put relationships before revenue, never discount your goals, stay focused and keep moving – just to name a few. Most valuable of all, however, is the idea that entrepreneurs – whether in real estate or any other industry – need to band together to turn dreams into tangible realities. Entrepreneurs need support in non-traditional capacities. They need to know their ideas are worth pursuing and that the bottom line can and should be adjusted for the bigger picture. If it makes business sense, and doesn’t compromise your ethics and values, then do it. 

Now, there’s something to be said about working for a large organization. Some people need to feel like they need to have a big name behind their work. A name that has been proven – year in and year out – to provide excellence to their clients. While that may be true for some, for me it’s always been a little different. The way I see it, the hard-working individuals behind the scenes make up the whole operation. Without the parts, there is no whole. What I love about working at Costello is that even though the company bears a name, it’s the name of a person I actually know on a personal level. I’m proud to carry the name, and although I’m an independent agent affiliated with this firm, I still have control over my business. I’m free to be an entrepreneur – the little guy – who on a smaller scale values personalized client experiences to wow and delight those I work with on a regular basis. 

My hope is that in time Costello will grow to be a great company with many agents who have chosen to be apart of something special. I want this for John because I know that at the end of the day, when I close my laptop at night and kiss my wife goodnight, I work at a place that wants to see my dreams – however few or small – become more than just a way to provide for my family. I can sleep at night knowing that I work at a place that equips me to be the best entrepreneur – the best Real Estate Agent – I can be, and grow my business to whatever level I desire with no strings attached. It just makes business sense, doesn’t it? 


Want to learn more about how Costello Real Estate supports entrepreneurial agents? Let’s meet for coffee (on me!) Go here to get started!


Steven Squires is a Top-Producing Broker/REALTOR® with Costello Real Estate & Investments in Raleigh, NC. Call or email Steven at 919.880.5563 or steven@costellorei.com.


This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.