For as long as I can remember, I have always been an entrepreneur. I did all of the normal kid hustles.
I mowed lawns, shoveled snow, and sold poinsettias. During middle school, I made my mom drive me to the grocery store to buy candy bars every week, and then I sold them on the bus on the way to and from school. I came home every day with at least $20 in my pocket.
In college, I started my own painting business. At 19, I had 11 full-time employees on my payroll. Nevertheless, it was exhausting. By the time I graduated in 2000, I was burnt out.
I decided to enter the world of corporate America, and I landed my dream job at a large investment company in Boston.
Soon after my first week on the job, I looked around my 2×2 cubicle. I smelled the reheated fish from the office microwave, and I grew tired of hearing every conversation going on in the room.
I didn’t land my dream job — I landed in hell.
Then I read a book that completely changed my life trajectory: Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It reignited the entrepreneur inside I have had for most of my life.
The book explained that real estate investment could give me financial freedom. And from inside of my 2×2 cubicle, freedom sounded really good. I realized I had a ton to learn, and I started my real estate education.
Not long after that, a friend of mine called me and asked if I was in my cubicle. I told him I was, and he sent me a website he wanted me to visit.
This was around the time when webcams had first become a thing. I opened the website and saw my friend on the webcam. He was at the beach and giving me the finger. I knew, that I needed to plan my exit strategy.
I’d put in my eight hours at work each day and then head to the coffee shop to work on business plans.
After a year of saving up money, I realized that if I wanted to get serious about real estate investment, it was time to quit my job. So, I put in my two weeks notice, and I moved to Florida, where the real estate market was booming at the time.
Since then, I’ve failed forward quite a few times and learned from my mistakes. Years later, I’ve had a successful real estate career, and now I want to pass along a few tips to help you build your own successful career.
You can spend all of your time looking for clients, or you could let your clients come to you.
When I started out I got my name and number printed on magnets that said something like “we buy homes.” I gave them out and soon enough I got a phone call from a woman who saw my magnet on a car at an auto care center, and I got my first deal.
Don’t throw away leads.
Just because you cannot do the deal right now, doesn’t mean you should throw it away. There was a point that I got very good at marketing, but I couldn’t keep up with all of my leads. Now, I have a larger team and more financial capital, but then I made the mistake of throwing them away. Instead, find other investors and share your leads with them. You will build goodwill and hopefully, they will refer leads back to you when you need them.
Don’t partner with someone for the sake of making the real estate world less lonely.
While this could apply to any business, I found real estate especially is a lonely line of work because you don’t have people working with you. Don’t partner with someone so you have someone to share the experience with. Instead, partner with someone because you have found someone that shares your ethical values and whose skills complement yours. You want to avoid partners have the same skills as you because you’ll run into a lot of knowledge gaps. Your partner should make your business better. It shouldn’t just be someone you know will agree with you.
Use the people in your network wisely.
My first ever deal was a property in Kentucky that I had never seen before. You need to know how to leverage the people you’ve met in college and throughout life to help you make decisions. Otherwise, you could miss out on great opportunities. However, when you do use them, make it worth their while. For that first deal, I split what I earned with my friend. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do, and if I need that friend to help me again in the future, he will genuinely want to help.
Read books—and lots of them.
For my first deal, I literally opened a book about purchasing properties and did what each chapter said to do. The book said to call a title company first, so after I found the property, I did that. Reading is the best way to learn what to do and minimize your mistakes. Without the books I read early in my career, I doubt I would be where I am today.
Even if you follow these tips, you will likely have your share of failures. Hopefully, you can do as I did and fail forward by learning from and growing stronger with each mistake.