5 More Things You’ll Regret Not Doing 10 years from Now by Vena Jones-Cox

Last week, I shared a list of things that every real estate investor needs to pay attention to starting NOW so that the rewards you’ll reap 10 years from now will be there when you want them.

These sorts of to-dos all fall into the category that Stephan Covey calls “Important but Not Urgent”: things we all know should be a priority, but never become one because they’re not “on fire”, as it were.

After completing my first list, I realized that there are other things that I wish I’d paid more attention to—in fact, KNEW I should be paying more attention to, but didn’t—earlier in my real estate career. So I thought, “What the heck? I’ll share those, too.”

#6: Not paying attention to your numbers

Unless you’re a CPA or other financial professional, I bet your books aren’t in order. In denial? Then tell me what your true net-net average wholesale fee was, after all, gas, marketing, office supply and equipment, and other expenses were. I’ll wait—if your books are correct and easy to access, it should only take a minute.

Bookkeeping messes just become bigger and bigger messes as your business gets more complex. They’re costing you time, and they’re costing you money at tax time. Get them fixed.

#7: Not designing your business to serve your life, rather than the other way around.

If you’re “in real estate” as a part-time effort to add income to your life or plan for retirement, you can ignore this, because it will probably never become a problem for you.

But if you’re in it full time, or you want to be, please do yourself a favor and put your “why” first.

Too many real estate entrepreneurs become so obsessed with being the biggest, the best, the highest-volume business people they can be that they end up losing track of—and failing to benefit from—the whole reason they wanted to do it in the first place.

WHY did you get into this business? Was it to be rich? Probably not—it was probably to get something that you thought “rich” had to offer. Like being able to spend tons of time with your kids. Or travel the world. Or support some cause in a meaningful way.

If all of your goals and efforts are around the “How” of the real estate business rather than the “why” of the end, it’s easy (and shockingly common) to find yourself with a huge business with an office to support and 10 employees to manage and keep busy, working 60 hours a week, and never seeing that family, or “being able” to take 2 weeks to travel, or getting to a single meeting of that charity or church you love.

I’m not against ambition or working hard. But often, if you really plan with the end in mind, less is often more. It’s better to have a business with you and a VA that grosses $150,000 a year but only takes 30 hours a week of your time and nets $100,000 than one with 10 employees that grosses a million, nets $200,000, and leaves you with zero time or energy to pursue the things you love.

#8: Not creating systems, procedures, and checklists for the operations of your business.

Without them, you can’t accomplish either #5 or #7. If no one except you knows what you do, how does anyone, ever, take over for you? How do you hire that VA to take 20 hours a week of scut work off your plate? And trust me, it’s a lot easier to do as you go along than it is to sit down after you’re already successful and write an entire operations manual. ‘Nuff said.

#9: Not connecting with other investors

I’ve written several articles lately about the importance of networking, live events, and joining (and attending) your local REIA meetings. It never ceases to amaze me, though, how often I talk to more “advanced” investors in my market who are so disconnected by virtue of thinking they’re too busy or too educated to attend these meetings, who have no idea that Ohio passed a law saying X or that bank Y has a great program for investors. They don’t know who’s partnering, who’s lending hard money, or who’s ripped off dozens of local investors.

Every little piece of information you pick up from colleagues, and every resource you don’t have to search to find, and every connection you make that could later turn into a buyer, seller, or partner, is worth a LOT of money. And the only way you get them is to take the time to get and stay connected.

#10 Not making a commitment to continuing education and cross-training

It’s so easy, once your business is chugging along, to decide that you don’t “need” to attend this workshop or that conference or your next association meeting.

And maybe it’s not—until something changes in the market. And it always does.

I can’t tell you how many successful real estate entrepreneurs I’ve seen who’ve lost it all because of a change in the market that made their business unworkable. And not just during the real estate crisis, either.

The problem is, when you get locked into a single way of doing things, you’re super-vulnerable to market conditions that you can’t control. Whether it be massively increasing competition, or new regulations, or changes in lending policies, or simply changes in demand, if you don’t know how to adjust quickly or even completely re-orient your business plan, you won’t have a business.

The workshop you take today on a strategy different than what you’re doing may not be something you’ll implement tomorrow (though I usually find that I take some idea from every class and add it to what I’m already doing), but it may turn out to be a lifesaver later, when the market calls for your business to change.

So what are you thinking? Is it “Yeah, yeah, those are all great ideas and as soon as I get my business going/get it on a better footing/grow it to where I want it to be, I’ll get starting on them for sure?”

Or are you going to do the smart thing, and schedule an hour a week during 2017 to start taking a bite out of these, so it doesn’t get put off until next year, and the year after, and the year after, and the year after?

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