The Goddess Blog: “How much am I willing to give up to do these things, and where am I going to absolutely draw the line?”
Planning for a Successful 2017
We’re heading into the holidays, and then into that week between Christmas and New Year’s Day when most of us make New Year’s Resolutions. You know, like:
“This year, I’m going to lose 20 pounds”
“This year, I’m going to finally finish rehabbing my bathroom”
“This year, I’m going to buy/wholesale a property a month”
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is, of course, that they’re a statement of determination with no real plan behind them. HOW are you going to lose 20 pounds? Well, by eating less and exercising more, of course. But how much less? How are you going to track that? How are you going to stick with it when you’re hungry, or on the road, or upset? What’s the day to day plan, exactly?
And what’s your exact, written plan for making more money in real estate?
Creation of that plan, while crucial, is not actually the topic of this lesson, because that’s been covered ad nauseum in so many home study courses and books that I don’t need to remind you AGAIN about how many offers you need to make, how many cash buyers you need to contact, etc. Instead, I’m going to do you the huge favor of adding some MORE things to your list—goals you might not have thought to set.
Goal #1: Cut your to do list by at least 30%. I don’t care whether you’re a newbie or an old pro, you have things on your real estate to do list that just shouldn’t be.
Some of these things are plans or activities that just don’t add that much to the bottom line, whether they’re done or not. If you’ve had “design a business card” on your list for the past 6 months and it’s never gotten done, ask yourself this: have you lost a deal because of it? If not—and you haven’t, by the way—then just spend 10 minutes on vistaprint.com, throw together something, and be done with it. If you’re spending 2 hours a week handing bandit signs and haven’t gotten a single deal yet, stop and spend that time on something that’s generating calls for you. If you compulsively listen to every webinar that shows up in your inbox, and all they’re doing is confusing you and making you lose your focus, stop.
Some plans and activities, though, either HAVE to be done, or would actually put money in your bank account if you could get them completed. These things usually fall into the category of “repetitive but necessary” (like running comps or talking to sellers or sending out marketing or getting mailing lists off the web) although some might be one-time but time consuming FOR YOU because you don’t have the skills to do them quickly (like creating a website or a logo).
Tasks that are done basically the same way over and over, and are done via the internet, should be systemized and assigned to a low-cost virtual assistant. Write down, step by step, what you do to go online and get probate filings. Go to Odesk.com and post a job for a VA. Hire one at $2-$3/hour to spend the hour a day YOU’RE spending (or should be spending) doing this, and the 3 hours total it took you to create the system and hire the VA saves you 5 hours a week forever.
Ditto website creation. For under $10 an hour, a VA who already understands how to code, or set up a wordpress page, or whatever, can have it done in a matter of days. Ditto logo design.
Look at what you do, or what you need to do, and figure out what can be done incredibly cheaply by someone else, if you think like a business owner and not like a self-employed person. Make it a goal to get at least one of these things off your plate every week in 2017. Other examples include:
- Setting up your social media accounts on linkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube
- Answering your phone while you’re at work and doing the seller interviews or telling potential tenants about your properties
- Making sure your ads are reposted in craigslist daily
- Updating your website
- Finding cash buyers via your county’s property transfer log
- De-duping spreadsheets
- Creating fillable .pdf contracts and forms
- Creating flyers for your wholesale, retail, or rental deals
And there are dozens of others.
And don’t fill the time you’ve saved with more below-your-paygrade work; use it to find more deals, or find more buyers, or raise money!
Goal #2: PLAN your education and networking. What do you need to know that you don’t know right now? WHO do you need to know that you don’t know right now? Are you going to hope to stumble across this information and these people, or are you going to actively go out and find them?
Although we all spend time and money on education and networking, we tend to do it sort of on a whim. A convincing speaker comes to our REIA group, and we find ourselves booking a flight to California to go to a bootcamp we never heard of before today.
A better way to make sure we get what we need, both in terms of knowledge and of connections, is to understand what we want to know more about, and what kind of people we want to know more of, and figure out the best way to get this information and these introductions.
Figure out HOW, exactly? By getting recommendations from real people, not from sales pitches or youtube testimonials. If you want to know more about how to legally raise money, why not ask people in your real estate group who has the best course/class/system for raising money? Or join one of the many online forums (biggerpockets.com, realtyjoin.com etc) and get information from people who’ve actually taken those classes?
And PLEASE, plan to network with people you haven’t met before. Go to conferences and other gatherings that are directly or tangentially related to your business. Although I’m the world’s worst networker, I constantly find myself drawing on the knowledge and expertise of people I’ve met at these events, and getting seemingly intractable problems solved quickly and easily as a result.
Just last week, I was dealing with a problem with the setup of a new fund. One of the things this fund will do is buy properties very, very cheaply and sell them on land contract at 200%-400% markups. The problem with this strategy is that it potentially creates huge tax liabilities for the investors, due to a stupid tax rule that I won’t go into right now. My partner and I were certain that other companies that did this weren’t paying these taxes, but we didn’t know how they were managing it. So I called 2 people, one of whom I originally met at an OREIA conference, and one that I met a notebuyer’s conference this year. They told me what I needed to do, and directed me to a service provider whose cellphone number I happened to have because I met HIM at OREIA as well. Not only was the problem neatly solved, the service provider even offered me a deep discount on his services, because he knew me and knew that I talk to people at events all the time and that I could bring him lots of future business.
Goal #3: Design your business to serve your life. We all have our real estate goals and our “real” goals—that is, the things we got into real estate FOR. The question is, are you putting the real goals on hold until the real estate thing gives you the time and money to reach them? If you are, you might be on a path to having a life that serves your business, not the other way around.
What are the 3 things that are really most important to you? If it’s your health, your family, and your favorite cause, but your real estate business and goals are taking up every spare moment of your life in 2017, so that you have no time to work out, hang with the kids, or volunteer, there’s a problem.
So the very first thing to think about when setting your 2017 REAL ESTATE goals is, “How much am I willing to give up to do these things, and where am I going to absolutely draw the line?” Because one thing I can tell you from both personal experience and watching others over the years is that there are more things to be done in your real estate ventures, and more goals to be reached and more mountains to be climbed than there is time in your life. Your real estate business can consume you, and your pursuit of success can take up all the time you’ll allow it.
Yes, there is sacrifice involved, particularly in the start up phase of a real estate career. And there are times when your business will, by necessity, call you away from things you’d rather be doing. But make it one of your goals in 2017 that you will NOT give up the things that are really important to you—that you’ll balance your real estate endeavors with the things that those endeavors were meant to support for you.