1/4/15: Nine Steps to Jump Start Your Real Estate Investing Career

9 Steps For Learning How To Get Started In Real Estate Investing 

Learning how to get started in real estate or any new skill is a bit like being on a football team. At the end of each football season, teams and coaches do this…and then they begin preparing for the next season.

A big part of that preparation is focusing on essential fundamentals.  These aren’t just blocking, tackling, throwing, catching, etc.

Football teams also evaluate their strategic plan…including personnel, offensive and defensive strategies…even marketing and public relations.

So at the start of this new year, whether you’re just figuring out how to get started in real estate investing, starting over or wanting to jump start to the next level, we have 9 fundamentals every real estate investor can focus on to make 2015 their best year ever.

Sitting at the starting gate ready to put the pedal to the metal and our mouths to the microphone:

  • The Speed Racer of Speech, host Robert Helms
  • The Chim Chim of Chat, co-host Russell Gray
  • The Pops Racer of Pontification and Godfather of Real Estate, Bob Helms

Everyone wants to get rich quick.  That’s why it’s such a popular topic on late night TV infomercials.  The only thing more popular is get thin fast.

In both cases, the true secret is simple… do the right things the right way in the right order long enough to achieve your goal.

Or as we say it, Vision + Knowledge + Discipline = Effective Action.

Vision is what YOU want.  Knowledge is knowing HOW to get there.  Discipline is the resolve and tenacity to DO what you know and not quit until the job gets done.

So with that foundation, let’s take a look at our 9 steps that are good for how to get started in real estate or take your investing to the next level:

1.  Decide Who YOU Are

Do you want to be a hands-on, jack of all trades, do-it-yourself real estate investor…buzzing around your local market making deals, rehabbing properties and managing tenants?

Is it a full time job…or something you want to do on top of your full time job?

Do you want to focus on working at whatever you’re already doing to make money and taking your savings and putting it to work through other people like your real estate brokers, property managers and fund managers?  This is the way most people invest in the stock market.

OR…do you want to go big and raise money from other savers, and spend your time watching macro-trends, analyzing markets, working with your advisors, making deals and overseeing your team?

They’re all valid. Just VERY different in terms of how you spend your time, who you work with, and what you need to know.

To get started, you might start in a specific niche like brokerage, property management, contracting, finance, or fund raising.

You also might start by working or volunteering with someone else, or simply investing your own money with someone else in exchange for the experience.

And don’t be afraid to get it “wrong”.  You can always change later.  But you can’t be all things to all people all the time.  And you can’t do everything all at once.  So CHOOSE.

2.  Take Inventory

Many businesses end each year by taking inventory of everything they have, so they can start the new year from a defined starting point…and they know what they have to work with.  Ditto for sports teams.

What do YOU have in terms of time, skills, relationships, cash, credit, cash-flow and equity?

What and who do you have ready access to in terms of people with time, skills, relationships, cash, credit, cash-flow and equity?

Make a list and figure out what resources are at your disposal right now, so you have a clearly defined starting point.

3.  Pick a General Direction (Vision) and Start Moving

We’re big fans of planning.  But planning is an iterative process.

First, you PLAN….then you DO…then you REVIEW.

Then you take what you learned in the review to adjust your plan, and you repeat the cycle OVER and OVER and OVER.

The problem with planning is it’s a safe place to get excited.  It’s all hope and opportunity.  Every play goes for a touchdown…on the chalkboard.

But in any business, momentum is essential. And the only way to get it is to get moving. So once you have a basic plan and general direction, you’re ready to start.  Get moving.

4.  Create an Identity

In step 1, you decided who you are.  So now you know.  But no one else does.

So it’s important to create an outward persona for your business that you can present to the world.

A business name, a title, a phone, address, website… it’s cheap, easy and fast. Keep it simple.

When you meet people, they will want to look you up online.  Clean up anything messy that’s out there, and build something that presents you more like the person you’re becoming.

Be careful not to stretch the truth beyond credibility. Showing yourself in the best light (spin) is much different than fabricating experience, credentials, resume etc.  Don’t lie.

And before we leave this one, consider this: how many times have you seen mega-corporations reinvent their brand?  A new logo, a new slogan, a new mission, etc.

The point is that even established businesses strategically decide to reinvent their identities in order to be more effective in the market place.

5. Get Out There

Today, “out there” has dual meaning…but it all comes back to networking.

Online, it’s called Social Media networking… Facebook, Linked In, a website.  Make it easy for people to find you, share you, and bring you opportunities.

Go to lots of meetings, seminars, conferences.  Learn the lingo.  Find the players.  Look for role models and advisors.

Your team and associations are part of your “brand”.  People will judge you (right or wrong) not only by how you look and act, but by who you associate with.

6. Lead With Value

Give more than you get. Look for problems and solutions and then connect the two. Be patient. Sew good will.

The more you help people, the more they will help you.

And every person’s problem is an opportunity for someone else…maybe someone who has something or knows someone that YOU want to know.  You can actually trade in problems and solutions.

This is REALLY important if you’re starting with very little money.  If you have tons of money, deals will find you.  If you have tons of money, you might not need to win friends and advisors, you can buy them.

If your financial resources are small, your relationship resources need to be BIG.

Always remember: it’s easier to make friends than money, and it’s easier to make money with friends.

7. Become an Expert

Pick something to become super smart about.  Not EVERY thing.  Just SOME thing.

It could be a marketplace, a neighborhood, a product type, an investment strategy, a marketing technique for finding deals or raising money, credit repair, deal negotiation, construction…something.

Pick something that interests you, that you’re naturally good at, and that can be directly applied to adding value to other people.

Hint: There’s two things that really matter in real estate investing. Deals and money (cash, credit, cash flow, and collateral)

Notice that you don’t become an expert BEFORE you Get Out There or Lead with Value. Expertise will come.

Get out there.  Add value.  NOW.

8. Help a Successful Person

Now you’re starting to build resources. You have a network of people who know, like you and are beginning to trust you.

You have a growing expertise that can be used to help other people. You’ve developed into a more valuable commodity in the marketplace.

Now, go find someone who is doing what you want to be doing, connected to who you want to know, or knows how to do something you want to learn, or has access to deals and/or funding you want to get closer to…

Then study them and see if there any way your expertise can be applied to helping them get what they want.  This is your ticket into the relationship.

Referring someone else isn’t good enough. Unless your value add is you hustle up other experts. Otherwise, your expertise needs to enhance their business.

It’s like looking for a job without the paycheck.

Does that mean you work for free?

No. It means you work for something other than money.

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS remember and NEVER EVER forget…

It’s about relationships.

If you’re like most people, you want to know how to do everything. You think knowledge is power. And the more knowledge you have, the more powerful you are.

Yes and no.

If it was all about tactical know how, then lawyers, real estate agents, loan brokers, CPAs, would all be the richest. But they aren’t. That’s why they work for guys like you.

Tactical knowledge is MISSION CRITICAL.  But YOU don’t have to have it…at least not all of if.

You just need to have a good relationship with people who do.

So while you’re expert in 1 or 2 things, and you use that expertise to build strategic relationship, the knowledge junkies will study and study and study all about how to do every little thing…trying to be expert in 20 different disciplines, not being great at any, and having no time for relationships, strategic thinking or uncovering rare opportunities.

Don’t be Mr. Know-it-All.  Be Mr. Known (and liked) by All (or at least as many of the right people as possible).

9. Learn by Doing

The best way to learn how to get started in real estate is by doing.

When you get into a real life situation, it forces you to focus and follow through.

If you get over your head and have no relationships…you’re screwed. All you can do is hire expensive help…most of whom have never really done what you’re trying to do.

But if you have patiently laid a foundation of relationships with the right people, then when you get in over your head, you call your friends for advice.

YOU must be willing to ask for help. YOU have to be someone other people want to help.

When you are learning how to get started in real estate, the next best way to learn is to attend live events. Podcasts, videos, webinar and books are all great…and you should be consuming all of that. But not for the reasons you think and not all by yourself if you can help it.

You consume online content to stimulate your creativity, learn the jargon, get ideas you can use in conversations with people you want to build a relationship with. You learn so you can share knowledge…not hoard it.

Live events are best because they force you to focus and interact with other people.

Expensive events, as soon as you can afford them, are better than cheap events. Cheap people are at cheap events. Expensive people are at expensive events. Who do you want in YOUR network?

Live events let you study people in action…how they present themselves, how they interact with others.

Go to all the networking. Stay late. Mingle. If you’re shy, make one friend. Just make sure that one friend is social!

Shadow programs are great. If someone will let you ride around for a day or two or five, do it. If you have to pay, give it serious consideration. Maybe you can barter.

Imagine trying to learn to walk, talk and ride a bike locked in your room as a kid.  You learned by going out and playing.

The complicated stuff like throwing a ball or riding a bike, you had a teacher…a mentor…who not only showed you what to do, they protected you from serious danger, while encouraging you through the awkward progression of learning the skill.

Becoming a real estate investor is NO different.

Imagine if you approached learning to ride a bicycle the way some people approach learning to invest…

You study physics, mechanical engineering, bio-mechanics.  You learn about risk mitigation like bandaging, treating abrasions, setting broken bones. You read the bicycle manual over and over.

Have you seen some of the successful real estate investors out there? Some of them can hardly spell.  There are people driving cars every day who have no idea how to change the oil.

The secret to getting started in real estate investing…or anything else…is to get started.

And you start with getting to know YOU, what you have, want and need.

Then you go where like-minded people are (online or real world) and find out what they have, want and need. Then you make friends and help each other.

And when you have money, you’ll have more and better friends, you’ll do more expensive things together, but the basic formula is the same.

Build your brand (how people feel when they think of you) and your network (how many people you know), and be obsessed about adding genuine value to the world strategically…being careful to associate with people who are doing the same.

Do this for at least a year…and DON’T LET UP.  You’ll be AMAZED  at what happens.

 

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Are your social-networking habits effecting your borrowing power?

Unless you’re Donald Trump, you probably need third-party money to close some deals.

As real estate investors, we want to make the most of our borrowing power.  But is it possible your social media habits will effect your next loan?

Yes, it is possible.

Rumor has it banks and lenders are gathering intelligence through social media and how they intend to use this information is debatable. Let’s take a deeper look at what is being collected, how it may be used and what you should do about it.

Banks and lenders have always assembled data to determine one’s ability to pay. Traditionally the sources have been credit reports, pay stubs, previous years taxes, bank statements, co-signers and so forth. Now, one’s “social-graph” (online relationships and habits) may have an impact on a lender’s willingness to extend credit.

Does your social media presence reflect financial distress? Do you have friends who are in distress? Are you changing jobs? Moving back home? Buying a new car? Planning a wedding? Taking a dream vacation? Getting divorced?

Your financial situation is greatly reflected in how you live your life. Nowadays, people are sharing their life stories through social media, which is creating a more connected world.  But it’s also offering financial institutions (not to mention employers and business associates) a whole new world of insights into things that may not improve your chances of getting that great loan or employment offer.

For legal reasons, the likelihood of an individual’s social sentiment dictating borrowing power is slim. However, word on the street is that banks and lenders will use this information to better direct their marketing efforts. Those with higher social rankings, within their internal system, will get better offerings than those with less favorable profiles.

We have limited this to just banks and lenders; however, this same approach could certainly be applied by potential business partners looking to finance one of your deals. Obviously, as real estate investors, we want the best offerings and here are some tips to preserve your social sentiment.

  • Have secure privacy settings
  • Be conscience of what you post and how it could be interpreted
  • Understand that you are trackable in the digital community
  • If you are not paying for a service, then you (that is, your information) are the product

Social media has created a small-town world and allowed meaningful relationships to develop virtually. This is a powerful thing, which means there is potential for both good and evil – so be conscious of how you use and participate in social media.

Remember, EVERYTHING you put on the internet has the potential to be seen by ANYONE and can live FOREVER.  As an investor and entrepreneur, it’s essential to be diligent in building and protecting your personal and professional public appearance.  Make sure what you’re putting out there consistently presents the public image most advantageous to your investing and business goals.

Staci Davidson is a social media strategist, coach and consultant.  For more information, visit www.stacidavidson.com.