In the real estate business, you have to have a firm foundation – literally. If your property has a cracked foundation, you will likely take serious losses as you deal with shifting floors, instability, falling property values, and banks are less interested in lending you money. Just as a bad foundation is a huge, sometimes hidden pitfall in a physical property, it also represents a hidden threat to building your real estate investing business. No matter what type of business you run, there are certain foundational principles that you must follow if you want to be more than a real estate investor and instead be a real estate investing business. Think about a commercial construction site. You drive by it every day and sure, there is movement. Machines come and go. Workers walk around. Maybe some dirt moves, but for the most part it looks like nothing is happening. Nothing really changes for months or, in some cases, years! Then, one day, the entire thing goes up in moments. What were they doing for all that time? Creating a secure foundation.
Ask Yourself this Question: Why am I in the Real Estate Business?
The answers are basically the same for most people:
- Creating long-term wealth via tax reduction and long-term income
- Creating short-term wealth via flipping or wholesaling
- Tax advantages
- Self-Employment and/or company building
- Changing the world
Understand Your “Why”
Once you have answered this question for yourself, ask yourself a few follow-up questions. The goal is to better understand your “Why” for yourself and then establish your real estate business’ foundation, clarity, and direction toward your goals.
- Why do I want to have the things I listed above?
- What do I personally want to accomplish in business and/or life?
- How does real estate play into it all?
These answers are your compass for your business and this will move you toward your goal and stability in your personal and business foundation. Once you have this, you now have a foundation to build your marketing and brand around.
Your brand tells the story of who you are, what you do, and why you do it. If you have a clear, pervasive brand, you will find that instead of having to bring people into your business and convince them to work with you, they will instead look at your business and figure out where they fit into your business based on your brand. This extends from your motivated seller leads all the way to your tenants, buyers, and business partners. When people are attracted to your business, your business begins to grow faster with less work. Part of effective branding may involve owning a category of real estate investing, possibly in a specific geographic area. For example, if you are a wholesaler, then you might want to be known as the wholesaler for one particular market or city.
Here’s what I mean by owning a category:
- Who do you think of when I ask who “owns” coffee? Probably Starbucks.
- How about French fries? Probably McDonald’s.
- Who dominates the concept of search engines? It’s got to be Google.
Why does nearly everyone have the same answers for these questions?
Because the company in the answer “owns” that category and are very precision on what they do and do well. They have created the perception that they are the best and/or only route for people looking for their category of product or service, and they have carefully built a solid reputation around that product or service. Furthermore, there clarity in branding helps them to dominate public perception of the category so that their company is the first one you think of when you think of that category. So how do you accomplish this with your real estate investing business? First, think about who you want to be (in terms of real estate), where you are located physically, and what products or services you provide. Do not try to be all things to all people.
Q: What if you have several real estate businesses that tie into each other but are separate? For example, you are an agent, an educator, and an investor.
A: This is a tough question, and there is no one right answer. If you want to keep all of these things together, you will need to drive people to you as a person and brand yourself, then subtitle the things you do and offer after they have been attracted to you. If this solution does not work for you, personally, (and not everyone can make this work), then you will need to separate everything and give each business a distinct message.
Market, Brand, Action
Once you’ve decided what message you want to convey, start conveying it in every environment in which you work. This definitely means investing in a good logo and, subsequently, some memorable business cards. Depending on the type of real estate you do, you might want to purchase yard signs as well. Put that logo, your website, and your phone number on those signs and get them out there so that everyone who drives by that sign knows what you do and how to reach you!
When you are working on these signs and graphics, be willing to accept some help and even pay for it. If you are not creative, find someone who is and give them lots of examples of things you like. Finally, be patient and deliberate. Lots of real estate investors get extremely excited about getting started investing and they fail to build a firm foundation under their business. Take a moment to identify and communicate your why, and you will find that it is very easy to build your investing business.
This article appeared in Think Realty Magazine’s Year End 2017 edition.