7 Deadly Mistakes You Can Avoid – Part 1Posted on June 27, 2013 by
Over the last 23+ years, I’ve known many investors and entrepreneurs. I’ve seen every possible scenario, from overnight success to plodding, sit-on-your-butt-and-do-nothing failure. I’ve known people who would get off to a great start, and then fade away, and some who would piddle around and never seem to get anywhere. I’ve known those who made a very successful living and even a few who became super wealthy.
Is there a magic formula for success? I wish I could tell you there was. It could have saved me a whole lot of headaches over the years. And having the copyright on that formula would have made me an awful lot of money. Unfortunately, there’s no more magic in being successful than there is in anything else worthwhile in life.
However, from years of experiencing my own successes and failures, as well as witnessing those of others, I have identified a few mistakes that can short-circuit an entrepreneur’s rise to fortune. I’ve compiled a list of the most common roadblocks you’ll face on the road to becoming a successful real estate entrepreneur.
Now, you may be one of the fortunate few, and never find yourself faced with any of these problems, and that’s great. More likely, you’ll recognize parallels in your own situation in what I’m about to discuss. My goal here is to put you in a position where you can identify these pitfalls. Then, when you encounter them (and you will), you’ll be armed with the ability to direct yourself around them and get back on track . . . immediately. You won’t have to worry about these things hindering you from achieving your goals. So, let’s dive in and go down the list.
Lack of focus. I define focus as concentrating only on the work you must do to succeed in your business, avoiding all distractions and not getting side-tracked by every “great idea” that pops up. It’s not easy. The world we live in today is filled with things that beg for our attention. We live in what’s being called the “Information Age”, and that’s great except all this bombardment of information makes it hard for most of us to sift through the junk and come up with the good stuff. That’s why most of us have a problem staying focused – even when we’re trying to concentrate on something we know will make us wealthy. There are a million ways to make a million bucks and every day a new avenue for riches is presented to us. But I’ve learned through trial and error (lots of error) that the only way to make something work is to filter out everything else and stick with what I know works.
I get frustrated when I see people with tremendous potential for this business get off track with a so-called “get-rich quick” scheme (and there are a lot of them – just watch a little late-night television). If you dabble in one business, jump to another then try something else completely different, you’re not likely to be successful at any of it. Focus takes work, determination and discipline. Sometimes it hurts. Like when you have to say no to your family so you can go out and make them five or ten thousand dollars when you could be watching Seinfeld re-runs at home. Believe me, when your increased income starts showing up in trips to Disney World, new clothes, cars, etc., your spouse and kids won’t have a problem with it.
Getting into the rental business before your cash-flow needs are met. Boy, did I ever get tangled up in this one. When I first got started with real estate, I decided to buy all the rental property I could. I figured with a lot of tenants in a lot of houses, the cash would just fall into my lap every month, right?
Wrong. It was the biggest single mistake I made for a very simple reason – I just wasn’t ready. Like yours truly, many beginning real estate investors get into the rental business because they think it’s some kind of quick path to wealth. But it’s not. It’s slow and long-term. Soon after I built my “rental empire” back in 1982, I discovered that my daily cash flow needs were not being met. I had a huge amount of capital tied up in equity and a thin stream of income. And I had a family to feed!
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against rental property as an investment. I’ll probably have them until the day I die. However, if you don’t have a cash cushion built up, you’d better get really good at buying properties dirt cheap. But even when you do, you’ll discover a million ways to spend down your cash flow.
Busted toilets, leaky roofs, paint, carpet, yada-yada-yada, it all eats great big holes in your income stream. Even if you do have enough ready cash to get into the rental game, you need to know what you’re doing. For instance, do you know about “professional tenants” who make a living “getting over” on landlords? These creeps know the landlord tenant code and eviction laws inside out and they can make your life a living hell before you finally get them out of your house. If you want to become a professional landlord, you’d better understand how the game is played and get the education necessary to deal with all the potential problems.
Bottom line, my advice is this: Make some fast cash by quick-turning a few houses before you get yourself mired down with rentals. Get into some low risk, high-return deals before you start piling up equity and dealing with tenants. Then, when you do become a “Super Landlord,” your chances of retiring on your rental income will be much better.
Well, I see I’ve ran out of space, so I’ll continue this list of roadblocks in your next issue. Don’t miss it. I’m just gettin’ warmed up.