Why do you think most investors get into real estate to begin with? Is it because they like wading through three feet of trash inside of dilapidated junkers? Is it because they savor talking on the phone so much that they found a way to make money doing it? Could it be because they enjoy leaving their families at the dinner table in order to spin tires and get a deed signed by a seller who waited until the night before the auction to finally do something about their problem?
The odds are that if you're anything like me, you don't take on the demands and risks of real estate investing just for the fun of it. The odds are you're doing it for the money. Of course, there are the benefits of helping people and there are those feelings of accomplishment after finishing a rehab or selling a house. But if you're investing primarily for those reasons, go join the Peace Corps, or get a contractor's license, or become a Realtor.
The only reason I can conceive of someone wanting to invest in real estate is for financial gain, which is not an impure motive. Money is what buys us the freedom to do, well, whatever the heck it is we want to do. But what do we end up doing? We end up working like crazy and not doing the things for which we're investing in real estate to begin with.
For example: When I started investing, I decided to try to buy as many houses as I could in order to avoid having a full-time job that consumed all of my time. I planned on spending my time at that point writing music (one of my dreams). Now fast-forward three years. I had become a full-time investor running a fast-paced money machine doing deal after deal every month. Guess how many songs I wrote during those three years? Zero…
Finally, I realized that I had to find a way to get my life back again and create the time to do what would make me happiest in life, rather than filling in the time with more work. I had been using assistants to do some work for me, but decided to start delegating as much as humanly possible. That's when I went from working 40 hours per week on real estate down to three hours per day, and so can you.
The secret, of course, is to get some hired help, which everybody knows they ought to, but few actually do. And even fewer still do it right. Some people try it once, have a bad experience hiring the wrong person, and conclude that “you just can't find anyone good enough”. I think more people never even take the first step and consign themselves to a life full of tedious, bothersome chores.
These are the main excuses for why investors don't get with the program and take control of their lives again by hiring help:
- “I'm not doing enough deals yet.”
Who says you have to be? Hiring an assistant does not have to be a huge deal. You could always find someone early on to put in 2-3 hours per week for you doing simple tasks, like putting up signs, taking calls from buyers, and licking envelopes for your mailers. In fact, getting someone else to send mailers for you (which we both know you would procrastinate doing yourself) will get you more deals than you otherwise would.
- “I don't have the money.”
It's funny that the people who say that they have no money to pay someone $8/hr for a few hours per week somehow manage to come up with thousands of dollars to buy the latest real estate seminar. Paying an assistant is a leap of faith…you pay them for a while, nothing happens immediately, but then before you know it you're finding more deals and have more time and resources to do them. It works. But if you never take that leap, you will just keep puttering along – not doing any or many deals. But at least you're saving a few hundred bucks here and there, right? Sounds great…not.
- “I don't mind doing the work myself.”
I don't mind cooking dinner myself, but I don't want to do it for 10-30 hours per week. Isn't there something you'd rather be doing besides licking envelopes, making phone calls and delivering simple messages, asking the same boring questions to tenant/buyers who call? If nothing else, get someone else to do these things so that you can spend more time doing things that are more productive, like building a real business instead of getting tied down in busy work.
- “I can do it cheaper and better myself.”
Do you rehab houses yourself to save money? If yes, stop reading right now because there's no chance I'll get this point through to you. If no, then you know that it makes sense to pay someone else to do work for you, so why not apply that principle to other types of work besides renovations? You can do an assistant's work yourself, and it will be cheaper so far as less money going out of your pocket. But it's not worth it in the end, because there will be less money going into your pocket as there could be if you freed yourself up to do the things that bring you more deals (or get someone else to do those things). One extra deal would probably pay for your assistant for the next year or two.
- “I don't have time to follow-up with anyone.”
Maybe you don't have the time because you are doing everything yourself. What if it took you 10 minutes to to follow up with someone who would save you 60 minutes of time by doing work for you…would it be worth it? You'd find the time to coordinate with them, wouldn't you? I look at spending time with an assistant like I do spending money on a deal or on marketing – a necessary and very worthwhile investment. You'd be crazy not to. Make the time and you'll have more time.
- “No one else can do it like I can.”
No one else can do what like you can – fold letters? Pick up printer paper at the store? Drop UPS envelopes off in the drop-box? Last time I checked, anyone can do those things. So, if nothing else, find someone to do only the things that would be difficult or impossible to screw up. This will give you at least a few more hours per week to do the specialized work that only you can do. You'll find that once you've done that, you can trust your assistant (provided you hired right) to do other work for you as well, starting with the simplest tasks and working up to more complex things, all according to your level of comfort.
So, how many hours do you work each week, and how many hours do you really want to work? If there's a big difference between these two numbers, hiring help will get you there. Otherwise, things will never get better, no matter how many promises you make to your spouse. Or, if you are happy with the hours you're working, ask yourself, “How much more could I get done if there were another me getting at least 50% more done than I am now by myself?” In this case, an assistant is also the answer to getting what you want.
I have consulted with hundreds of investors over several years, and our challenges tend to be exactly the same. I have heard many, many investors (ranging from newbies to pros doing 3-5 deals/month or more) complaining about the same things:
“I wish I had more time.”
“I wish I could get more done.”
“I wish I could have some fun for a change rather than being a slave to my real estate business.”
The solution is always the same, and every investor who discovers this wonders how they ever survived as long as they did without it. Just hire some help. Find the right person, and put them to work immediately. Don't put it off any longer. Do it now, and you'll thank yourself for the rest of your life.