Ever go in a restaurant and see a framed dollar bill on the wall?
That’s the first dollar they ever got from a customer who was buying whatever they were selling. After all the years of dreaming and months of planning, they finally opened their doors one day and someone actually came in and gave them money! That first dollar was so precious to them that they framed it and hung it on the wall for everyone to see, to remind them of where they started.
You can’t frame it and hang it on your wall, but I’ll bet that you’re just as proud of the first investment property you bought. You read my books, you listened to my tapes and watched my videos, you trekked across the country to attend my seminars and conventions. You prepared in every way you knew how – and then you did it. You bought something, some beat -up run-down duplex or four-plex, and you cleaned it, painted it, jazzed it up, just like I taught you. You found some tenants and you’ve got positive cash flow coming in every month. You’re following my plan to the letter, crossing every ‘T’, dotting every ‘I’. You’re on your way and you couldn’t be more excited.
But what about when you have five properties, or 10, or 25? You probably won’t be as fired up about each of them as you were about your first. That’s ok – it’s natural. If you’re a parent, think of it this way – you don’t love your second, third or fourth child any less than you do the first. Maybe you didn’t take as many pictures or save locks of their hair – but that doesn’t mean they’re any less special or precious.
I know from experience that if you apply my system, you can make money in any city or town in the country. You can reach whatever goals you set for yourself, and more. But here’s something else I know – it will only work if you treat each property, each deal, with as much care and thought as you did your first.
I always tell people to look at real estate at its smallest point – the single property. Hey, I own hundreds of properties, of every size, shape and style. But I give each of them the same attention. Some may contribute more cash flow than others, but each of them has a role to play in my success.
I teach my students to buy one cash flow property a month until they reach financial independence – something most people can do in under a year. After that, most people keep buying – because as they achieve their first goals, they set new ones.
But along the way, you’ve got to balance your attention between the properties you already have, and your plans to accumulate more. If you focus all your attention on new deals and don’t keep up with repairs, maintenance and management of your existing properties, your cash flow will dry up. If you focus all your attention on your existing properties and don’t pursue new deals, your business won’t grow.
As you get more and more properties, and your monthly cash flow increases, it’s also easy to let little things go. Maybe you stop setting aside money for repairs and vacancy. Maybe you let a tenant slide on the rent one month, or stop charging the late fee. There’s enough money coming in to pay the bills, right? Nothing bad has happened yet. It’s not a big deal.
But think back to our restaurant example. Most small businesses, the kind that hang their first dollar on the wall, don’t succeed in the long run. There are lots of reasons why – but certainly one is because they didn’t treat every dollar they earned with the same reverence they gave to the first one. A lot of those dollars find their way into employees’ pockets. Some pay for waste. Some might end up in a bar or at a racetrack. Some just get lost along the way.
The point is, every dollar – and every property – matters. When you just have one dollar – or one property – you treasure it. When you’ve got a lot of them, it’s easy to lose sight of how you got there. If you treat every dollar, and every property, like it’s the only one you have, you’ll have more of them both.
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