Back in 2010, I started a small gym offering group fitness workouts. I had shifted the focus of my time to marketing and running this new business. This is why I haven’t been active in the real estate world. This is also why I haven’t been writing and updating this site.
This small gym kept me busy for the last few years as I built the gym membership and hired the trainers and staff. The business was a lot of fun to build and I met some awesome people. However, I realized to really build the gym business to generate higher levels of income, I would have to open up additional locations. This obviously meant signing new long-term leases, building out and equipping each new location. It also meant hiring more trainers and staff.
But I held off on taking the business to the next level because I realized I didn’t want to build another big business. I didn’t want to have to sign long-term leases. I didn’t want to have to hire, fire, and train staff. I didn’t want to have to work 7 days a week for years. Been there, done that. I’m simply not as “hungry” for money as I once was and decided the tradeoff between my time and the financial opportunity wasn’t worth it at this point in my life.
To build a big business you have to take many risks. One risk is obviously financial. You’ve got to put more money on the line and agree to long-term financial commitments. In addition, you have the risk of relationship loss. This “relationship loss” is two-fold. One relationship loss is time with your family as you put more hours into building the big business. The other relationship loss is what you have to go through in the business as you hire and fire staff.
The path to the big business was easy to see, but I just wouldn’t pull the trigger. I simply didn’t want all of the headaches. When I was younger, I wouldn’t “see” the future headaches. I would only see the opportunities and quickly set of in pursuit. However, experience has changed this impatience as I now realize there are many challenges to building a big business. And at this point in my life, I’m not willing to deal with the headaches for more money.
Once I realized I wasn’t willing to expand the gym business, it became clear that I should probably sell the gym allowing someone else to pursue the opportunities I wasn’t willing to pursue. It didn’t seem to make sense keeping the business if I didn’t plan on growing it. Gyms are 7 day a week businesses and they are packed full of drama. (Oh the drama!)
So I sold the gym to two of our trainers this year and am getting back into real estate. However, I still don’t have any plans to build a big real estate business. I don’t have any plans to hire agents. I don’t have any plans to hire any administrative staff. And I also don’t have any plans to sell hundreds of homes each year as I did in the past. I simply am going to sell a few homes a month on my own and have fun.
It’s awesome. I couldn’t be any happier. For the first time in 15 years, I don’t have any employees. Not a one! All of the drama of building a business is gone and life is soooo peaceful. There is no one to hire. There is no one train. There is no one to manage. There is no one to fire. There is also no stress whatsoever.
Starting back in real estate as a one person operation is simply fantastic. I don’t have an office. I don’t have a lease. I don’t have a fancy copier and there aren’t any real expenses other than continuing education, dues, and errors and omissions insurance. These expenses are all covered through just one home sale.
Selling homes as a one person “non-business” is one of the best opportunities available. It is the perfect lifestyle business. This realization makes me laugh considering my journey. It reminds me of this story…
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
For the first decade of real estate, I thought the only road to success was to build a big business selling 20 to 30 homes a month. A big business with more agents, more clients, more leads, more staff, and more sales. I would routinely sit down and think strategically about more. Here are some of the things I would try and maximize each and every year:
How can I make more money each month?
How can I make my business worth more?
How can I get more customers for my business?
How can I sell more to each customer?
How can I get more sales people working in my business?
How can I acquire more rental real estate?
How can I generate more passive income?
How can I add more zeros to my net worth?
Each question asks a slightly different question, but the ultimate goal is the same.
More, more, more!
The answer, or solution, to each question almost always requires us to work more and to take on more financial risk. Wanting “more” is an ugly snowball building over time. As you have more income, you spend more money each month. Because you now spend more money, you’ll need to make even more money next year. More always breeds more.
For some reason, more never is enough.