quick start action guide

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The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. ~ Lao Tzu

When you think about everything involved with starting a new business, it’s easy to feel a sense of overwhelm.

There are A LOT of moving pieces to keep track of, and when you come to terms with how complex the process is, it’s no wonder why most people give up before they ever turn a profit.

Starting a real estate investing business is no different.

I still remember my first year vividly. I encountered TONS of questions, obstacles and head-scratching moments that left me feeling lost and confused.

The first 12 months of any business are crucial for an entrepreneur. A lot of important things happen during this window of time – things that will ultimately determine the fate of the new enterprise, and whether it will blossom into a smashing success story, or die a quick death before it ever gets off the ground.

I want to increase your chances of success. Rather than spending your first several months perplexed about what you should be doing, this “quick start” action guide will help you connect the dots and set up your real estate business infrastructure the right way, from the very beginning.

By getting yourself properly established from the outset – you’ll be locked, loaded, and ready to do your first deal.

1. Understand Your “Why”

Let’s be honest. Why are you in this business? What’s your real motivation?

  • To retire early?
  • To inject huge amounts of cash into your bank account?
  • To pay for your kid’s college?
  • To build streams of passive income?
  • To generate extra spending cash?
  • To get your time back?
  • To spend more time with your friends and family?
  • To finance your favorite hobby?
  • To fund your dream vacation?
  • To give to charity or support your favorite non-profit?

There is no wrong answer – but whatever your answer is, you need to be very clear about it, so you’re fully aware of why you’re doing all this work in the first place.

Why is this important? Because there will inevitably come a time when you feel like giving up.

Running a business isn’t easy. Everyone struggles, and if you can’t constantly remember your WHY – it will be much harder to pick yourself back up when the going gets tough.

It’s not enough to simply know what you’re doing, you need to know WHY you’re doing it… so before you take one more step, take a few minutes and ask yourself,

“Why am I doing this?”

Think carefully about your answer. If your reason isn’t strong enough to carry you through the trials that lie ahead – you may need to re-examine your motivations.

2. Get A Mailbox

If your real estate investing business is anything like mine, direct mail will be a crucial component of your marketing efforts.

Especially when you’re getting started, there is no faster and more effective way to find motivated sellers and make them aware of your offer to purchase their property.

When you’re sending out thousands of letters or postcards, it’s important that you establish a solid “home base” for your business.

What is your company’s physical mailing address? How can people get a hold of you? What should you use for the return address on the mail you send out?

I can tell you right now – it shouldn’t be the same place you live and sleep at night.

You’ll come across plenty of strange characters when you’re sending out mail to every segment of society, and it’s not the best practice to let everyone know where they can find you at all hours of the day.

Instead of using your home address – rent a mailbox. Renting a mailbox is relatively cheap, and the value is worth FAR more than the cost.

I rent my mailbox from a storefront called Pakmail, but there are all kinds of options to choose from (The UPS Store or even the US Post Office are two other well-known alternatives).

If you want to take this kind of remote mailbox to the next level, you could even go with a “virtual mailbox” service like Traveling Mailbox (be sure to check out this awesome review that shows exactly how it works). With services like these, you can get everything scanned to you electronically without ever leaving your computer – you can even check your physical mailbox from your phone!

Cool Trick: When you use one of these rent-a-mailbox services, you can refer to your mailbox as a “Suite”, “Unit” or “Apt”, as long as you include the number of your mailbox (this will make you look WAY more legit).

Make sure you’ve got your business mailing address established from day one. It’s a small investment, and it will solve a lot of issues from the very beginning.

3. Set Up Your Phone System

For the same reason you don’t want to give out your home address to thousands of strangers, it’s a good idea to set up a dedicated phone number for your business.

This doesn’t necessarily have to cost anything. If you’re willing to live with some minor limitations, Google Voice can be a great way to knock this out quickly.

If you want to set up extensions and/or use a longer, automated voicemail greeting to screen your callers (like I do), a paid system like RingCentral or FreedomVoice may be a better fit.

I’ve been using RingCentral for years now. It’s not perfect, and there are plenty of other solid choices out there, but I’ll explain why I like it in this video…

Whatever you decide to do, DON’T put your personal/home/cell number on all of your business cards, letterhead, website and mail you send out. The last thing you want is to have your personal line ringing off the hook during all hours of the day.

With a dedicated business phone number, you’ll be much more effective at managing your time and lines of communication.

4. Create Your Website

I currently have 3 websites at work in my real estate business, and they work wonders.

Websites are great at building credibility, providing helpful information, collecting data and selling while you sleep (among other things).

If I didn’t have a few solid websites working for me around the clock, I would probably go insane – and I’d be a lot less effective at processing leads, building my list and getting properties sold.

While it is possible to survive without a website, you’ll end up working A LOT harder than you need to if you don’t set up this kind of sales and automation tool.

If you’re starting from scratch, the first and most functional type of website I would recommend is a buying website.

Don’t worry – you don’t need to be a computer genius to do this! Check out these two videos and I’ll show you how to get started.

Once you’ve completed Part 1, just follow the instructions in the video below:

StudioPress Premium WordPress ThemesAs with anything – the more you put into your website, the more you’ll get out of it.

There are a TON of fancy things you can do with this AgentPress Pro (and many of the other options out there) if you’re willing to learn the ins-and-outs of it OR hire a professional from a place like Fiverr or Upwork.

RELATED: Working with Bluehost and AgentPress Pro is a very cost-effective way to get your buying website up and running, but it does require some patience and learning along the way. If you still find this process confusing and/or you’re looking for a more user-friendly alternative, you may be interested in an option like Lead Propeller or Investor Carrot, both of which can do 90% of the “heavy lifting” for you. These are subscription services with a higher monthly cost, but if ease-of-use is a priority for you, either one can make the process much easier.

5. Brand Your Business

When you’re starting any kind of business, something you’ll have to think about is your brand image (i.e. – how you portray yourself to the outside world).

As a real estate investor, this is even more important, because when you’re buying and selling properties, there are technically two arms of your company at work.

Arm 1 – Buying: This is the business name and image you portray as you’re looking for motivated sellers and buying properties. This name (and logo) goes on your buying website, your direct mail pieces, your letterhead and more. It should have it’s own dedicated phone number and website, with no links or connections to the “Selling Arm” of your business.

Arm 2 – Selling: This is a separate business name and logo, which you use when advertising and selling your properties. Likewise, this arm has it’s own dedicated phone number and separate selling website, with no links, mentions or connections to the “Buying Arm” of your business.

Of course, you don’t HAVE to structure your business this way. You can just use a single business name and façade for both purposes, but sometimes this can cause issues (for example, if you buy a property for $2,000 and the seller sees you list the same property on your website for $20,000 the next day).

To avoid any potential conflicts of interest, I’ve always used two separate business names (including logos, websites and phone numbers, etc.) to represent each arm of my business.

Both arms are operating under the same business entity (and my actual LLC name is what gets listed on all the contracts and deeds), but when I have an assumed name in place, it allows me to operate what looks like two unrelated businesses, even though they’re both operating via the same business entity.

Whether you choose to register a new business entity or operate as a sole proprietor, you will eventually have to decide how you want to brand your business as you move through the lifecycle of buying and selling properties. Even though this step isn’t required in order to start, you will have to make some decisions about this before you sell your first property, so it’s worth thinking about this from the outset.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Once you’ve navigated through this initial start-up phase and you’ve got the basic infrastructure of your business established, give yourself a pat on the back!

At the same time, it’s important to recognize one cold, hard fact.

You don’t actually have a legitimate business until you start making money.

When you’ve got above-mentioned pieces in place, your “deal processing machine” will be in good order, but remember – the whole point of all this is to make money.

You won’t start making money until you’ve started doing deals, and you won’t start doing deals until you’ve started pursuing property owners.

There are many ways to do this, but as I mentioned, my favorite method is through direct mail. If you’re looking for more insights on how to get started, be sure to check out these related blog posts:

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About the author

Seth Williams is a land investor with hundreds of closed transactions and nearly a decade of experience in the commercial real estate banking industry. He is also the Founder of REtipster.com - a real estate investing blog that offers real-world guidance for part-time real estate investors.

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  1. Nida says:

    Thanks for your advice and 5 valuable tips for investing real estate. Definitely these tips will help all the real estate investors. I say these tips will have great impact on investors. Everyone should have their own website that increase real estate sales.

  2. Agent Schoen says:

    Words are the most powerful force available to humanity and real estate business is not much more than a conversation. Nice Thinking!

  3. Chaz Heasley says:

    Really helpful article on how to use a website to generate leads. I am implementing this as well after watching the videos. Just wondering if I should add a terms of use checkbox that let’s the person filling out the form know that I may advertise the property listing on other websites and show it to other investors in my network to help them sell the property if I can’t buy it. For the most part the property information is probably already listed on the MLS by the owner. Do you think this is should be included just to protect myself legally for sharing information that I got from a website form? Is this allowed?

    1. Yeah, good point Chaz. I added this kind of checkbox on my “Sell Your Property” form, just to make some effort at disclosing this to the person submitting the information, and to give me some freedom with how I use the information. As for whether it’s allowed (legally speaking), that probably depends on what part of the world your users are operating in, and what is stated in the terms and conditions of your website (if you even have any). If you’re concerned about overstepping boundaries, then it’s probably best to just not do it at all.

  4. Chaz says:

    Great article. A lot of useful information for using a website to generate leads. I was going to implement this myself after watching your videos. I was just wondering if I should include a terms of use checkbox for legal protection if I cannot buy the property but want to help the seller by advertising the listing information on other websites and to other investors in my network. Is this legal? For the most part this property owner probably will already have this information on the MLS.. Are you allowed to share the information that you get from a form to third parties?

    1. Thanks Chaz! As for the technicalities of being the “middle man” and wholesaling the property to something else through an assignment, I think the legalities of this vary quite a bit from state to state, so you’d have to verify what is/isn’t allowed in the area where you’re working. I would definitely include some kind of legal CYA language if it were me.

  5. Wilson Investment Properties says:

    I couldn’t agree more to the point where you said “Starting a real estate investing business is no different”. The way you market your brand is what separates you from the crowd. Thank you for this informative article.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m glad it resonated with you.

  6. Ann Miller says:

    I appreciated what you reflected about the tax overage business, and believe i would have same frustrations of long waits.

    However, i have a question about cost of your educational program. I am in a position of transition of caretaking an elderly Mother. I closed a small business in another state to help Mother, experiencing much less income, and finding this process of helping parent a 24/7 endeavor, with much more time intensity than ever anticipated.
    So, before jumping in without having up front cost in front of
    me, would be a concern. I plan to be advantageous in time and income , as you projected about your path of choice…
    Is this a question you would answer up front?

    Thank you sincerely
    Ann Miller

    1. Ann miller says:

      I am also taking for granted one MUST have real estate license?

      1. If you want to buy and sell your own property (real estate you own, not on behalf of someone else)? No, you don’t need a license for that.

    2. Hey Ann, that’s a great question. Check out this blog post: https://retipster.com/costoflandinvesting – I think you’ll find it pretty informative about the startup costs required for a land flipping business.

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