Many self-acclaimed real estate gurus state that everyone should quit their jobs and immediately jump into full time real estate investing. They often claim incredible results from students with little experience. We would like to caution that life-changing decisions are not usually simple and that full time investing is not for everyone. Let’s discuss some pros and cons of full-time versus part-time investing.The Full-Time InvestorEntering into the real estate profession on a full-time basis offers several advantages over a part-time commitment. Being successful requires you to develop knowledge in many aspects of real estate, and more time focused on real estate leads to greater knowledge. The more your learn, the more you earn, since you do not need to rely on as many professional services or partners for help. You also learn to recognize a deal (or a dud) faster, which gives you more time to do more business or spend with your family.As a full-time investor, you work your own hours. When we say “full-time,” that may mean as little as twenty hours per week if you are good at finding deals. The rest of your time can be spent pursuing other vocations or hobbies. Or, if you are so inspired, you can work forty or more hours and use the extra cash flow to buy rental properties or diversify your holdings in the stock market. The point is that you need to satisfy your cash flow needs before you can start “investing” your money.One final point you should consider is whether you want to be “self-employed.” If you have always worked for someone else, being your own boss sounds very attractive. In some, respects, this isn’t quite the truth. Being your own boss means being an accountant, bookkeeper, stock clerk, receptionist and office manager all-in-one. You have to do deal with tax returns, payroll, office supplies, customer service, bills and all the other hassles that come with a business. You don’t have friends to chat with at the water cooler. You don’t have paid health insurance, a company car and a 401(k). You take your problems home with you every night. Sound like fun? It is, once you learn how to master your time and run your business. Being the master of your own life and career is well worth the other hassles of dealing with your own business.The Part-Time InvestorThe part-time investor holds a “regular job.” This may be by choice or for the time being until his real estate ventures are bringing in enough cash to quit his job. If it is the latter reason, don’t quit your job because the real estate “guru” told you so. Quit your job when it is not worth the income that it brings you. In other words, if you are making more money per hour flipping properties on the side, you are at the point that where your regular job is costing you money. Only then, is it time to quit!One of the advantages of starting out part-time is that you can maintain cash flow while learning the business. It may take weeks or possibly months to find your first deal. That same deal may take several months to turn around, especially if you decide to fix it and sell it retail. Think twice before telling your boss you’re leaving; you will have plenty of time to make the career switch once you have real estate experience. You may, on the other hand, like your occupation. If so, continue to work at it, and invest in real estate on the side.The best case scenario, if you are married, is to have one spouse work a regular job. The other spouse work the real estate business for creating wealth, retirement income and a nice college fund for the children. Of course, in today’s market, you could be laid off due to unforeseen circumstances. If you earn additional income flipping houses and invest the proceeds into rental properties, you will be covered if your main income is lost. This is especially the case for married women that often forego a career and raise a family, only to find themselves divorced with no means of making a living. We don’t want to sound cynical about marriage, but with a fifty-percent divorce rate in America, it never hurts to have a system for making money.Someone with a full time job tends to have little free time to focus on real estate. A part-timer should learn most of the same skills as a full timer. Thus, the key disadvantage to flipping properties on a part-time basis is that it takes sacrifice to learn the business. Something has to give; television, lazy weekends, meaningless hobbies and even some family activities must be compromised. As with any education, time spent learning about real estate will bring its own rewards, especially if the people in your life understand your goals and your plan to achieve those goals. If you are married, make sure your spouse reads this material with you and participates in the fun process of making money.Treat Real Estate as a BusinessPeople are lured to real estate because of the quick buck that it promises. Don’t hold your breath, you won’t get rich quick. An “overnight sensation” usually takes about five years. More than ninety percent of the people who take a real estate seminar quit after three months. Real estate investing should be treated with the seriousness of a career. It takes months, even years for a business to cultivate customers and have a life of its own. You need to treat it like any other business.
In today’s world of breakthrough technology it’s easier than ever to stay connected. Laptops, Blackberries, and iPhone’s combined with social networks like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter provide business professionals (especially real estate agents) with powerful tools to not only establish many new relationships but also to stay up to date with those relationships on a consistent basis.Although these new methods of staying in touch may provide new opportunities for expanding our personal network, they also present many challenges when it comes to staying productive and focusing our energy into activities that really improve our business and our lives. For real estate agents, this is especially crucial because selling real estate is all about relationships.What can agents do to manage, not only their relationships, but also their time, energy, and health? In this article, we are going to look at three ways that you can begin to manage your time, energy, and relationships in a way that keeps you and your clients most productive.1. Focus on your biggest opportunities instead of getting caught up in busy work. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “doing-ness” of day to day activities that we lose sight of what’s really important in our life. All the little things that need to be done cry out for our immediate attention and before we know it the whole day is gone. Sometimes we are left asking ourselves, “where did all the time go?” or “what did I accomplish today?”The problem stems from a mistaken belief that if we are “doing” lots of stuff, that we are being “productive”. It turns out that how much we do is not necessarily important; it’s also what we do that counts. The specifics of this will be different for each agent, of course. You will have to figure this out based on your own approach to real estate sales, your expertise, and where you have the most success.For example, you could spend two hours working on fancy business cards and letterhead, or you could call up some prospects that you met at the last open house. Which activity is more productive in the long run? Which one will benefit your business the most? Usually our biggest opportunities lay in wait while we attend to menial day to day busy work. It’s not until we identify our biggest opportunities and make a focused effort to work on them, that we will make real progress in building our business. So ask yourself, “What are my biggest opportunities?” See if you can list 5 activities that will lead to real business results.2. Take care of yourself and your clients by setting clear boundaries If you close your eyes and imagine the ideal “successful” agent, you will probably find yourself imagining a person who is not only busy, but also on their phone constantly. A phone that rings often can be a wonderful thing for an agent (especially in this market). So it would make sense for an agent to make him or herself available as often as possible, right? Well, maybe.We want to be by the phone when that important call comes in, (such as a call from a referral or a call to close a deal), yet we don’t want to be waking up at 2 am to answer calls from wrong numbers or even freaked out buyers (so they can freak us out too). Where do we draw the line when it comes to taking business calls versus unplugging and getting some rest and relaxation?On the one hand, we want to be available to our clients and serve them as best we can, yet on the other hand we also have to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. If we mistakenly believe that being a real estate agent means that we have to sacrifice everything (including our well-being) to serve our clients and get the listing, then our health will start to suffer. Then, consciously or unconsciously, we may begin to resent our clients, our work, or our life in general.If we don’t keep our energy tank full by maintaining health self-care, then we can become sick and tired and unhappy. Guess what that does to our business? Yea, it’s not so good. How can we expect to take care of our clients if we aren’t taking care of ourselves? The answer lies in finding the right balance of work and rest. This means setting clear boundaries when it comes to taking client calls and checking emails.I can hear the questions already, “but real estate agents must always be available, it’s part of the job, otherwise they may miss out on all the deals!” This type of reasoning is usually coming out of an anxious part of ourself, the one that acts out of scarcity and need.People like agents who are friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. If you set clear hours of when you are working and communicate them to your client, what you are communicating is your standards of integrity. They may not like it (especially if they go into an emotional frenzy and can’t get a hold of you) but at a deep level, they will respect you. And best of all, you will respect you.By setting clear times when you are taking calls and checking emails, you establish boundaries and focus your energy. Without clear boundaries, our mind (and energy) becomes scattered and we soon feel like we are being pulled in every direction. Some people call it A.D.D. but frankly it’s just a lack of ability to focus and set boundaries.Our body will usually tell us when we are done; we get very tired, can’t concentrate well, and become easily distracted. By becoming aware of when our body usually checks out of work, we can create a schedule of times of the day when we are available and when we are unavailable.Of course, when deals are closing and things get down to the wire, you can make adjustments. The key is to service your clients as best you can while still taking care of yourself. Ask yourself, “what boundaries do I need to set with my clients so that I can be healthy enough to best serve them?” Remember, you are the deal maker, and when you are in a vibrant state of mind with a ton of energy, good things happen!3. Build recovery into your work routine This one is related to the last tactic in that we have to stay conscious of our own energy level if we intend to perform with maximum effectiveness. They key with any real estate agent is to figure out “when am I going to stop working and recovery my energy?”For most regular jobs, a person works Monday through Friday then gets the weekend off. For real estate agents, the weekend is where all the action happens! Yet, during the week is when all the paperwork and follow up calls happen. So it becomes very easy for agents to work 7 days a week without set days for them to rest. Combine this with constant phone calls, emails, and inconsistent commissions; it’s no wonder many agents live under constant stress.If we are going full speed without any rest, then it’s only a matter of time before we burn out. This is why it’s crucial to set aside time to recover. This means to completely unplug from work and “do nothing” for a little while, at least. Now the amount can vary depending on your level of business and your preference. For some, this may mean taking a month off in another country at the end of each year, for others it could be taking a weekend getaway after a big deal closes, or for others it could simply be a 20 minute power nap midway through the day.They important thing is to build in this period of recover into our work schedule, one in which we completely disconnect from cell phones, email, and work altogether. We can read a book, meditate, do some yoga, whatever. The idea is that we have to recharge our battery. A good rule of thumb is to take 5 or 10 minutes rest for every hour of intensely focused work.When we go too long without full periods of recovery, then our capacity to do work slowly and consistently diminishes. So while a certain work-related activity may take us 20 minutes, if we are overworked and low on energy, that same activity could take 50 minutes. Compound this effect over years and you get the idea. By building in set periods of recovery, we return to our work with renewed vigor and clarity. We may have slightly less “work time”, but our capacity to work will be much greater and we will likely do even more work that we could have done otherwise.Professional athletes are very familiar with this concept. They train hard and then they recover. Then, the next time their capacity to perform is even greater. In the real estate business it’s the same. If you are worried about losing leads during your recovery period, see if you can direct calls to a fellow agent while you rest and do the same for them. Get creative, there is always a solution. It’s just a matter of making your energy and health a priority. So there you have it, three simple yet counter-intuitive secrets to becoming more productive in your real estate business.