By Sharon Vornholt
Real estate investors spend a great deal of time setting up the structure of their businesses. There are so many pieces to all of our businesses. We set up websites, write blog posts, develop strategies for lead and traffic generation, design opt-in forms, and write auto-responders. It is also necessary to create forms, set up systems and fine tune our procedures.
Real estate investors also have to do a lot of marketing in order to generate leads for our businesses. We set up direct mail campaigns, attend networking events and become marketing machines over time. Once we have the basic infrastructure of our business set up, we will hopefully get calls from motivated sellers. Be prepared to follow up with them and buy some property. After all, that is the reason we are in business; to buy property.
Many owners of real estate businesses fall into the category of “solopreneurs”. This can be a very isolated place to find yourself. At some point most of these same folks will either add support staff or outsource some of the work. This is tremendously helpful for taking some of that heavy work load off our shoulders. But, it doesn’t address the core issue of “reporting to yourself” every day; of being in charge; of keeping yourself on track to meet your goals. One other piece of the puzzle that is missing, is the interaction you get from having someone to bounce ideas off of. We all need someone that we can do that with, as well as someone to keep us accountable.
So, what’s the answer?
Some real estate investors can be pretty savvy when it comes to finding mentors; others find this to be a little harder. You really just have to show up at your local REIA, get to know folks and ask someone. It really is just that simple. Mentors are there to help you with quick questions, give you an opinion based on their expertise and possibly to keep you from making some big mistakes like paying too much for a piece of property. I have a number of folks that I consider my mentors. For instance, I asked one of my mentors who just happens to be my closing attorney, a legal question last week. It took about a minute of his time by email to give me a response to my question. I repay him for his time and expertise by doing all of my closings in his office. We have built a relationship that is mutually beneficial for both of us. Here is the really important thing to remember; this relationship always has to be a two way street. The law of reciprocity says that you must always find a way to give back to your mentor. They are not there to help you build your business from “start up to success”. Those people are called coaches, and they always cost money. You will need coaches down the line, but don’t confuse them with mentors.
I have had an accountability partner for about 18 months now, and it has been one of the best things I have ever done, both personally and also for my business. So how do you find one? The same way you find a mentor; you just ask someone. You can also put this question out there to people you know; “Do you know someone that would be a great accountability partner for me”?
This person is a little different than a mentor and they will have a different role. Your accountability partner should be in the same or a similar business so that they will understand your challenges. However, they should not be identical to you in your skill set, or even necessarily employ the same identical business strategy. You should each have something a little different to bring to the table. My accountability partner and I meet every Tuesday the first thing in the morning for about 45 minutes to an hour by phone. We commonly exchange a couple of emails each week and may even have another quick phone call (or two) during this same time period. Here is one distinction; any additional calls will generally come after getting a text that says, “Do you have a few minutes to talk”? The answer will typically either be “yes or how about this afternoon after this time?”
Once again, you have to respect the other person’s time. Your accountability partner should be there to help you solve problems, to bounce ideas off of, and most of all to keep you motivated and on track. Think of someone who is there to “hold your feet to the fire”. My accountability partner and I are great friends now, but we also have the ability (and duty) to hold the other person accountable for what they say they are going to do. It’s just that simple. If you are looking for someone to help you hold onto your excuses, that is not what this relationship is about. It is for that reason that I don’t think close friends and relatives are good choices for accountability partners.
There are a lot of different ways to set up a mastermind group. I believe that the best way is to look for folks that are in the same business (real estate), but are not exactly the same as you. They will likely have different investing strategies, different skills and different business models. They may also have another type of complimentary business or a secondary business. At least some of them should be further along or more advanced than you. If you want to create your first product, or go into coaching, then you should have someone in your group that has already done these things.
Individuals in your mastermind group also should be from different parts of the country. You don’t want to be sharing your ideas and the specifics of your business with your competitor down the block. It’s very important that you can be completely transparent with the members of your group or they won’t be able to help you. These people will become your biggest source of new ideas, and your biggest cheer leaders. They can also shorten your learning curve dramatically if you have the right mix of skills in your group.
Every mastermind group should have a leader that facilitates the conversation. We have a format that is a roundtable. We begin with each person having “their time” to give a summary of what they have been doing. Each person would usually have about 15 minutes or possibly longer if they are experiencing some type of problem. Our call generally lasts 1 ½ -2 hours and it is on the second Tuesday of each month in the evening. It is important to make this “appointment” with your mastermind group a priority. You need to show up on time and be prepared.
The final question that is asked of each person during the roundtable is, “Is there anything we can help you with”? We have 6 people in our group which I believe is ideal. If you have too many members, you won’t get the same benefit from the group.
Create YOUR Secret Sauce This Year
I hope you will make it your goal this year to find additional mentors to help you grow your business. Decide in advance what you can give back. Find an accountability partner and either join a mastermind group or start your own. Remember, you just have to ask.
Author: Sharon Vornholt
Sharon Vornholt is the owner of Innovative Property Solutions in Louisville, KY. She has been investing in real estate for over 15 years. Sharon is the creator of the Louisville Gals Real Estate Blog, and the popular podcast “Let’s Talk Real Estate Investing” which you can find on iTunes. She is also a mentor and coach who loves teaching others how to succeed in this business.
If you’d like to find out more about Sharon’s real estate coaching and mentoring programs, you can reach her at Sharon@sharonvornholt.com
For your FREE REPORT “Probates and Absentee Owners: Your Fast Track to Real Estate Riches”, stop by her blog at: http://LouisvilleGalsRealEstateBlog.com.