5 Tips To Avoid The Self-Employment Trap

by Randy Zimnoch

Working at a traditional job can get pretty boring. Between staff meetings, expense reports and budget projections, it can be too much to take in. One of the reasons that many investors make the jump to real estate is to escape the office blues. Instead of being a slave to the clock, you can make your own schedule, and come and go as you please. This may work for some, but others find this freedom difficult to handle. Instead of taking advantage of their flexible schedule, they end up having too much time on their hands. Working for yourself can be a rewarding experience, but only if you do it right. Here are some ways to help you avoid the self-employment trap and get the most out of your business.

1. Treat it like a business: Once you make the decision to invest in real estate, you should commit to it. Even if you invest part-time, you need to treat it like a business. You can model your business any way you like, but there has to be some structure. This means establishing a blueprint for what you want out of the business and how you want to do it. Think back to your days in the office and write down what worked and what didn’t. Just because you don’t have to be in the office at 9:00 doesn’t mean you don’t have to work. Working for yourself just means that you can make the rules. You need to have rules in place and a structure to follow. Creating a business plan for your investing career should be no different than any other business. The more you treat investing like a business, the more successful it will be.

2. Set Goals. You may have despised trying to hit monthly goals, but they are an important part of any business. As a self-employed real estate investor, you need to be self-motivated. Nobody is going to call you out if you don’t reach your numbers. You are not going to get fired if you have a bad quarter. It is important that you make a set of goals that you try to reach. These goals can be something as small as talking to a certain number of new contacts every day. On the other hand, they can be as big as trying to close five deals a month. Whatever your goals are, make them attainable when you are just starting out. Accomplishing little goals will lead to wanting to do more. Keep your expectations in check, but always make goals to shoot for.

3. Plan you day. Don’t think that just because you don’t have to be in the office early that you don’t have to get up. Investing in real estate is a different schedule than you may have known. There are plenty of networking opportunities that are in the evening, or at night. This is a change that takes some getting used to. The best way to get around this is to plan your day out before you wake up. Monday morning meetings in the office may have been boring, but they set the tone for the rest of the week. Without a firm schedule to follow, it is easy to take the foot off the pedal. By planning your day, you force yourself to maximize your time. It is easy to get caught up on your favorite website and waste an hour of your day. If you have a task for every hour, you are less likely to slack off. Before you go to bed, make a list of everything you need to do the next day. This way you can wake up with a plan of attack in place and get going.

4. Hold yourself accountable. Most investors are self-motivated. They don’t need someone telling them what to do or when to do it. They have families to support or obligations to meet. Even the most focused investors need to hold themselves accountable for their actions. You can play a round of golf at noon, but you need to find time to make up the work. If you fail to follow up on a new lead, there is nobody to blame but yourself. You are the CEO, president and chief financial planner of your business. Your success is in your own hands. You are not obligated to attend a networking meeting if you don’t want to, but you will pay the consequences if you . Find a way to punish yourself every time you miss a goal or skip a meeting. There is nobody looking over your shoulder. You need to hold yourself accountable for everything you do in your business.

5. Surround yourself with positive people. New investors usually work by themselves. Even if they have a partner they are not interacting like they did in their office. The many home flipping shows on TV has made everyone a real estate expert. There will be people that will tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. It is important that you surround yourself with a positive team that wants you to succeed. This doesn’t mean you can’t listen to the opinions around you. Listen to everyone, but know that there are many negative people out there. They have been burned by bad tenants or got involved in a bad deal. They see the downside on every deal. If you listen to negativity long enough, you will begin to turn negative.

Making the leap from a traditional office job to self-employed investor is a big change. If you are not careful, you can fall into an unproductive trap. Follow these five steps and remember why you made the switch in the first place.