Ep 53: Starting a real estate firm is different than scaling a real estate firm

People often reach out to me asking for advice on launching a real estate company and how to hire an acquisitions specialist overseas, a cold caller, or some other role that will help them scale. My first question is how much they’re trying to acquire, and their answer is almost always one property between $500K and $5M. These people don’t know what it’s like to buy a property, they don’t know how to call owners, and yet they want to hire someone to do the work they don’t want to do.

There are two main stages of launching a real estate company: the first stage involves hands-on, gritty work, and spending time on activities that don’t scale. There is no secret to it. A market study is as simple as calling competitors, acquisitions is as simple as picking up the phone, and operations is just keeping your facility clean and answering customers’ calls. If you haven’t bought a property yet, stop planning to scale and cold call 30 people tomorrow.

When my partner Dan and I started Storage Squad, we spent a whole summer writing down a full business plan about how things were going to work. It was a really valuable exercise, but the truth is things started to change the second that we stepped foot in the warehouse. Real estate is no different, you need to learn through experience before you think about scaling.

The second phase of real estate comes when you have a few pieces of property and a proven model. People ask me all the time how I have time to scale and run the company when keeping up with life, but scaling doesn’t have to be about doing work. I find really good people to do the work, set them up to succeed, and spend a bit of time making high-value decisions. I’m not the main point of contact, so I don’t find myself in the weeds doing the work.

A good business scales beyond the owner. No key piece of work is reliant on me; if I were the main contact of 10 bankers, 275 active investors, and all of our brokers, then I’d have no time to do anything impactful to grow and protect the company. So many business owners don’t hire, delegate, and manage well, and it takes a unique person and skillset to scale effectively.

It all starts out with the little stuff. I cold-called facilities, I answered the phone from customers, and then I transitioned towards scaling. If you’re not willing to do the work then you’ll never get off the ground.

P.S. If now is the time to start your own journey, the real estate community is for you. I weigh in on almost every post, and there are a lot of people smarter and more accomplished than me.

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P.S.S. Record a voice memo for any question you have about small business or real estate and email it to [email protected] and I’ll answer it on the show

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.