• The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success
  1. Join 40,000+ entrepreneurs
    who are kicking butt and
    winning their dream life.

    Unscripted™ Entrepreneurship:
    A Business That Pays More Than Money, It Pays Time.

    "Fastlane" is an entrepreneur discussion forum based on The Unscripted Entrepreneurial Framework (TUNEF) outlined in the two best-selling books by MJ DeMarco (The Millionaire Fastlane and UNSCRIPTED™). From multimillionaires to digital nomads, the forum features real entrepreneurs creating real businesses.

    Download (Unscripted) Download (Millionaire Fastlane)  Register
    Registering for the forum removes this block!

INTRO Quit my job, running my real estate company and new beginnings

Discussion in 'Forum Introductions (Who are you!?)' started by passion518, Jul 23, 2018.

  1. passion518
    Offline

    passion518 Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    91
    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Rep Bank:
    $591
    Hey guys!


    I've been away from this forum for a long time. I attended the fastlane summit in 2016 and met some of you guys there. Since I've been completely inactive on here since then, I'm going to run down what has happened in my life and business from the beginning.


    Here's the recap:



    Girlfriend + First Child at Young Age

    I started dating my girlfriend (now wife) when I was 18. By the time I was 20 (2010) she was pregnant with our first daughter. When my daughter was born I started reading, learning and networking as much as possible to get myself and my family in a better spot. I vowed to myself to give my daughter the best life possible and to be the best father possible. At the time, I worked an entry level position in a manufacturing company. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do.


    Started Real Estate Company / First Deal

    In 2015 I started my real estate company, Vantage Real Estate Solutions, with the intention of purchasing run down properties, renovating and holding. My dad was a carpenter and work was slow for him so I was solving a few problems at the same time. During the process of searching for our first deal we came across a property that didn't make sense as a rental - but could make us a quick buck as a flip. We did that and did well. 10 week job, $55k net (still one of my best deals to date). With our good profit, we (accidentally) were off to the races. We bought and flipped another house. Hired a few guys (as subcontractors), and my dad ran the guys during the day, then I would go after my day job and work til midnight most nights.


    Marriage

    I got married in April of 2016. Greatest decision I ever made. I have a great wife who always supports me in everything I do.


    Duplex and Quadplex

    Parallel to the second flip - we did find a home-run rental deal (duplex) that needed renovation. We tackled both at the same time. Finished the rental and had a few weeks left on the flip. Then we found ANOTHER home-run rental deal (quad-plex with garages).


    LIFE KICKED ME IN THE TEETH

    We were about 4 weeks into the quad-plex renovation, which was the largest job me or my dad had ever done. We projected it to be about a $150k rehab. There was a 3 car detached garage at the property that had an apartment above it. The water lines that ran underground from the house to the garage apartment had something wrong and we couldn’t get any water in that apartment. My dad and I went over on a Saturday morning to run new underground water lines. We rented an excavator and jackhammer. There were only about 3 sidewalk blocks to break up that were in our way. I was working on the excavator and my dad grabbed the jackhammer. I never liked to let him lift heavy sh*t, since his back sometimes bothered him. I asked him to switch with me, but he said he actually felt great and his back wasn't bothering him at all. We got the whole job done by around noon and went home for the day. My wife grabbed cheese steaks for us and my dad stopped at our place to eat. He went home and I took a nap. I woke up to a frantic phone call from my mom about an hour later. She was crying and said my dad collapsed in the shower. 58 years old, my dad who for the most part was in good health was taken from the world and from me.


    I still blame myself a lot for that day.


    So here I was, 25 years old with all of this work on the 4 unit building only in the beginning stages of a remodel, and my dad is gone. I also had another property (right next to the 4 unit) under contract to close in the next 3 weeks. With the duplex that we had just recently finished and rented out – I was having every problem under the sun…the subcontractor we used for vinyl siding did a bad job and some of the siding was popping off. Our plumber did a bad job connecting sink drains and we had leaks. The sump pump in the basement failed and the basement flooded messing up the water heaters and boilers – you name it – this is when it all went wrong.


    While on the surface this may seem like the WORST time for everything to go wrong, and at the time it certainly felt like it – in hindsight, I’m grateful for all these problems. I truly believe all the problems are what kept me sane. I knew that if I didn’t get everything done quickly and efficiently I would quickly lose everything. I was heavily leveraged and couldn’t afford to mourn for a year, month, or even a week.


    Keep On Going

    I got the 4 unit done and fully rented out. I finished insanely over budget due to making stupid mistakes, mis-managing (basically no management) of the employees we still had, taking too long (high holding costs and taxes) and basically just making every mistake you can imagine. Even going over budget by $50k, it still made a lot of sense to hold onto. I refinanced and covered all my costs – financed $220k, and gross monthly rent is right around $4,500.


    I closed on the other place I had under contract. This was going to be a rental that I’d hold also. I never had any desire to own single family rentals – I only wanted multifamily, but when this literally dropped in my lap for a $15k purchase price and was right next door to my 4 unit, I couldn’t turn it down. For the rehab, I used the guys that my dad and I had working for us to do most of the work, and put in a lot of sweat equity myself. The place wasn’t horrible, basically just a cosmetic rehab. No floor plan changes, no HVAC work, no electrical, some pluming. Again – a million problems but got the job done.






    The Gabion Wall Flip Property

    Parallel to finishing that job, I got another property that I intended to flip under contract. I had an equity partner that had done some real estate deals and other business/financial deals with me. Detailing what we had done prior would be another whole story. 2 weeks prior to closing on the flip, I realized the guys working for me were totally f*cking me. Now I admit, much of it was my fault due to lack of management (I was still working my full time job and managing them by having a phone call each morning and texts throughout the day). I found out that for at least a 2 week period – and probably LONG before that – the 3 guys were basically showing up 2 or 3 hours late, leaving early, and buying extra materials that I didn’t need – for them to take. I got rid of all them and kicked myself for being stupid.


    Now I had to do the first big job since losing my dad, and I had no team to support me, no one to guide me, nothing. Though I had been around trades my whole life and I am mechanically skilled – I have never been employed in any trade. How the f*ck was I, some dumb kid, going to get this job done? One. Bite. At. A. Time.


    I basically worked on the place nights and weekends. This is when I (almost) perfected the art of working quietly. When your rehabbing a house at midinight – you tend to piss a lot of neighbors off, so I had to figure out how to be quiet after 8pm. I did hire a $10/hr high school grad to go over during the day and clean up and do basic odds and ends, and I hired a sub to do vinyl siding. My partner did some of the electrical work and other tasks with me, but for the most part I had to get it all done myself.


    The biggest challenge at this place was that outback there was a creek only about 20 feet away from the house. There was a failed retaining wall that was about 8 feet tall that I had to do something about. I wanted to basically rebuild it as it was originally. When applying for the permit, the township told me I need DEP authorization. I called around and looked into the process. Basically, to pour any sort of footer or build any sort of permanent structure along a waterway would have cost me about $10k in surveying, engineering, approvals, etc, and would be about a 12-18 month process. f*ck. I couldn’t lose 10k and 18 months on this place – I had to get it done cheap and turned around quick! I read a lot and started driving around and looking at waterways with walls around them. I learned about gabion baskets, which are basically steel cages with rocks inside. I figured this would be a damn good work around and gray area for me to be able to get by. After all – it is not a “permanent” structure and I wouldn’t be pouring any concrete, etc. I ran the idea by the township and they said – go for it! There were many more hurdles – but I got the wall done. Basically I built the gabion baskets about 3’ high right along the water, then build a standard retaining wall about 2 feet back from the gabion baskets, about another 3’ tall. All in all, a challenging job, but I got it done. That was a big accomplishment for me. This is when I realized – I actually can do this sh*t.




    Growing and Branching Out

    I went on and did a few more flips. I ventured into Philadelphia. A buddy of mine had already been doing jobs in the city and he lost his funding partner (long story). I had funding lined up, now having good relations with my banks, my equity partner, and I had lined up at least a half dozen other private investors just by constantly selling myself to the people around me. We started a partnership and did a few jobs in the city.


    Dad x2 + Wife Quits Job + Moving

    My wife was pregnant with our second daughter when she called me one day crying from her job. She had worked for a company making medical records into digital format. She was calling and telling me how one of her bosses was bashing her for a mistake she made. She hated the guy and he would often make sexist remarks to her and all the other girls in the office. I didn’t even think about what I told her to do. “Babe, quit.” “What do you mean? I can’t just quit! They’ll yell at me even more and put me down and make me feel like sh*t!” “How will we pay the bills!?” “Babe, just quit. We’ll be fine”. She quit, and that was that. I would never allow my wife to ever feel out of control and belittled by a “boss” ever again.


    I sold our first personal residence in Ridley Park, PA and moved to West Chester, PA. My wife was still pregnant with our second daughter during the move. The new house was a fixer upper also, but I was more inclined to stay in the West Chester area longer. There were great schools and the property taxes were much cheaper than Ridley Park, and now I had an acre of land – and a pool. All this came with a much bigger payment of course.



    Since then, and to this date – she now helps with managing the 7 rental units we have and does tasks like marketing, tenant screening, tenant management, repair scheduling, etc. She also handles a lot of my payables across the whole company. Most importantly – she’s a kick a$$ mom.



    Growing Someone Else’s Company / I Quit

    Parallel to all this – I had been advancing like hell at my day job. Turns out reading hundreds of business, marketing, sales and finance books, while working on your own business makes you pretty attractive to the company you’ve been working at for years. The owner saw my successes in my business and wanted me to implement some of the thing I had learned in his business. In late 2017 he asked me to help run his company form a product development, sales and marketing, and operational management, and systems development position. As I write this - It’s tough to even call it a position, because everything about it was actually more about the lack of positions. Fundamentally and operationally, basically everything at the company was a mess. There was no overall direction, no target, no goals, no training, and very few systems. I was excited to help out as I truly felt I could make a huge impact and set some systems in place and get the company running like a machine with a purpose.


    I spent a few months working on some new product development, branding, marketing, and sales. It was really hard to get this across to the owner – but everything I was doing literally would have been easier if we were a new company. All the new development we were doing was basically a different market and an entirely different business model. We were a customized, build to order business. Now we were building high end performance parts that WEREN’T custom. This meant we needed inventory, and ALL new systems and processes on how to do everything from market/product analysis to engineering, to handling operationally. Everything was moving along, but the company experienced a really bad cash flow crunch by the end of the second quarter in 2018. Cash flow crunches were normal for us. Very normal... But at this point I got tired of hearing about it. A lot of the problems were due to the owner and choices he made. (He’s my buddy to this date, and I have no problem telling him ALL of this, and have on many occasions). One morning he bitched to me for 4 hours, yes 4 hours, about how “hard” everything is. It’s not like I didn’t understand his position or stance. I did. I understood most of it. The problem was, in my opinion, he wasn’t working to fix the problems. He let the problems live and just dealt with them until they all built up, and I couldn’t stand hearing about it one more time.


    I didn’t think much about the conversation the rest of the day. It was nothing new. I had other things to focus on in literally every moment not spent trying to build his company. I had 6 rehabs going on, 1 for sale, and 2 more under contract. I woke up the next morning and called my boss on my ride into work. I didn’t plan on doing what I did, but the conversation quickly turned into complaining again from him. I snapped. The day prior had me on edge and I said f*ck THIS. I told him to stop being a bitch and DO SOMETHING about the problems. I unleashed all the things that I felt he is doing wrong, not in an a**hole way – but a constructive way (if that makes sense). He took it well and agreed on most points. He asked what I would do if I was him. I rattled off a few things. The biggest was this – stop trying to grow when you have no capital. Our core products that we’ve built for years are insanely profitable and we’re good and efficient at making them. For years he has been taking all the profit to try to diversify into other markets. While I don’t disagree with this method entirely – the execution was always horrible. My advice was not what he wanted to hear. I told him given the current market and financial position of the company, I would lay off 75% of the employees, sell a lot of equipment and go back to the super profitable products and run the company for 18-24 months. Let it build profit and at the end of 24 months if you really want to diversify into other markets – now you’ll have the capital to do so.


    In finishing saying that, I felt that it was so true and the ONLY way for him to survive and thrive as a company. He agreed completely…but he didn’t want to do it. It didn’t align with his impatient and unrealistic goals. As common – he didn’t want to make the hard decisions, even when he knew they were right. So I did what I figured would validate that I truly believed in the advice I gave him, and I quit. I told him it’s the only way you’re going to get it off the ground. Cut all your overhead and go back to the grass roots. Good luck.


    I immediately felt relieved. I didn’t think about any of the problems that would arise from this. I just did it. My company was already profitable and had a history. I had more work then ever. My company needed me. I told the owner I’d stick around for 6 weeks so I could set in place a few of the things I had been working on. There was literally no one to hand anything off to. I just had to set sh*t in place myself or my work would be lost forever. I told him at the end of the 6 weeks I would stay on as a consultant if he needed me. I knew he would need this, and I knew the company could afford this.


    Why My Company Exists

    There’s a lot I hate about flipping, but when I started it was a means to generate capital to be able to acquire rental properties. With my current 7 rental units, I have grown more wealth than with any other combination of deals I have done. At the same time, they generate enough cash flow that I can cover many of my living expenses. (My goal was to get a few more cash flowing units under my belt before jumping ship and doing my own thing – but that’s just not how life worked out for me I guess).


    In the time I have spent running my business I have witnessed a lot of other people try to do the same as me and failed. When breaking it down I think there’s a really simple reason for this. Most people jump into flipping and owning rentals to better THEMSELVES. While I admit this is why I started also – this is NO LONGER why I still do it. I realized that I am really good at controlling costs and offering a finished product unrivaled by any other flipper or developer in my market. I realized that if I’m not doing it – someone else will, and they WON’T do as good a job as me. If I can provide more value to my market and consumers than the next guy, I not only am happy to do so…but I feel it is my responsibility to do so.


    Today

    This brings us to today. As of writing this, it has been 3 weeks since I left the company and have been focusing on my business. I currently have 6 active flips going on, 1 under contract to close (purchase) this week, and more potential deals in the pipeline.



    So, my goal was that once I generated enough cash flow to cover expenses – I would continue running my business flipping houses, continue purchasing rentals, and with all my “free time” from not having a job anymore I would focus on a product based business that DOES follow all the commandments. I’ve mentally jumped around a bit on WHAT exactly I could do to provide the most value to the world. Since I jumped ship and deviated from my previous plan, I’m trying to shake everything out sooner!


    In my next post I’ll share my current idea!
     
  2. Zenoviy Kovtun
    Offline

    Zenoviy Kovtun New Contributor

    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    18
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2017
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    IL
    Rep Bank:
    $105
    This was great and very insightful.

    I currently work in multifamily real estate but am looking to grow a portfolio of rental properties too. I want to pursue value add rentals like yourself.

    How do you suggest going about remodeling these units if i dont have any direct trades experience?
    -hire out ?
    -partner with someone?
    -learn as I go and do the work myself?

    Of course while being aware of holding costs and time.

    Thank you!
     
  3. Red
    Online

    Red Nigerian Lottery Prince Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    3,278
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Location:
    Phoenix
    Rep Bank:
    $19,804
    Great write up, please keep documenting this process. Also...

    Please, don't. You gave your dad an amazing last day on this earth. He got to spend time with one of his favorite people (you, duh), accomplishing goals & being productive. He stepped into that shower feeling accomplished & proud of an honest day's work. Smile because you gave him a great last day on this earth. Even though neither of you knew it in the moment. Be proud of that. I'm sure he is.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018
  4. MJ DeMarco
    Online

    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

    Messages:
    26,728
    Likes Received:
    83,480
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Rep Bank:
    $352,837
    Admin Post
    So sorry to hear about your Dad, my condolences.

    Yes! Congrats on taking control, a true example of "FU"!
     
    Thirty&Free likes this.
  5. passion518
    Offline

    passion518 Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    91
    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Rep Bank:
    $591
    I would suggest learning as you go and doing most of the work yourself if possible. It's hard to develop systems to control your company in the future if you don't understand what exactly is being done, why, and how.

    If you have a reason you CAN'T do it yourself, I'd recommend partering with someone who not only can do the above, but they also need to understand the importance of developing systems in the future. Do not "partner" with a GC that you'll work with once and done.

    Hiring out is last. I don't hire out on things that I don't understand. It may sound backwards, but its how I roll!

    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
     
  6. passion518
    Offline

    passion518 Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    91
    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Rep Bank:
    $591
    Thanks so much Red! Made me tear up over here

    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
     
    Red likes this.
  7. passion518
    Offline

    passion518 Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    91
    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Rep Bank:
    $591
    Thanks MJ!

    As a side note, I've listened to Unscripted probably about 6 times since you've released it

    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
     
    MJ DeMarco likes this.
  8. JScott
    Online

    JScott Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

    Messages:
    3,751
    Likes Received:
    5,898
    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Rep Bank:
    $42,557
    Great story, but so sorry about your dad. Awesome that you got to start your journey with him, though...

    Congrats on the success!
     
  9. Rhino
    Offline

    Rhino Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED

    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    31
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2018
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    London
    Rep Bank:
    $164
    Amazing progress, well done!

    I’m so sorry about your dad, but please please please don’t blame yourself. I know it’s hard to take positives from something like that at the time, but you’re so lucky that you were able to start this with him. I’m sure he would be immensely proud of how well you’re doing now!
     
  10. passion518
    Offline

    passion518 Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    91
    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Rep Bank:
    $591
    Thanks JScott !

    Hoping I can reach your level one day

    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
     
  11. passion518
    Offline

    passion518 Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    91
    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Rep Bank:
    $591
    Thanks Rhino!

    I definitely look at all the positives and am grateful for what I had and have today. It's just hard to not feel at blame when it seems an event occurred due to something you set in motion yourself.

    Thanks for the support. Everyone here rocks

    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
     
  12. JScott
    Online

    JScott Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

    Messages:
    3,751
    Likes Received:
    5,898
    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Rep Bank:
    $42,557
    Feel free to reach out anytime!
     
    passion518 likes this.
  13. Kelley McEachern
    Offline

    Kelley McEachern New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    10
    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cottage Grove, Oregon
    Rep Bank:
    $58
    Thank you for taking the time to share this with us. My deepest heartfelt condolences about your father. I had a similar experience with my mother in 2002 and my father in 2008. It is hard to describe and I am tearing up a bit just thinking about it. <hug> I started in this field last year with my brother being similar to your dad (but with less experience). I was not confident in his management skills of subs and I know how he is personally with money so fear got the best of me so I pulled the plug on everything even before we got committed. It just didn't feel right. I will start my own post as I am am not giving up and starting from zero day. Congrats on your perseverance and best wishes on your continued success. Check in and keep us posted on your progress.
     

Share This Page