Real Estate Mentors, Accountability Partners, and Masterminds; Your Secret Sauce

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As real estate investors, we spend a great deal of time setting up the structure 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. We also create forms, set up systems and fine tune our procedures. There are so many pieces to our businesses.

We create direct mail campaigns, attend networking events and become marketing machines. 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 of these owners of real estate business fall into the category of “solopreneurs” which can be a very isolating 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. The other thing 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?

Mentors, Accountability Partners and Masterminds

This is truly the secret sauce in every business and in my opinion you need all three. I have found that this will skyrocket your growth in most cases.

Real Estate Mentors

Most real estate investors are pretty savvy when it comes to finding mentors. You really just have to show up at your local REIA or in online forums like 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 a big mistake like paying too much for a piece of property.

In my business I have a number of folks that I consider my mentors. For instance I asked one of my mentors 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. Here is the really important thing to remember; this always has to be a two way street. Remember the law of reciprocity; 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 may need coaches down the line, but don’t confuse them with mentors.

Accountability Partners

Having an accountability partner is a fairly new thing for me. I have had one for a little over a year now, and it has been one of the best things I have ever done both personally and 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. They should be in the same or a similar business so that they will understand your challenges. But they should not be identical to you in your skill sets or even have the same identical business strategy necessarily. 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 will also email each other a few times a week and will typically have another short phone call (or two) during the week. This call will generally come about after 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.

Mastermind Groups

There are many ways to set up a mastermind group. The best way is to look for folks that are also in the same business (real estate), but folks that again have different strategies, different skills and different business models. They may also have another type of complimentary business. At least some of them should be further along 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.

Your mastermind group should have a leader that facilitates the conversation. We have a format that is a roundtable. Each person gets to have “their time” during the call which typically lasts 1 ½ hours on the second Tuesday of each month in the evening. 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

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.

Photo:Tambako the Jaguar

About Author

Sharon Vornholt

Sharon has been investing in real estate since 1998. She owned and operated a successful home inspection company for 17 years. In January of 2008 she took the leap of closing her business to become a full time real estate investor.


  1. Great article Sharon, I have always belonged to a mastermind group & had a mentor. I just recently assigned myself an accountability partner for the sole purpose to make sure i accomplish my task for the day. I really disliked making phone calls & would make one or two and be done for the day. Now my accountability partner has access to my google voice & skype account & can check to see if I made my required calls for the day. That’s the one major task, but we bounce ideals off each other & it has really stretched & challenged me.

  2. Hi Sharon! Great content. I have some awesome mentors and a mastermind group. I was missing that for many years in my business, but now that I have it I am making great strides in uncommon hours.

    As far as the accountability partner, no worries there. My wife has that covered! She’s fantastic!

    PS. When are you going to go on the BP podcast? I’d love to listen to more about you and your business success.

    • That’s funny Jerry. I like having an “outsider” to help me stay on track. Most of us get enough “harassment” from our families.

      I’m not sure I’m interesting enough for a whole podcast, but I will have a great video interview coming up on my blog later this week with Brandon Turner so stay tuned. I have several really interesting people on my schedule to be interviewed. This Friday I will be interviewing a (non-real estate) expert on Youtube.

  3. One mistake in Real Estate investment is too many, and you can get wiped out with your life time savings.
    This article provide you the importance of Real Estate Investment mentoring and coaching.
    wow ! very well written and the message is very clear and precise.
    Mastermind group or local REI clubs can provide you the platform to learn, mingle and network with fellow Real Estate investors.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and looking forward to read your next article.

    Navtaj Chandhoke

  4. Not only in real estate, Accountability partner is very in any kind business activities but choosing accountability is toughest one because He/She should be reliable as well as knowledgeable and friendly. Thanks for your suggestions and tips, I am still trying to find one.

    • David –

      My accountability partner actually turned out to be someone in my mastermind group. This gal and I had a mutual online friend. It was this friend that actually suggested that we would be a good fit. She knew we were each looking for an AP.

      It’s really essential that you find someone that is a good fit, someone that is generally very motivated, and someone that will actually show up at the scheduled time every week. This is one of the biggest complaints I heard from folks; they didn’t show up or went missing for long periods of time.

      I think it’s also important that you genuinely like each other. My AP is doing some speaking now which includes some travel, so there are times we have to reschedule our meeting. But we do have it every week.

      We usually text our “small wins” as they happen and also our “frustrations” throughout the week. It’s pretty common now that we will speak for a short time more than once a week.

      This relationship has been tremendously helpful to both of us. Your accountability parter has to be someone that can be completely honest with you too and vice versa.

      I would think about who this person might be for you. My AP turned out to be someone that I knew only online by reputaton, and by communicating this way. Like your mastermind group, ideally this should be someone not in your immediate area.

      I hope this helps.

  5. Yes they do Jason. They apply to any business or even if you are making big changes in your personal ife. Whatever your “big goal”, it’s good to have someone to help you get there. I think real estate investors in particular need structure. These things are just some of the many tools we use.


  6. Great article, Sharon! I really like where you mention having a mutual beneficial relationship with a mentor. So many people think you can only get a mentor after you pay thousands of dollars for some of the professionals, but you’d be surprised how many experienced investors are willing to help out. Even if helping doesn’t put any money in their pocket, try to offer something in exchange for their help. Even if it’s dinner and drinks once a month! Ok, maybe not that casual, but don’t just ‘take’ in the relationship.

    • Sharon Vornholt

      Ali –

      That is the key to a successful relationship I believe. There is always somenthing you can give a mentor in return for their knowledge. I’m sure that like me, you also mentor folks all the time.

      Thanks for leaving your comments Ali.

  7. Jerry W.

    I would love to find a mastermind group , a mentor, and an AP. I am pretty far out in the middle of Wyoming so it would have to be phone or online. I am trying to take my real estate business to the next level but am a little unsure on how to streamline some of the things that take up so much of my time. Thank you Sharon for sharing your knowledge and time.

  8. Tim Miner

    I think the key benefit of a Mastermind Group as defined by Napoleon Hill in his book “Think and Grow Rich” (1937) is accountability. Since he did not trademark the name, every business coach trying to sell services calls their service a Mastermind Group and it is not.
    For us Real Estate investors, Mastermind is a key concept of sticking to the goals we have set for ourselves. Most of us don’t have a boss, or at least none that is in real estate and we need someone to hold us accountable for goals we set ourself. If you have set a goal to buy a property in the next three months, then your Mastermind Group member (no leaders!) will ask you how you are doing to reach that goal. This is not his/her goal, but yours that you stated at the last Mastermind meeting. This is a powerful framework.

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