The 10 Stages of the Successful Real Estate Entrepreneur

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This will be one of those “mindset” posts of which I’m not normally a fan, but I recognize for myself (and others) that everything you do starts in the mind and your success is determined by your thoughts and actions.

So having the right mindset is just as important as taking action.

When we do anything worth doing in life, whether it’s starting a real estate investing business, getting married, or taking a new job across country, it requires a dream followed by the courage to take action.

I’ve observed based on my own experience and other successful entrepreneurs, that we go through 10 stages from “start-up” to success with a lot of challenges in between.

Understanding these stages gives us the proper perspective when we’re experiencing setbacks and keeps us going until we experience the break-through.

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1. Drifting

If we’re drifting through life, that means we’re happy enough but really don’t have any aspirations. We’re meeting expectations and getting the job done. We see other people doing stuff and being successful, and we want that too, but we’re not really willing to try to get there.We’re comfortable, afraid, or too busy.

Most beginning real estate investors are stuck in this phase.

2. Discontent

There comes a point when some of us, but by no means all of us, develop a certain“discontent” with our situation. We realize that our life is not really fulfilled, and we yearn for something more. We start feeling fed up with our J.O.B. and the sheer hopelessness we feel in our lives.

One day we wake up and want to do something about it.

3. Dream

That’s when we develop a dream of what could be. We start dreaming of doing our first real estate deal, and maybe we can even see ourselves owning 10 rental properties that would replace the income from our job – we can see early retirement!

That would allow us to do the things we really want: pursue a hobby, spend more time with our families, travel more, give back … whatever our passions are. We can see us taking chances and living life to the fullest.

4. Decision

This dream really appeals to us, and more importantly, we can visualize it happening, and it starts to become real for us. Coupled with our strong discontent, we decide to take action.

This is an important step, because this is where we commit ourselves to the dream. We tell others about it, and start putting ourselves out there. In our mind, we are prepared to put in the time, effort, and money to get us there.

5. Take Action

We decided to take action, but we probably also feel overwhelmed. If our dream is to own 10 rental properties so that we can retire early, we may be completely overwhelmed at the prospect.

Where are we going to find that many deals? How are we going to manage that many properties? Where are we going to get all of this money?

What I do to get past this step is to simply focus on the next three things I need to do. I may have that long list of to-do’s, but I quickly put it away, and just work on the next three things I know I need to do. These three things may take me a week or two to complete.

When I’m done, I look up briefly and write down the next three. After a couple of months, I look up again to survey the landscape, and I am amazed at what I have accomplished!

This step is by far the most difficult to get past because we’re afraid of failing. We can see us doing a bunch of stuff and losing our shirt. What will our friends and family say? How will that make us feel?

6. Faith

This is where we must have FAITH. Faith in ourselves, faith in others, and maybe even faith in something bigger than us. Regardless of what you call it or what your spiritual disposition is, ALL successful entrepreneurs act on faith – over and over again.

Faith in this context means that you are willing to take the first step on a worthwhile journey without any guarantee of success.

7. Open Doors

I have repeatedly found that if we take that first step in faith, doors will start opening, almost magically and without explanation. We may marvel at these open doors, but our job is to simply continue walking through them. More doors start to open and we experience some early success which affirms our decision to take action.

I challenge you to try this one time if you have not already.

In this stage, we feel a bit giddy with our early success.

8. Challenges

Then we start getting challenges: things take longer than we thought, there are setbacks and discouragements.

When I first got started with flipping houses, my decision to take action was validated quickly because I got my first deal off my first postcard campaign. Wow! It was amazing! While I was busy rehabbing this first house I continued with my marketing, and …. nothing.

For months, all I got was calls from tire kicker sellers who wanted to see how much I would pay them.

9. Dead End

When the challenges, setbacks, and delays mount, we can become discouraged and maybe even give up hope. This is a great sign! Because that means we are about to experience our break-through.

But when we’re in this phase, it is really really hard to keep going because nothing is going according to plan. This is where we must persist. Think about how we got to this point: we acted on our discontent and dream, and we were affirmed by some early successes.

So we know that we’re on the right path.

Many people who get this far (which is already impressive!) simply give up in this stage.

As I talk to other entrepreneurs, time and time again they say that they were about to give up but through some miracle they kept going just for a little while longer.

10. Break-Through

And suddenly, they experience a break-through.

In my case, I did get that elusive 2nd deal, but it took 9 months. And then I got a third shortly after, and then a 4th. Had I given up after the 6th month, I would not have had the experience I have now.

The 10 stages of the successful entrepreneur is an interesting phenomenon that I’ve observed again and again. While not all stages MUST be experienced, they often are in some way or another.

Understanding, accepting, and embracing these 10 stages is essential for achieving anything worthwhile in life, and they are especially important to being a successful real estate entrepreneur

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
Photo Credit: paul bica

About Author

Michael Blank

Michael Blank is a leading authority on apartment building investing in the United States. He’s passionate about helping others become financially free in 3-5 years by investing in apartment building deals with a special focus on raising money. Through his investment company, he controls over $30MM in performing multifamily assets all over the United States and has raised over $8MM. In addition to his own investing activities, he’s helped students purchase over 2,000 units valued at over $87MM. He’s the author of the best-selling book Financial Freedom With Real Estate Investing and the host of the popular Apartment Building Investing podcast Apartment Building Investing podcast.


  1. Michael, I can’t thank you enough for this post at this time. I’m almost to the break-through, currently in the challenge phase and this was just the encouragement I needed! I recognize every phase you talked about and I have gone through all of them. I’ll keep plugging until I reach that last one, thanks again 🙂

  2. Hey The Blank, another great article! I can identify with all of these steps.

    One thing I’d like to add is that I, and maybe others, haven’t gone through them just once. It seems like I go through them every time I want to add to/expand/scale up my business model. They may go faster because of past experience, but they’re still there in some form.

    Of course, since we had the same coach that may increase the likelihood of going through the same steps. 🙂

    Anyone else find that they repeat some these steps as they grow?

  3. Hmm, I thought everyone started with those late night Carlton Sheets commercials.

    So the steps are:

    Excitement of becoming a millionaire with one deal (babes, boats, billions).
    Disappointment after we realize we have been had, we need more guru info.
    Eventually we max out the credit cards and our significant other is in tears.
    To get out of the dog house we take action, buying 2 properties each month until we are overwhelmed.
    Sell off the bad to pay off the good.
    Find a management company and get our lives back.
    Live happily ever after, thanking Carlton Sheets?

  4. Michael

    Great post, my story is similar to the story you’ve laid out here. My first flip (went in with a partner) and I lost around $10k. The house got robbed, and we mis-judged the market. My first solo deal also got robbed, and although I was able to turn a moderate profit it took me 4 months to sell, and my first 3 contracts fell through for various reasons. For what its worth, neither house was in a bad area. I never REALLY thought about quitting, but I did doubt myself quite a bit. Since then, ive done 20 or so deals, and although I am by no means a real estate mogul, Im glad I do what I do for a living, and glad I didn’t give up.

  5. This is so true about the stages you discuss. I am currently going thru some major gut checks about this business. But knowing that this is what I need to do, it is going to get me where I want to be, and it is my true desire, especially with the personal circumstances that I have to overcome. You have hit home with your statement Michael!

  6. Thanks Michael!

    Another great post. It seemed like you are telling my story. I am stuck at # 9 and waiting for my break-through. Hopefully it will come sooner that later. One thing is for sure that nothing happens until we take action.
    Thanks again

    • Michael Blank

      I’ve found that sometimes stage takes the longest (unfortunately). But if we remind ourselves why we started the journey (and make sure it’s still relevant!), then we have no choice to persist until either the doors are closed for us (also an option!) or we get the break-through.

  7. I really can relate to the stages. It seems like I have been at your 6th month for way too long. It seems so much easier to give up rather than push ahead. To fight the fears or uncertainty takes a lot more, but a more rewarding future lies ahead. Thank You for the break down of stages. It makes me look ahead at the rewards that will come with the perseverance.

  8. Bravo for this article!! For someone new to investing and who is now changing careers after being in IT for 17yrs – I am now on step 6 and 7. This article really hit close to home and has given me confidence in knowing I’m still going in the right direction!

  9. Great post! It’s funny how when you continually take action, you just seem to create your own good luck and opportunity. Sure, there’s setbacks, but just as you said, if you give up you’re guaranteed to fail and lose out on your dream. Keep pressing ahead and keep correcting as needed, you’ll get there eventually!

  10. What a fantastic article!! Thank you so much for spelling out the steps. I’ve been blogging my own steps and it’s so amazing to hear someone else went through these stages. I’m currently working on transitioning from Faith to Open Doors (6 to 7). It’s very helpful to know the steps ahead of me as well.

  11. For someone that doesn’t like mindset posts you wrote a pretty dang good one!

    I had not thought of things in these kind of stages but like others have said I see where I’ve lived them, and still am.
    Pretty cool stuff.

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