Hustle: The Single Most Important Factor to Finding Real Estate Deals

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“Slow feet don’t eat.” —Anonymous

“If you don’t want a 9-5, be prepared to hustle 24-7.” —Anonymous

The question or complaint I hear more than any other is this: how do I find and buy good deals? Especially for new investors, this problem seems insurmountable at times.

Without discounting all of the wonderful information, tactics, and strategies I read (and that I write) here on BiggerPockets, I have news for you.

Finding good deals is 10% tactic, 90% hustle.

In other words, what you know or learn from others is only a small part of the equation. How much you are willing to bust your tail, hustle, and apply what you learn makes the biggest difference.

When I first started investing, I had nothing but my dream and my hustle. I knew I had no capital or wisdom to contribute.

But I had a secret. I knew from experience playing football at Clemson University that nothing could compete with hustle. I started for 3 years as a middle linebacker, when many more talented players sat the bench. I had good physical talent, but I had an extraordinary ability to hustle. It made all the difference.

Think of hustling as hard work with intense passion and focus. Hustling often makes me think of an anonymous quote I learned as an athlete in college:

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion, or it will be killed. Every morning, a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle, or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle. When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.

For several years as a brand new, full-time real estate entrepreneur, I truly felt like the gazelle. If I didn’t hustle from the time I woke up until the time I fell asleep, the financial lions might catch me.

I don’t want to spend my whole life as a gazelle (see my plan for financial independence), but this gazelle-like hustle is a mindset and a skill that I lean on whenever times get tough. You can, too.

5 Tips to Step Up Your Hustle & Do More Real Estate Deals

The good news about hustle is that you can control how much you do it. It is all within your head. To help you hustle more, starting today, I am going to share 5 tips that have helped me.

1. Take care of the hustler.

One of my favorite entrepreneurs and philosophers is Brian Johnson over at Entheos. Brian says that his greatest asset as an entrepreneur is his own consciousness.

This relates to hustle because you are the CHO (Chief Hustling Officer) of your little business. You will certainly build a team (building a team for a fix-flip business), but the pace of your work and your progress will always start with your mindset and your example.

Related: Real Estate Investing Hustle: An Inspirational Story

Because hustling is grinding and emotionally taxing, you have to take care of yourself first and foremost. Your consciousness, or stated another way, your daily attitude and energy, will be the foundation that sustains you.

So, it helps to deliberately create habits that will provide a foundation for your attitude and your energy. Here are are the fundamentals I use to take care of the Chief Hustling Officer in my business:

  • Good Night of Sleep: I made it a goal this year to get 7 hours of sleep per night. This has been a weakness of mine in the past, so I decided to prioritize and track it.
  • Nutrition: Our nutrition gives us the energy we need to hustle. I like to focus on the fundamentals. Drink lots of water. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Eat few refined foods.
  • Exercise: Studies have shown that exercise actually helps beat depression (Harvard Medical School and WebMD). It also helps you to think better, and it boosts your energy. I try to do some sort of movement, small or large, for at least 15 minutes daily.
  • Meditation: My daily morning ritual includes doing a session of focused breathing for at least 7 minutes. This breathing meditation reduces stress, calms my mind, and puts me in an optimal mood to start hustling for the day. Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Herbert Benson shows that a “relaxation response” like that from meditation reduces stress and has many other positive health benefits.
  • Inspiration: I like to regularly read and study stories, blogs, and biographies about other people hustling, facing adversity, and moving forward. This inspiration gives me the “proof” that anything is possible and that my own struggles are normal.

You probably have your own routines to take care of yourself.  My point here is to prioritize and ritualize whatever your personal fundamentals are so that you can be at your best and hustle more.


2. Focus on your “why.”

A TED Talk by Simon Sinek brilliantly explains the power of starting with the question “Why.” Here is a quote from part of his talk:

Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY, I mean your purpose, cause or belief. WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

Your personal “Why” is the inner, emotional motivator that will keep you hustling day in and day out. Your business also has a “Why,” and it is the core service and benefits that your customers need from you.

When I choose to stay focused on my “Why,” the daily energy available for my own business hustle is astounding. My “Why” drives and motivates me, and it directly translates into many significant goals and projects.

So, take the time to think about your own “Why.” It is not something you create. It is a passion already inside of you that you uncover. When you rediscover it and tap its limitless energy reserves, no amount of hustle will be too much.

3. Face your fear.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” —Nelson Mandela

We are all afraid, but fear becomes a monster when you lock it in a closet and never look at it. The way to conquer fear is to face it directly.

So, what fear keeps you from hustling and moving forward in real estate investing?

Whatever comes to mind, write it down.

Are you afraid of losing money? Are you afraid of what other people will think if you fail? Are you afraid that you’re not good enough or smart enough? Are you afraid that you don’t know enough?

Now that you’ve written down your fears, write down a plan of action to conquer that fear.

If you’re afraid of losing money, for example, write down 3 actions you will take to make sure you don’t lose money. Here are three that came to mind for me.

  1. I will always run my deals by my mentor and business partner before moving forward.
  2. I will memorize the good deal formula for buying flips or for buying rentals.
  3. I will spend 3 hours this week studying sold and rental comps so that I am more confident of the numbers in my market.

If you’re like me, when you translate that fear into written, specific actions, the fear doesn’t disappear, but it no longer controls you. Now that you are back in control, you can move forward and let your hustle take over.

4. Prioritize and focus.

An enemy of hustle is distraction and overcommitment; therefore, it pays to clearly set priorities so that you can focus your enthusiasm and energy.

As I elaborated on in my epic article, “How to Quit Your Job & Invest in Real Estate Full Time: The Final Steps,” I like to have a planning session each Sunday to prioritize my week before I start hustling.

I make a list of the 10 top results I hope to achieve that week (“The List of 10”). I have MANY more results that I could put on there, but this list forces me to narrow my focus by asking the question:

If I achieved only one result this entire week, which would I want it to be?

I answer that question 10 times, and the answers become my priority list for the week. Each morning and throughout each day, I use the “List of 10” as a reference point to keep me focused and on task.

I don’t always accomplish all 10 results, but if I truly hustle and give 100% effort, I’ll often check every result off the list by the end of the week. What a satisfying visual at the end of the week to see all of the items completed!

In the big picture, if I can combine prioritizing and hustle by stringing 2 weeks, then 2 months, and then 2 years of consistently hustling and checking items off my list, the results I want will take care of themselves. It is almost inevitable that I’ll do lots deals, make lots of profits, build lots of wealth, and eventually become financially free!


5. If all else fails, just do these everyday.

As Nike says, “Just Do It.” If you want to forget the rest and start taking action, here are some recommendations for actions you could take today (and everyday) to buy more deals:

  • Call 10 Craigslist ads in the “For Rent” and “For Sale” section and ask yes/no questions. These questions could include:
    • “Are you interested in selling instead of renting?”
    • “Would you be willing to sell for what you owe?” (after some discussion)
    • “If you could get cash and a quick closing, would you sell for less than your asking price? What’s your bottom line?”
  • Send 100 letters to a list of out-of-town owners.
  • Walk your target neighborhood, knock on doors, talk to neighbors, hand out cards, and ask people if they know of someone trying to sell a house.
  • Hand out 15 “We Buy Houses” business cards.
  • Make an offer on an MLS listing that is an REO or listed below full value.

The point here is to make a list, get specific, and then get busy! Hustle is all about focused, passionate action. These are all high priority actions that could lead to deals if you just do enough of them.

Related: Why You’re Building Wealth the SLOW Way (and 3 Ways to Fix That!)

Early in my career, I had very little skill or knowledge, but I would take lists like these and just fill my days with action. I would make a game to see how fast I could check everything off my list.

Can you make a game of your hustle? Can you challenge a friend or colleague and see who can get their list done first?

If it’s fun and if it taps into your “Why” (see tip #2), then you’re more likely to stick to it.

The Lost Art of Hustle

I often wonder why hustle is a lost art. Why don’t more people realize the missing link between hustle and success? Is it because the concept is too simple? Are we conditioned for quick results, like a cheeseburger in the drive-thru at McDonalds?

Maybe it is because hustle proves that success is painful and requires hard work. Mediocre life is too comfortable. It is much easier to surf the internet, complain, and make excuses.

But all of the great achievers, from Michael Jordan to Warren Buffett to Nelson Mandela, have followed the strenuous path of hustle.

If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.” —Michelangelo

In the end, if you are willing to grow, to face discomfort, and to hustle, you really won’t have a lot of competition. While everyone else is looking for shortcuts or quick fixes, you will be sprinting like a gazelle.

Maybe hustle will always be a lost art. Maybe that is the way it should be.

So, are you ready to start hustling? I will see you out there running from those lions.

We’re republishing this article to help out our newer readers.

What do you think? Do you have any other tips for hustling? What top activities do you hustle on each week to ensure you do more deals?

Let’s help each other out with tricks and tips in the comments below!

About Author

Chad Carson

Chad Carson is an entrepreneur, writer, and teacher who used real estate investing to reach financial independence before the age of 37. He wrote an Amazon best-selling book Retire Early With Real Estate, and his story has been a featured on Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Business Insider,, the BiggerPockets Podcast, How to Money, ChooseFI, and more. Chad and his business partner currently focus on long-term rental properties and private lending in and around the college town of Clemson, South Carolina. Their portfolio of 90+ units includes houses, small multi-unit apartments, and mobile homes. In 2003, Chad and his business partner began real estate investing from scratch. They started by wholesaling and fixing-and-flipping properties. They also learned to rely on non-conventional financing sources like private lending, seller financing, and lease options, which remains their expertise today. After surviving the 2007-2009 real estate downturn (with scars to prove it!), they transitioned to more of a focus on student rentals. You can find more of Chad's writing (as well as podcast episodes) at


  1. Mitch Coluzzi

    Well written article Chad! 100% agree with the advice. You’re spot on, so many people see the end result without understanding the time, passion, and sacrifice that goes into true hustle.

    “Live today like no one else will, so you can live tomorrow like no one else can.”

    • Chad Carson

      Thanks Mitch! I love your quote about living like no one else. I’ve heard that achievers also spend a lot of time with a future orientation (versus complaining about the present or the past). So planting seeds of hustle and sacrifice today will bear fruit when you “live like no one else can” in the future. I appreciate you sharing.

    • Chad Carson

      Awesome, Gloria! What’s your top 10 list for this week? Here’s mine:

      1. Write this blog post (done!)
      2. Choose and order floors for a big rehab we’re doing
      3. Prepare and email an agenda for a meeting I’m leading
      4. Create a final punch list for a property we’re about to list for sale.
      5. Meet seller and get a new deal under contract that I got a verbal “yes” on.
      6. Send photos of a rehab project to a landscape architect friend for advice on landscaping
      7. Order new business cards (I’m out!)
      8. Begin my 2014 bookkeeping year-end checklist (on Bookkeeping Day – Thursday)
      9. Order 2014 Christmas gifts for private lenders and other business relationships
      10. Create rough draft of a new lease

      I’m behind on some of these, but I think I’ll at least get 7 out of 10. Maybe more:)

      Anyone else want to share their list?

  2. Alex T.

    Thanks, very inspiring article. I think part of what makes hustling hard is that fact that you don’t see the reward right away. We’ve been conditioned to expect immediate results, and when it comes to working for yourself, that’s often not the case. It’s the ambiguity that makes this hard, knowing that you could be doing all the right things, but see no apparent improvement, at least initially.

    • Chad Carson

      Great point. It takes a lot of trust in yourself and in the process because the tangible rewards are uncertain. I have tried to brainwash myself a bit so that the reward is the process itself. The hustle is the fun part, so then I do get an immediate award:) I know, sort of nuts.

  3. Larry Russell

    Another excellent blog post that’s very inspirational and packed with actionable steps for the newbie and the seasoned investor. I love the quote, “Finding good deals is 10% tactic, 90% hustle.” I consider Real Estate investing my primary “hustle” to enable me to position myself to quit my full-time job if and when I choose. I’m steady working to eliminate all distractions and put a system in place to grow my business at an accelerated pace. (1) I’m working to increase my on-line presence, (2) working to establish a solid process and procedure for analyzing deals, and (3) developing a system to submit multiple offers and close on those that fit my criteria.

  4. David Chwaszczewski

    Great Job Chad! Your top 10 list is PRICELESS advice. There are so many times in the beginning of the week I think i am hustling, then at the end of week I didn’t get much done because i didn’t have much of a plan or list. #1 on my new list this week is add a top 10 list to my weekly calendar so i can track my hustle!

    Thanks Coach Carson!

  5. Thanks for the very inspiring article Chad. Motivation is so important and your hustle comes through in your writing. I especially like the part about taking care of the hustler. I sometimes let the excuse of making sure I get enough sleep or take the time to exercise get in the way of my part time work on real estate investing but it’s important to remember if I lay out my time and schedule properly it’s possible to get it all done. Checklists and blocking off time for specific tasks are valuable tools. Thanks for reminding me of that and getting me motivated to hustle!

  6. Spencer Shadrach

    This is great!!!
    Here is something I like to envision each week and remind myself to get a vision, write it down, take action each and every day!

    No vision = total failure
    limited action = little success
    a Vision – a plan – action = a dream
    a Vision + a plan – action = a haunted dream
    A Vision + a plan + action = Success
    Big vision + a strategic plan + persistent & consistent action = Massive Success

  7. Shaun Reilly

    Wow this is awesome!
    Love the list of things to do for yourself. I actually was very disciplined about doing a very similar list of daily habits about a year ago. Got off track with it and keep thinking I should get back to that.
    I think this will give me a little kick in the butt to do that again.

    Overall the idea of hustling (and doing it in a smart and focused way) is definitely a separating factor between those that do great and those that fall short of their dreams.

  8. robbie knecht

    Great post chad! I just got done listening to the podcast 141 that you were on and that you gave a plug to this article. I gotta say this was great! Im going to start making my top 10 list! One of them including knocking on doors until I hand out 15 business cards to people. Also, Leaving my business card everywhere I go.
    Great article Thank you!

  9. Valerie Fulford

    Wow! FANTASTIC article. I started educating myself in RE one year ago and did my first campaign this past July (NO follow-up plan I might add) and now here I am in November and haven’t done my first deal yet. All along, I’ve been changing my mindset, listening to Grant Cardone (10X Rule), Anthony Robbins, reading Brendon Burchard (Motivation Manifesto), and it dawned on me just last month that I’m not used to hard work. Things have always just worked out for me to where I’m comfortable. Hustle has always had a negative (deals in the back alley) sound to me. But I’m learning, in order to be successful, every business owner has to hustle. We have to be willing to work hard, put ourselves out there, make sacrifices, stay focused and push through resistance, whether internal or external. And for a person whose always had enough to keep me comfortable, 99.9% of the resistance is internal. Time to pass out business cards, make some cold calls and knock on some doors.


  10. Lauren Powell

    Fantastic, motivating article! I also graduated from Clemson — a BS in BioSci and a minor in Anthro — but I’m a newbie around here and just learning this kind of hustle. Finding happiness in the journey and day to day hustle as well as looking toward financial independence are part of my “why.” Looking forward to receiving your newsletter. GO TIGERS!

  11. John Murray

    I’m a multimillionaire entrepreneur. Most employees think that it is all about money. Entrepreneurs know it is all about time. Money is the result of time worked, not time not worked. Skill level is a direct result of perseverance and education. Education is valuable if you actually learned something valuable. Value and success is tangible and can be measured. Just look at your net worth, does it reflect your skill level and success? If it does not you are an employee and you have not followed the path of your full potential. For those of the employee category perhaps this is your place, and you are happy with your life. For those of us that are not employees, we are free and work harder than employees and love every second of our work. Happy New Year and success entrepreneurs!

    • Kimberly W.

      Thank you John for an insightful view from the other side. I look forward to meeting you there…

      I love the hard work. It’s like going to the gym and focusing on what needs improving. It requires focus, discipline, consistency and conviction that the work will produce the desired results. It doesn’t happen the first time you lift the weight, it doesn’t happen the next week but by the 3rd week, you start seeing some results, by the end of the year you will be rewarded for your effort and consistency. Loving the process is crucial otherwise you give up and the result will never come.

  12. Millie H.

    Nice article Chad! The Hustle really has everything to do with success. The universe likes to see action. Someone once told me, “this business is SIMPLE but don’t confuse that with EASY.” What he meant by that was, the single most important thing was to Do IT. Action accounts for the situations that create success.

  13. Cale Ferguson

    Awesome write up. I myself am also convinced of this idea. It is absolute garbage that anyone will achieve great success by doing very little. I believe though, the “difficulty” and “hard work” of achieving great things almost becomes automatic and becomes this “hustle” you are describing, once we are filled with enough inspiration. Good stuff.

  14. Thanks for this great article Chad! Your articles always boost up my morale to do more. I strongly believe that “If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes the sacrifice”.
    Keep sharing such posts in future because your ideas have always helped me a lot in improving my business.

  15. David Rohr

    Thanks for sharing Chad! Hustle is the name of the game. Sometimes, we feel the need to be overtly prepared before GETTING STARTED and ACTUALLY putting time into action. It should not be that way. I’ve heard that 80 percent of success is achieved by showing up, so it’s important to TAKE ACTION. I’ll start my 10 weekly goals next week. Keep sharing this insightful posts!

  16. Juan Rubio

    Wow great article Chad! very inspiriting and motivational. I now understand the power of hustling and why I need to wake up tomorrow and hustle until I achieve great success. please don’t stop sharing insightful posts like this one!

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