3 Strategies to Fortify Your Real Estate Business Against Hard Financial Times

by | BiggerPockets.com

Today is a cold day, and when I say cold, I mean temperatures of -4 degrees. You know this Aussie is freezing. There are so many places I’d rather be than Toledo, Ohio — the Bahamas being #1! As I sit here freezing, I know it’s for a purpose: my family, and here the numbers just work, so my activity is focused on growing our business.

What some may not realize is that Real Estate is like a roller coaster. You get all the thrill and speed when deals are hot, but it also comes with the coasting part for when they’re not. So many young agents and investors, as business owners themselves, don’t know how to handle the times when things are lean. They experience the euphoria of cashing that commission check or getting the big deal across the table, and before they know it, the money is gone and they are right back to the start.

I say this because it has also happened to me. At one point I was up $300,000, and a few months later it was gone and I was eating peanut butter from a teaspoon. When I first started I thought that leveraging debt was the way to build an empire. I was over 1 million in debt, and due to economic situations I was barely getting by and I realized that my empire was FALSE!

Today when I work with investors, I stress safe investing and I also practice it. I also practice safe business ownership. Now, don’t get me wrong, I take risk and some of that does come with a high reward, but I also have fortified my ship. Gone are the days of eating peanut butter because I ensure that we have a safety in place for the lean times, and they do happen.

Related: Think Your Business Plan is Flawless? Don’t Forget This Key Element!

Today I share with you my top three strategies to fortify any business!

How I Bought, Rehabbed, Rented, Refinanced, and Repeated for 14 Rental Properties

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3 Strategies to Fortify Your Real Estate Business

1. Keep Costs Low and Drive Revenue

No matter how much you are making, no matter how big the deposits into your bank account get, keep the costs of operating your business low. If you rent office space, find the smallest possible office you can handle with the cheapest rent for your area, and don’t move until you literally have people taking up floor space. Keep your focus on bringing in the revenue. Get free pens from the bank if you have to. Use every aspect of social media to help your business grow, and post regularly. I made my first million from a 200 sq ft office shared by 3 other people!

2. Keep the Momentum Going

When you have it, you have it, but how do you keep it going? Focus on the little things, and don’t stop because you think you’ve made it. Keep up with your daily routine every single day. No excuses. So many of us will go out and close a few deals and be so high from that feeling of accomplishment that we stop. We think we deserve a day off or a vacation because it’s been so long.

Related: Why Your Real Estate Business Should Mean More to You Than A Way to Simply Make Money

In my experience, that day you want to take off is the most important to be in the office and meeting with clients; our energy is intoxicating, it rubs off, and people want to do business with high energy people. Don’t let it get away. That is momentum, and you must follow it because it always leads to better things. Take the vacation later when the iron is cold, but while it’s hot, KEEP THE FOCUS!

3. Don’t Spend it All!

So you’ve made some money, happy days! Don’t spend it all… always know or think that leaner times are ahead. Put some in reserve. Trust me on this one. My office rent is paid for the entire next year. So are the utilities, and even payroll is set aside to cover expenses just in case something strange happens. What I mean here is simple. You must take care of the business, yourself and the people around you that make it all happen before anything else. No lavish vacations, no new car, no new wardrobe and expensive dinners.

Don’t get me wrong here — get what you need, but please understand the difference. It took me a while to do this!

To wrap this up: Real estate is a business of ups and downs. Plan accordingly, and you’ll be able to weather any storm that comes your way. Do the right things with the right people in the right way, and you’ll be surprised at where you’ll end up — possibly on the beach in the Bahamas with me, The Real Estate Dingo!

Investors: What strategies do you use to safeguard your business against the hard times? 

Leave me a comment, and let’s talk!

About Author

Engelo Rumora

Engelo Rumora, a.k.a.”the Real Estate Dingo,” quit school at the age of 14 and played professional soccer at the age of 18. From there, he began to invest in real estate. He now owns real estate all over the world and has bought, renovated, and sold over 500 properties. He runs runs Ohio Cashflow, a turnkey real estate investment company in the country (Inc 5000 2017 & 2018) and is currently in the process of launching a real estate brokerage called List’n Sell Realty. He is also known for giving houses away to people in need and his crazy videos on YouTube. His mission in life is to be remembered as someone that gave it his all and gave it all away.


    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Bennet,

      Thanks or your comment.

      It sure was a cramped space 🙂

      Look at it this way to, we were only paying $250pm for it and our entire operating costs (not including renovation expenses and acquisitions) were no more than $20,000 for the year.

      We did $1.4m in revenue from April until the end of 2014.

      No need for big overheads.

      One of our partners does $20m in revenue and I swear it doesn’t cost him more than $300pw to run it (not including 2 salaries) lol

      Collect the $$$ and then spend it wisely.

      Now we have a bigger office and all kinds of budgets 🙂


  1. Iverem Rose

    Great words of wisdom Engelo! I think the best way an investor can keep track of financials is to create a budget and stick to it so that they know a percentage of your profits will go solely back into their business, a percentage will aside to cover personal expenses, and so on.

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Iverem,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I was checking into our accounts 5 times per day.

      I wanted to know where every single dollar was going.

      Keep it very very tight until you get a brake through.

      Then you can loose up a bit.

      Just my opinion.

      Thanks and have a great day.

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Sharon,

      Thanks for your comment.

      100% agreed.

      I have a big sign above my desk saying “Pay Your Dues”.

      Haven’t paid mine yet so I don’t deserve anything.

      When you purpose is full filled, then you will know if and what you deserve.

      Thanks and have a great day.

  2. Aaron Brown

    Awesome post Engelo! I especially love #3- it’s so important to live BELOW your means, both personally and professionally and save up reserves for the hard times. Much better way to go than living paycheck to paycheck, even if it means sacrificing day by day in the near term.

    I’m all about delayed gratification!

  3. karen rittenhouse

    Have a big enough “why”.
    When your goal is to build something big for the future (AH-mazing early retirement!), those sacrifices today are not nearly so painful (no Starbucks, small office space, lousy car).

    Next, be flexible and diversify. Right now, the market is hot and selling is working again so we’re wholesaling like crazy. However, when selling was impossible, our hold properties (the rentals) paid the bills. Focus where it’s working, and know that your business is headed for a shift because, if you’re in real estate, you’re always headed for a market/economy shift.


    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Loving your view on diversification.

      This is one reason why we set up in house Realty, PM and looking to franchise our turnkey model into Michigan and Indiana.

      Not missed opportunities with such operations.

      Along with all this I have 2 personal ventures going that are non RE related lol 😉

      Bust days ahead for sure.

      Thanks and have a great weekend.

  4. Alex Craig

    In good or bad times, I have always said taking advantage of reward points offered by CC companies is a good way to get discounts on hotel and airfare. One of the biggest savings in my company is gas rewards. For example, our grocery store offers discounts on gas based on dollars spent in their store. This grocery store also sells Gift Cards, so we will buy HD gift cards $1,000 a time. Each time we fill up, we pay $1.00 less then list price. Last week, I filled up for .83 a gallon (23 gallons my truck) and had my project manager come in behind me before I hung up the gas pump too. I was able to fill up by full size V8 truck for $19.09 (I get 12 miles to the gallon) and my project managers car for $10.79 (he gets 55 MPG). 2 cars, for under $30.

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I will definitely check it out.

      We buy Subway gift cards and all that jazz but that’s more for the purpose for making bookkeeping easier.

      Spirit Airlines is awesome IMO also.

      I am flying from Detroit to Dallas and back next weekend for like $120 lol

      Thanks and have a great day.

  5. Mark F.

    Hard times are a good reason not to get too leveraged with too much debt. When times are rockin’ having a big loan may not seem like a big deal, but if you have trouble getting a property rented, it can become your biggest nemesis.

  6. I totally agree with this article. Being a real estate investor does have its tough times, namely earning money sporadically. Keeping overhead low and spending at a minimum so you can survive during the worst of times is key.

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