Real Estate Investing Rules from Richard Branson

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“Even after careful research, not all ideas are good; sometimes your competitors have better ideas or they’re faster than you. The modern entrepreneur takes failure in his or her stride and moves on.” ~ Richard Branson, Screw It, Let’s Do It

Sir Richard Branson made a cameo appearance on the HBO show Entourage this week and it got me thinking about him and the life he leads. I actually had the pleasure of listening to him speak last year in a room of only a few hundred other entrepreneurs and the thing that stuck with me the most is how simple he keeps things. With hundreds of companies to run, I don’t think you could live life any other way. And a few nights ago as I contemplated what to write today, I thought about the life lessons he shared in one of his books, and how those can be applied to real estate (and should be applied for successful – and simple –  investing success!). I mean – think about it – every house you buy is essentially a small business with it’s own target market of customers to rent or buy from you, it’s own expenses and it’s own marketing needs. So if you have hundreds of houses then it’s, in a smaller way, like Richard Branson owning hundreds of companies.

Now – not to worry – I’m not going to relive each and every lesson in an effort to motivate you to get off your duff and start taking action towards your real estate investing goals. I did think I would share my favourite five lessons from the book and apply them to real estate investing … but guess what … lesson #1 is basically just that:

Lesson #1: Just Do It

I really can’t say it any better than Sir Richard does:

“If you really want to do something, just do it. Whatever your goal is you will never succeed unless you let go of your fears and fly.”

Lesson #2: Be Bold but Don’t Gamble

As a real estate investor you have to take some bold steps. There is always uncertainty as you can never really know exactly what will happen but there is a big difference between gambling and taking calculated risks. Calculated risks are things you’ve thought through and mitigated in whatever way possible. A gamble is just taking a leap of faith that it will all work out. If you aren’t sure what the difference is or how to mitigate risks there are some great posts kicking around BiggerPockets that can give you a good basis of real estate investing fundamentals like:

Lesson #3: Have Fun! Life is Too Short to Be Unhappy

I guess his passion for fun is why they featured Sir Richard Branson sandwiched between two beautiful blondes on Sunday night’s episode but I don’t think you have to find two beautiful people to go bowling with to make your life complete. I think that as a real estate investor you have to make sure you take time out for your family, your friends, and your fun time. This probably sounds a bit silly for people who are getting into real estate for the free time it gives you – but the reality is that many investors that are working to really get their business rolling also find themselves working all the time to keep up with everything they are trying to do.

Keep things simple. Focus on WHY you are doing what you are doing and remind yourself it’s not about owning more houses than the next guy or being the richest woman in your book club it’s about creating the life of your dreams and then living it!!

Lesson #4: Have Respect

I’m not going to tell you all the times we’ve been cheated by folks in the real estate business but it has been more than once. And it’s been by just about everyone you can think of from the property manager that robbed rent money from us to the tenant that worked the system so well she got three months free rent from us, and of course our joint venture partner that ditched out on a deal at the very last minute leaving us holding on to a pretty big potential problem.

There are people out there that don’t live by this rule but I believe that it’s one of the most important in all your dealings … treat others with respect. Just because a seller is in distress does not mean it’s open season to take advantage of them. Find a good solution for them and for you.

If you are doing something that will haunt you at night – stop – and don’t do it.

I believe what goes around comes around and karma is a big witch. 🙂

Lesson #5: Do things with POW/Shazam

To me, no entrepreneur embodies this more than Sir Richard himself – but you don’t have to rappel down the side of a sky scraper to do things a little differently. Real estate investors can take a page out of his book simply by trying to solve problems with a unique approach. Just because a deal has never been done the way you want to do it – does not mean it’s not possible. I can’t tell you how many times a real estate agent has told us “you can’t do that” only to learn that it’s possible and actually pretty easy with the right lawyer. Folks who’ve been in the business for decades aren’t always the best ones to listen to -many of them are pretty set in their ways as to how things are to be done. Come at things with a little pizzaz – try different angles to solve your problems.

“Sometimes when you start from scratch with a clean sheet of paper, with the principle of keeping things simple, you get results that wouldn’t be possible by leaving it to the so-called experts.” ~ Richard Branson, Screw it, Let’s Do It.

Every property you buy can be considered it’s own small business  – so maybe these little lessons from the worlds most interesting and inspirational entrepreneur (in my opinion) might help you enjoy your life, find more success and have a little more fun with every single deal.
Image Credit: Ftvkun

About Author

Buy and hold real estate investing in Canada since 2001, Julie Broad is now a full time real estate investor and investing educator.


  1. I think I’m in love w/ Bigger Pockets. All the writers contribute these great posts that I find extremely relevant to students! This one was really similar to Lamar’s post several days ago on the success/failure of businesses.

    These are important things for people to keep in mind regardless if they are in industry, searching for work, or even students. My personal passion is helping out others like me (students) and i definitely think all the concepts here are tenets motivated students should be living by. Thank you for putting into words what young people like me need to hear!

    As I asked Lamar, I run a student blog where I hope to share some of the pearls of wisdom i pick up (such as the above) w/ my peers. I tend to read interesting things online, and see a way to spin them so that the focus is shifted to how those principles can be applied to the professional development of students. Would you mind if i ran a series of posts writing an expanded “student” version of each of your points? One a week, w/ proper citations (to keep Josh happy :)) as well as links back to your main blog and your posts here? If not I will totally understand. Hope your OK with it though – I really think students could benefit from this sort of guidance while still in school.

  2. Hey Julie — Some real nuggets from you today.

    Possibly, keepin’ it simple is what might make the difference for many, in any endeavor. Back in the day, Dad ran his six office real estate company, including an in-house escrow, with one checkbook. In one five year period, they closed over 5,000 sides! I’m still amazed that was all done on one checkbook.

    Though you and I differ on the whole ‘diving into it’ approach, I think it’s safe to say, it’s probably only in degree. Good stuff.

    • WOW!! That is pretty incredible about your Dad. We have a different bank account for every property – which is quite a few checkbooks in our office!! I am amazed. I would love to learn how your Dad did it. He must have had an amazingly organized and quick book keeper (or several!). Very cool!! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Julie,
    I always enjoy your posts and replies to other blogs. KISS comes back around all the time. I also think you hit the nail on the head about what folks really want from real estate. You want freedom, from what. You want the “good life”, well what is the “good life” etc etc. Good Stuff.


  4. Hi Julie
    I’ ve just found the BiggerPockets blog and really enjoyed your article on Richard Branson. I’ve done a post on my blog linking back to the article and to you. Please let me know if this is not OK.
    I am mad keen on real estate also!
    Thank you

    • Hi Coral –
      I’m ok with just about anything as long as Josh Dorkin (the man behind BiggerPockets) is ok with it!! In fact – I am thrilled that you liked the post so much you wanted to share it with others!! Thank you for that.

      Best regards,

  5. Richard Dale-Mesaros on

    I like your referances to Richard Branson Julie! I really believe if you’re going to do anything, you might as well do it with some chutzpah, have fun with it and try to be different and noticeable. Even if you’re a new investor there’s no reason why you shouldn’t think for yourself and start to get comfortable with going with your gut etc. Respect for anyone you deal with is key, too.

    Thanks for conveying some of the traits we need as investors!

    Richard 🙂

      • Richard Dale-Mesaros on

        Cheers Julie,

        Acutally, I was wondering if you’d be open to coming down to NH and speaking to 100 or so real estate investors…. please give me a call when you get a minute: 603 726 0221. Thanks!

        Yours with boundless enthusiasm,

        Richard 🙂

  6. Valuable lessons and inspiration you have here! I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and time into your comments! Thumbs Up! I agree with you Julie if we want to do something just do it because we never get thing done without doing anything about it, right? Fear should not stop us and we should overcome that fear in order for us to succeed.

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