How to Find True Financial Freedom Through Real Estate Investing

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My inaugural article for Bigger Pockets was about why” we invest in Real Estate. After this article you will know more of why we invest and hopefully you will get inspired to move your business to the next level.

We hear the phrase “Financial Freedom” thrown around, but what does it really mean? Is it just having or earning a lot of money? I know people who earn $800,000 a year and they are far from free! They are in businesses or jobs that own them. I also have met two different billionaires, one of whom owns about 250 businesses and has more time freedom than most. Do you want to eventually be very hands off from your business and have true financial AND TIME freedom? Seeing that time is our most valuable commodity, why not make the most of it? If you are interested in obtaining both, please read on…

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

This is the dream right? Going from zero to 10+ rental properties, providing stable cash flow and long-term wealth for you and your family, and building a scalable business model to boot! Learn how this investor did just that, in this exclusive story featured on BiggerPockets!

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How We Are Creating Freedom In Our Business

We started investing a little over 4 years ago. Our business is now doing about 15 full renovations at any given time, and we are on target to do over 60 flips in 2013, Sound busy? Well we are, BUT, not as busy as we used to be doing 20 flips per year.

How is that possible?

We decided last year to start implementing strong internal systems to begin to give us some personal freedom. Has it worked? Well, not totally yet, but we are well on our way. One of the keys to having freedom is to OWN the business and NOT let the business own you. That is the mistake of so many of us small business owners. We let the business own us. We don’t mean to when we start out, but in a short time that is what happens if we don’t make a conscience effort to avoid that trap. If we fall into it, we have no time for anything other than business and surviving!

There is a better way to live and a better way to run your investing business. It became apparent when I learned how one of the billionaires ran his 250 companies. He didn’t run them!! He invests, and finds the right people to run them. That it. Is it really as simple as that? Not quite! To have companies run smoothly, you must develop systems. We don’t have time in this blog to cover everything, because it is pretty extensive. Go read The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. It will enlighten you of how to OWN your business instead of it owning YOU!

How Can You Create Freedom In Your World?

FreedomIt can be as simple as hiring a property management company to manage your real estate, or hiring contractors to do the work you have been doing yourself on your flips. This will provide freedom! Yes it costs money, but what can you do with the new time that you have found? Whatever you want! Vacation, spend time with your family, build your business, buy more rentals, flip more houses, again, it’s your time, do what you will with it.

Our business changed when we hired an administrative assist who eventually became our office manager. We now found the time to go and flip more houses. We grew even more when we hired on an inside agent who now handles all of our selling of finished houses (that was one of my main roles so it was very hard to release control). Next, we hired on 3 more agents, so now we have 4 inside agents who are running leads and bringing us houses to buy.

A few weeks ago, we hired on a project manager, and it would seem we finally have all of our chess pieces together. We have designed systems for each process and procedure and we are currently working to document and design a manual so if we need to replace any one person, the company doesn’t shut down. If you can treat your business like McDonalds treats a hamburger (Read their story to understand more about systems), you will be amazed at how your business will change.

We could go on forever with the details., but we won’t :-). There are plenty of resources for you to get some great information on systemizing your business. Bottom line is that systems will provide you with financial and time freedom if you manage the process correctly. Even simple ones to start should be done ASAP as your life will start to look very different.

Related: BP Podcast 015: From $80k in Credit Card Debt to 100+ Deals with Glenn and Amber Schworm

Waterpark

One Of My Best Days Ever!

In closing, let me tell you what inspired me to write this post. This past Friday was a school day. When we woke up that morning, I took my 13 year old son to school. I then returned home to take my 8 year old princess to school. Well, I decided I had a different idea. I like having what we call “Daddy Dates” with my kids, and it was time for my daughter and I to spend some time together.

Instead of school, I took my daughter to an inside water park here in Upstate NY (don’t call the truant officer!!) We spent the entire day together. I shut off my phone and became an 8 year old again for the day. We went on all the rides, and I quickly remembered I was 44 after going up and down 4 flights of stairs over, and over, and over! Plus, being twisted around in all the rides was making me a little dizzy! We spent an amazing day playing together, bonding, and just loving each other. It was just she and I, and the lines were very short as most kids were in school and most parents had to work. It was the kind of special day that neither she nor I will forget for many years, or possibly the rest of our lives.

On our way home as she slept, I checked my messages to find out what went on while I was out. All on this same day, we sold another wholesale with about an $11K profit, our largest renovated home just went under contract for $362K, and we were featured on the front page of the local Business Review publication here in our area with a 4 page spread all about us and our success on the inside. Wow, what a day! And all of this while I was at the water park having a wonderful day with my daughter.

As VISA says:

Gas to get to the park: $25
Tickets to get in the park: $62
Lunch in the park (because you must by their food) $25 πŸ™‚
Having a very positive article written about you: Very Humbling
Having two large deals go under contract in your absence: Great Feeling

Creating an amazing memory with my beautiful daughter while my business ran without me….
ABSOLUTELY PRICELESS!

What areas will you systemize in your business to give you more freedom? Take small steps.
Can I help provide any suggestions? I would love to hear your comments and/or questions.

Photos: Jams_123, kalyan02, iriskh

About Author

Glenn Schworm

Glenn and his wife Amber are the owners of Signature Home Buyers , located in upstate New York. They have bought and sold over 100 houses and counting since beginning in 2008. They are also the proud parents of 3 amazing kids and love to travel the globe, scuba dive, skydive and basically live life to the fullest!

29 Comments

  1. Hi Glenn,

    I have yet to listen to your podcast but I know I will enjoy it.

    I know Micheal Gerber’s book well, working on your business and not in your business. Implementation of that concept is not easy.

    This article is most important in not just understanding REI in theory but running a business which includes duplicating yourself and training others. Think like a McDonalds Training Manual.

    My favorite quote in growing small businesses is, “Inspect What You Expect.”

    What that means to me in running a REI business is “What are my Expectations? Are they being met by my employees?”

    One Minute Manager Series of books helped me in the early 90s to go from myself in a bedroom office to 30 employees in 2 years. It started with a girl friday that wanted to help me grow the company.

    Thanks so much for the article. It is real motivation for me, and I suspect most small business dreamers.

    • Hey Brian,

      You’re welcome! Thanks back to you for the post. McDonalds is probably all of our model, or at least it should be. Taking a crappy hamburger and turning it into a multi billion dollar business shows the power of systems. I watched his story a while ago on some TV show and it was pretty amazing, that man was ruthless! But he changed the business world forever with his concept. Thanks again, have a great week ahead!

  2. Great article! The attitude on the podcast, to me is important. It didn’t happen over night. But through persistence and hard work, you can now have serious quality time with the family.

    • Setting our plans is like flying planes. DId you know that a commercial airliner is off course 98% of the time on the way to a destination? It seems like we are always off course 98% of the time but somehow if we know the goal in mind and ficus on it, we can eventually land the plane at the right airport! Which in your case is 100 rentals by 2023. Stay focused brother! Thanks for the post.

  3. I enjoyed this post very much. I think many folks forget why they invest in real estate in the first place. Time is a perishable commodity, once today is gone, we never get it back. You can use that time to work in your business, work on your business (to buy future time), or to reap what you have sewn. After reading this post, I will be adding your podcast to my queue.

    Jason

    • Thanks Jason, there is something about getting a little older that really makes you appreciate time more. It is so crucial that we do what is important to us. You said it, “Once today is gone we never get it back” Thanks for the comment, have an awesome week.

  4. Very inspirational! What a great day that was to spend that time with your daughter and still have your business run so exceptionally! A true testament to how you two have built your business….a long way from where you started (great podcast).

    • Thanks Michelle, it was an awesome day with her for sure. Even with all that happened, spending the day in the water with her was the best! It has been a long road, but hey, life moves on anyways, might as well build something while you’re riding along! Have a awesome week.

  5. Junior Salters on

    Great article, Glenn!! With my first child on they way I can see exactly what the type of freedom you have built for yourself and your family can’t be matched. An inspiration to young men like myself!

    • Junior, first of all a huge congrats! Second of all, you’re life is about to change FOREVER man! And it is all in a good way. You will never know how you lived without your new baby. You will work harder, stay up longer (not by choice!) and your reason for building a better life will be multiplied by 100 with the new addition. Enjoy them as the do grow up so fast! Make the time to build a great future for your family so you will always be able to enjoy those extra little things in life with them AND have the time to do it. Have a great week!

  6. Glenn,

    What systems have you developed to manage your rehabs? If I’m reading correctly you just recently hired your first project manager… I can’t imagine doing 5 projects at a time without a PM let alone 15. Amber must really be efficient and well organized!

    Also, what advice do you have regarding finding and hiring an administrative assistant?

    I have a hundred more questions but all in due time.

    Thanks for the great article and again for the podcast last week.

    Glenn

    • Glenn,

      In a nutshell, from a ton of experience and a ton of mistakes we learned that what works great for us is to hire a separate GC for each project. We design a detailed Scope of Work and Budget for each house. Our PM’s job is to oversee the process. And I don’t care how organized we were, when we were doing 10-15 houses at once we were VERY unproductive as we acted as our own GC’s. What a nightmare!!! You’re going to pay one way or the other, so you might aw well pay more up front for the right GC as the process will go much smoother. Also take the time to totally plan out the entire job and budget up front. Those 15-20 hours of planning will save you months of your life as your stress will be limited.

      As to hiring an AA. When we did it, we ran an ad. We then replied back to all 60+ applicants indicating EXACTLY what the job would entail and i mean the good, the bad and the ugly. That scared about 50 of them away. Then we interviewed and narrowed the field down to 2. We met with each of them 3 times and toured our projects together. We did full back ground checks, checked all references and decided on 1. It has been 3.5 years and she is still here. I guess it is the same as a contractor. Invest your time up front and don’t settle. If you do this and trust your gut, you will be glad you did.

      2 down, 98 to go. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Sharon, we all need those pushes from time to time, don’t we? πŸ™‚ RIght now we have been focused on systems but I need to get back to focusing on our marketing systems! I may be giving you a call to pick your brain. Thanks for the comment!

  7. This is very inspiring and the ultimate goal for me and my family. My husband is chained to his desk and doesn’t get to spend the time he’d like with me, our daughter, or doing the things he loves for himself. Hopefully after a few years of dedication, we can start to realize the life we know we can live where people come first.

    Thank you for showing us that it can be done!

    • You are very welcome. I agree with you, even though he is chained to “the man” πŸ™‚ with consistent effort and staying out of your comfort zone, you can achieve a very different life. Remember, I will do today what others won’t so I can have tomorrow what others don’t. Hope that helps! Have a great day!

  8. Great article, Glenn.

    We have 12 full time employees and our business is busier and bigger than ever. The great thing is that we, as the owners, have more free time than ever. We have systems, systems, and more systems.

    Anytime something comes up in the office where an employee isn’t sure what to do, our first question is, “what is our policy?” Next comment, “if we don’t have one, create one, put it in writing and submit it to everyone in the office.”

    Always operate your company as if you plan to sell it. That way, everyone always knows what to do and it functions even when you’re not there.

  9. Hey Karen,

    Sounds like we are on very similar paths. I was chuckling when I ready your post. We do the same in our office, though we are still infants in that growth part of our business. We started official systems about 6 months ago, but can already see a huge difference. When I get something on my desk that I would normally just “handle” I walk to the office manager and say, “Ok, what is our systems for this?” and away we go. Documentation is our next step. When we had 10-15 renovations going at once and all the “systems” were in our heads, life was so crazy it was not even close to enjoyable. Now we finally see the light and can scale without losing our minds in the process! Thanks for the post and continued success to you. πŸ™‚

  10. The “As VISA says:” section is priceless! Great post. I took Michael Gerber’s advice a few years ago as well and I’m now making enough passive income from online to live life on my own terms (I do it through online businesses). Working ON your business rather than IN your business is the best advice one can get in relation to passive income! Keep the inspiring work

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