So You Want to Start A Business?

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If you are one of those folks who want to starting a business, you are part of a much larger crowd. It is estimated that at least half of the adult population has considered going down the path to entrepreneurship at one time or another. There are also a whole lot of folks in that group that have given some serious thought to choosing real estate investing as their business. If you are here on BiggerPockets that probably includes you.

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Why Real Estate Investing?

I think this can be summed up in one sentence.

“People understand real estate”

We all have to live somewhere, and the vast majority of us will end up in a single family home at some point. Because of this, the “house business” is one that most people feel like they can do.

There is another reason too…

Many people are already in related careers. For those folks that are working in the mortgage industry, construction trades, appraisals, or any number of other similar careers, that transition to real estate investing just seems to come naturally.

The Top 5 Reasons for Wanting To Start a Business

If you ask budding entrepreneurs why they want to start their own business, here are the top 5 reasons that come up consistently.

  • They are looking for a better work / life balance
  • They want to be their own boss
  • They dream of turning a hobby into a business
  • They just need some extra cash so they need a “side hustle” to achieve that goal
  • They think their life will suddenly become easier, and they will have more time and freedom.

Getting a Dose of Reality

Any entrepreneur knows that building a business brings no greater joy when things are working. They also know that almost all of them have spent a lot of sleepless nights worrying about that same business. So what is the reality of owning your own business?

1. Finding Better Work / Life Balance

There is no doubt that you will have more flexibility as an entrepreneur. Does this translate into having more time for yourself and your family? Probably not in most cases, especially if this is a full time business and you are the “bread winner” of the family. You will be able to slip out to see your child’s school program during the middle of the day in most cases. But you will also be burning the midnight oil instead of watching TV with the family more often than not especially in the early years.

If you are able to put systems and procedures into place early on, you will be much more successful at finding that work balance you crave. My advice is to “outsource early and outsource as much as you can”.

2. You Want to Be Your Own Boss

I have to tell you that this sounds a whole lot sexier than it actually is. It’s true; you don’t have a boss to report to. There is no one in the corporate office standing over your shoulder. What you have in reality is a whole lot of bosses (if you are lucky). They are called customers and clients. You will need to work very hard to find them, keep them happy and meet all of their needs.

3. You Dream of Turning a Hobby into a Business

Hobbies are fun. They are something we like to “escape into” for pleasure. But the reality of turning a hobby into something that can be a profitable business is a whole lot different.

If you love crafts, making cakes or fishing, those hobbies could all be made into businesses. But the reality of making a profitable, scalable business out of those niches might prove to be very difficult. Once you factor in hiring, managing employees, marketing, finances and mundane tasks like taking out the trash (all of which you will likely be doing in the beginning) the “fun” in this venture is no-where to be seen.

4. Creating Your “Side Hustle” for Extra Cash

This is actually a great way to test your business idea and find out if you will like being a business owner. Creating a side business is a great way for real estate investors to begin just so long as you are clear on the challenges you will face. This is in fact how most of us started.

It can be pretty tough once you have put in a full day (and week) at your regular job, to add 15-20 additional hours for your business to your already packed schedule. It’s important that your family be onboard with this idea. What little free time you used to have, will be gone at least for a while.

There are also a lot of real estate investors that love their “day job” and have no intention of quitting. They just want to create an extra income stream and have found ways to make that happen. Most of these savvy investors have created systems and procedures, are outsourcing a great deal of the work and have property managers to help out.

5. Your Life Will Suddenly Become Easier; You Will Have More Freedom and Time

This is the one that is probably hardest to achieve. People have this vision of “lounging on the beach” with a laptop, or being able to travel for extended periods of time. I’m sure you have all seen those ads.

The reality of this situation is that it just isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Don’t get me wrong; I love being in business for myself. But the truth is that you will work harder in those early years and possibly for many years than you ever worked in your 9 to 5 job.

But if you play your cards right, you can really create the freedom and the lifestyle you want that you could never have working for someone else. The important lesson here is to go into this with your eyes wide open. Be aware of the realities and the challenges you will surely face, and then just go for it. Go ahead and create your perfect life.

Photo: Esparta Palma

About Author

Sharon Vornholt

Sharon has been investing in real estate since 1998. She owned and operated a successful home inspection company for 17 years. In January of 2008 she took the leap of closing her business to become a full time real estate investor.


  1. Very good article Sharon!

    I think I’ve been a business owner about as long as I’ve been an employee. My hope is that with each failure/partial success I get closer to finding and creating the perfect business. I have had cushy consulting jobs as an employee, and I love not being stressed out. But I’m always missing this level of satisfaction I get with creating something.

    What made you want to become an entrepreneur?

    • Sharon Vornholt

      Adam – I just don’t like working for someone else. My family was entrepreneurs. The problem is that I tend to become a “slave” to my business, and I am on a mission to change that.

      I am outsourcing a whole lot more, and I am in the process of creating passive income that doesn’t come from rentals. I also love teaching others about real estate.

      There is no doubt that it can be more stressful than working from someone else, but like you I like to “create”.


  2. Glenn Schworm

    Love it Sharon, and not just because you said you liked my post today!! 🙂 I have been an entrepreneur since I was 19 always generating my own income. All of what you wrote is so true! It sure is a lot less sexier than it appears! I have been at it for 25 years and am still not on that beach full time with a computer! But I would not trade the lifestyle and the education for anything in the world. It will make you a better person in a lot of ways I believe and if you play your cards right, you can have a great life and income for the rest of it! Really enjoyed your article! Of course, I usually do 🙂


    • Sharon Vornholt

      Thanks Glenn. Like you I am still working on creating that perfect lifestyle, but I am actively working on it. And I wouldn’t trade the freedom that I have for anything. I do believe I work harder (as most of us do) than almost anyone I know that has a structured job.

      I am really working on building passive income through internet business that ties in with REI. I have a timetable (in my mind) that I am working on also. There are just a whole lot of pieces to pull together. BTW, I will definitely be hitting you up later in the fall for my brand new podcast series for my blog.


  3. Sobering! Yep, the glamour of it all.

    The next step, after you’re somewhat established, is to realize that you’ve got to manage you business. Even if you don’t have employees, every rental business owner has a network to manage.

    Those who reach out to their hardware store clerks that offers repair advice and handymen recommendations, coffee shop employees who offer tenant leads, local police officers that drive by give reassurances, (and the list goes on) and care for those relationships will be able to tap the full potential of owning a small business in a network economy.

    • Absolutely Al. Every day interactions take on a whole new meaning. It’s really important to nurture your team. I think a lot of times people forget about the “everyday” folks that help them grow their business.

      One of my real estate investor friends invites all of these folks; everyone that has helped him even in a tiny way to join him at his favorite Mexican Restaurant for a Christmas Party. He says it’s very affordable and he gets to thank everyone in a special way. They also have him on the top of their list for any type of referral they can make. They want to get invited to that party again next year.

      BTW – did you ever get your book done? Just let me know.


  4. Great post Sharon. You are right on here. One of the best books about this is The emyth revisited by Michael Gerber. MOst people end up just creating another job for themselves when they go into business for themselves. Creating systems and hiring people to do the things you shouldn’t be doing is critical to success. Wish you the best with your new venture of creating more passive income.

    • Hey Mike – I re-read that book every couple of years. I think most of us buy ourselves a job initially. Then we have to figure a way out of that “mess”. The more successful the business is, the harder it is to break free. That’s why people need to outsource sooner rather than later until they decide to hire employees.

  5. Great job with the list and the point by point “Good, Bad and Ugly” of them all.

    People need to know that it isn’t all unicorns and rainbows when you start a business.
    Those early years will be a lot of work, but it will hopefully be very fulfilling work (if not you should reassess if this is the right choice) and the long-term benefits should be fantastic.

    But like most things there is a price to pay for the reward.

    • You are absolutely right Shaun. To paraphrase, I think it was Napoleon Hill that said “you have to decide what you are willing to give in return for whatever you want”. There is always “give or sacrifice” involved.

      Think and Grow Rich is another book everyone should re-read from time to time. That is a great little book. Thanks for reading.


        • Great idea Shaun. It has been about 2 years since I last read it. I really need to get the audio. Thanks for the suggestion.

          I just ordered The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. That book is about how making small changes pays huge dividends in your business and your life over time. I can’t wait to dive into that one. I’m probably going to regret not getting this one in audio.

  6. Great article!! It is daunting, a true sacrifice, long hours, diligence, “stick-to-it”ivness, and I think you’ve got to be cut from “that” cloth! lol! But, for those who are.. it can lead to quite the reward! 🙂

    • Sharon Vornholt

      Nichole – Yes it can. It’s easily twice the work (or more), but twice the rewards.

      I think you are absolutely right in knowing that not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur and that’s OK. But for the rest of us, it’s like an illness! LOL

      Thanks for your comments.

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