Hustle: The Single Most Important Factor to Finding Real Estate Deals
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. 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.
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.
- I will always run my deals by my mentor and business partner before moving forward.
- I will memorize the good deal formula for buying flips or for buying rentals.
- 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.
- Brandon Turner wrote a good step-by-step guide to help you with this.
- 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.
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.