Monthly Archives: January 2017

A “Big” Perspective

Here I am, back on the “Thinking Big” bandwagon. (And this is simply a perspective and an observation, not a judgment) I am certainly not immune from the challenge we face when we are considering something that involves risk and is bigger than our comfort level. Possibly even beyond our knowledge and skill set as well. In looking back, I remember being intimidated at things that simply do not phase me now. I remember struggling for weeks over the purchase of a $150 compressor, a $100 drill press, and a $125 band saw for my work shop. Each of those items added to my ability to create income and secure a future (at least financially) for my family. Now I spend almost that much filling my truck up with fuel 2-3 times a week. “Big” is a relative term. A big commitment or a big investment can mean one thing one day and something entirely different years later.

At the beginning of our real estate investing career, we analyzed dozens of properties over and over to make sure we were making the right decisions. What took, hours and weeks to decide then, takes moments now. Why is that? It’s simply because “Big” in our mind today, as always, has been related to our perspective and comfort zone. In 1982, (my early tool buying days) big was $100. In 2004 (my early real estate buying days) big was $30,000. By 2010, big was about $100,000. In 2014, big was $1 million. In 2016, it took about 10 minutes to decide on a $200,000 plus deal that we didn’t even have benefit of historic business financials. The “bigness” of that deal was insignificant because our perspective on “Big” has changed.

In the world of investing, whether in real estate or in business, “big” is relative both in expected investment and in expected return. When I address investing and try to determine what someone’s reality of their “Big” perspective happens to be, there are a couple of tell-tale indicators. First of all, EVERYBODY claims to think, believe and act “Big”. In reality, when the chips are down and a commitment is necessary, I see people choke at $1,000 or $2,000 or $5,000 and sometimes as little as $50. One other thing I notice is a false sense of expectation when justifying the choke. Things like “well, the return is not good enough” when actually the return is pretty good. The lower the choke point, usually the higher the “stated” expectation is for a mythical or unrealistic return.

Don’t misunderstand, I’ve done EXACTLY the same thing. One of my more memorable choke experiences includes an exciting prospect presented by a friend as a potential partnership. An Executive Retreat on 1,700 acres, private lake, off road courses with cool vehicles, boats, 1,200 head of bison with butcher shop, taxidermy shop and clients all over the world! AWESOME, I said, How Much? $12 million was the reply. Choke choke! As it turns out, it was a profitable business with over $1 million in annual sales on the bison products alone. AND, an ag bank was willing to finance it!

There is no doubt after looking back on it that my perspective of the “bigness” of it overwhelmed me. Even though I had already overcome the $1 million big hurdle on another project.

where-the-magic-happensI suppose the purpose of this article is to challenge myself again as well as others to our perspective of “Big”. The term “Big” means nothing because big to one person means something totally different to another. The ONLY yardstick that big can be measured against is our own comfort zone. If your goal is to create an income to support a specific lifestyle or purpose, then “Big” for you is going to HAVE TO BE big enough to support that level of purpose. If you choke on $1,000 or $10,000 or any figure that doesn’t support your vision, purpose or goals, then you need to get a new perspective on “BIG”!  Then you must be willing to persevere through it in terms of action and commitment.

Following The Dream

I’ve hesitated writing this particular article for a long time. Not because I’ve had a problem with the content of it, but because it may be VERY challenging. Sometimes that makes me feel like I’m stepping on toes. The other reason is that even though it’s not meant to wave the banner of “Look what we’ve done”, it still may come across that way. We are approaching the 13th anniversary of our plunge into the real estate investment business and it has grown every year to encompass a number of businesses as well as just residential housing. Our dream has NEVER been to own a bunch of houses. Our Dream is to create a lifestyle we truly enjoy that accomplishes fun as well as serious goals, and the houses simply make that dream more of a reality.

fire-camperWith that said, here we go!

Our life is not complicated but it is full. Many of the dreams we’ve had for years are being lived out as a normal lifestyle and include things like living in a full time camping environment. Yes we actually are living in a campground in a camper. (it’s a nice one, but it’s still just a camper). Some people choose this life because it’s economical. Some because it allows for the freedom of travel. We do it because we love camping and this puts us right in the middle of that lifestyle. By living like this, we wake up to the smell of a wood bonfire nearly every morning and a cup of coffee already brewed up in the office.

treehouses in bransonThe other things we love is the opportunity to create unique and memorable experiences for others to enjoy. This has culminated in the accumulation of four resort properties that run anywhere from basic cabin getaways  to lake front and boat experiences to treehouse cabin experiences. And we have plans to even expand on that.

So now for the challenge. Obviously, our dream is not everyone’s dream. However we know that many are attracted by our dreams simply because they are fun and fulfilling. Regardless of your dream, I can guarantee two things about it. For you to live your dream, you must first be willing to take the first step towards fulfilling that dream. The second part of that is that it is almost certain that your dream will take more energy, commitment, passion and conviction than is comfortable. Whether you call it a step of faith or a step of confidence, there is absolutely going to be an element of “risking it all” to see it become reality.

Do we occasionally become terrified because we’ve not sure what the future holds? Yes! Are we occasionally ready to pitch the whole thing over a cliff and go back and get a 9 to 5 job? Maybe, (briefly) but never more than a few minutes at a time! Do we occasionally wonder how we are going to pay the bills? Yes, but we know that if we just keep doing what we know works, that will all stabilize back out again!

The point is……It’s never a bed of roses 100 percent of the time. Is it hard? Yes, sometimes it is!. Is it WORTH IT? Absolutely! I wouldn’t trade chasing the dream for any other life. I would rather work at making a cabin nice or building a treehouse or tinkering with a boat ANYTIME over punching a time clock and watching the world go by out the office window day in and day out.

walt_disney_quote-03Following a good dream requires a good game plan more than anything else. If you can chart a path through the known’s and as many of the unknown’s as possible, dreams can become realities.