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What About 2019

2019Here we are on the brink of 2019. I have a custom going back to 2011 where I challenge everyone (Including myself) to consider what we plan to do or accomplish for the upcoming new year. I have a confession to make this year…….. Ready for it? Back when I started this “end of the year exercise”, I had just come away from a year where a number of people I know had made some very bold statements of what their “New Year” was going to look like. We were teaching goal setting, planning and investment strategies back then and I remember thinking to myself that almost all of the group had made big statements concerning their plans and ultimate success in them, but virtually none of them committed to any kind of actual written plan. So my confession??????? I’ve kept loose track of this group over the years and I’m STILL waiting to see any results out of most of them. A very few of that original group have accomplished remarkable things. (And I don’t mean just financial stuff either. Financial stuff is just stuff like anything else. I’m referring to life goals regardless of their nature)

So here we are and I pose the question once again, What about 2019? Will this be the year that changes everything? Will it be the year that ends with you saying to yourself, “Finally…. I did what I’ve been dreaming about for years!”

I hope so.

I see a year of open doors and possibilities ahead and when I look back at my “What about 2019?” posting, I have every intention of saying “What and Awesome Year it was!”

The “Side Gig”

A while back I received an email from a business associate that I’ve had some dealings with over the years. He was talking about a term he called a “Side Gig”. Sometimes I have a pretty good idea of what he’s referring to but not always. This was one of those “not always” times. The “Side Gig” he was talking about was something that he was doing as a source of income outside his “Main Gig”. Here is his explanation. Side Gigs are things you find that can add income to your pocket without expending much effort or energy. Side gigs seldom produce enough income to make a living, but can easily add a few hundred or a few thousand dollars to your bank account every week or month. Depending on their nature, they can potentially fit in with things you are already doing without too much effort.

4-entrepreneur-quotesI realized after reading his message that a large part of our income was made up of “Side Gigs”. Our main gigs are residential rental homes and resort vacation properties. Without realizing it we had developed a natural outlet for our side gigs, especially ones that fit with the vacation properties. You might call them “side businesses” and some could even grow into full time businesses. Our personal “Side Gigs” account for probably around $30,000 per year in income and $30k extra in the bank is better than $0 extra.

Anyway…… “Side Gigs” something worth thinking about!

What About 2018

Each and every year about this time I’m thinking about the upcoming year. I try to write a little bit of something about my thoughts and perspectives on business, investing and the lifestyle that is a result of our annual decisions. Each year we find ourselves further down the path of our goals than the previous year, but ironically it almost never turns out quite like we envisioned it. I suppose the key is that as long as you have a target in mind and are moving toward it, you end up finding yourself someplace new every year!

Which is a good thing……….. I suppose!

Anyway, 2017 started with a huge business acquisition goal still in front of us. One we had been working on for over a year at the time. One that also came to a crashing end, by May. They don’t always work out the way we plan. In the middle of that, we were also faced with a small management crisis at one of the resorts. Downshift, change direction, step on the gas and by the end of the year, we had one of the most remarkable seasons yet in our resort businesses. SO, one of our biggest disappointments ended with one of our biggest business years. It balanced out just fine.

So what about 2018? Well 2018 to us is going to look like a continuation of 2017. We discovered something in 2017 that was unexpected and has changed our strategy a bit towards the better.

What about 2018 in your life?

Security in Chaos (Brain-Washing)

I have begun to realize something lately that may explain why I get perplexed any more when people fail to act on opportunities. I’ve come to realize that there was a point, and not that long ago, when I did the EXACT same thing. What changed?…… I believe what has changed is basically just one thing………. and it has to do with BRAINWASHING! ( I should probably insert “LOL” right now)

chaosActually, I believe I have managed to get myself brain-washed into thinking that life as an entrepreneur is much more fulfilling, more profitable, more secure and certainly more fun than any of my “steady paycheck” jobs ever were.  The trouble is that it just looks so …..Chaotic! Let me tell you that it feels that way a lot too! Well at least it did. Once I realized that it only “felt” chaotic at times did I start to figure it out.

Here’s where the brain-washing comes in. Starting about 20 years ago, I began to read all these books on business, investing, working smart not hard, owning the assets rather than working for those who owned the assets, creating multiple streams of income and so on. It just dawned on me. I’ve Become What I’ve Been Reading! I’ve managed to brain-wash myself into believing that it was entirely possible to own multiple businesses and do well at it. It hit me one day last week when I spent the entire day dealing with five different things related to five different businesses we own. It went as follows:

  1. Stop by the resorts to work through a housekeeping hiring issue then do some marketing strategy with the manager there.
  2. Fiddle (successfully I might add) with a boat at the marina that was not working properly.
  3. Drive to the Treehouse Property to check on progress and do some creative brainstorming with the builders.
  4. Make some calls to some of the rent housing operators to clarify a management change.
  5. Meet with a partner concerning a business acquisition we are in the middle of.
  6. End of the day – Go eat some barbecue ribs with the wife!

This is normal now. No more complicated or difficult than anything I’ve ever done on a job. It’s just different. Different because it’s multi-faceted. It has many moving parts. It’s not something that is necessarily intimidating when it’s cleanly defined in a daily planner. However, it probably looks that way because it’s not always something that can be cleanly planned from day to day. Some days it just happens in the order of the phone calls that come in. That feels and probably looks chaotic. In fact, it’s the kind of thing I’ve come to enjoy about life now. Knowing that by keeping all the parts functioning smoothly, I’m actually adding to the stability of life as well as income and possibilities.

I’m learning to “Embrace the Chaos” and enjoy the ride.

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.



What About 2017

Here is my next annual “What About” installment. It’s the time of year when I challenge myself in the area of what (if anything) I plan to try and accomplish during the coming year. While I don’t necessarily publish my annual goals, I do use them occasionally as conversational material to help challenge others. I’ve been pretty diligent about annual goal setting for the past 10 or 11 years, but have only been doing the “What about the Upcoming Year” since 2012.

It started when I had watched some good friends talk about building their financial goals, creating some retirement plans and “leaving the rat race” for several years but not really committing to a plan to achieve it. I am proud to say that in 2016, they took some major steps toward getting started. Another couple who are good friends have also initiated their financial plan and have secured five investment properties in about nine months. IMPRESSIVE!

As I begin 2017, I’ve already got some business expansion plans in the works. It’s going to be an exciting year. I invite you to ask yourself; “What about 2017”, and see if when you look back in 365 days that 2017 had turned into the most exciting year of your life!