For many aspiring real estate entrepreneurs, “Quit my day job!” is high on the list of reasons why they started their real estate side hustle in the first place. Maybe even a little too high. Some would-be tycoons, smelling millions around the corner, jump the gun and quit their jobs before doing their first deal. That’ll free up lots of time to make your real estate fortune, right?
The more sober path is actually smarter in most cases. A job gives you freedom in the form of security. W2 income helps you qualify for loans you will need to build your empire. We also tend to get more done when we’re more busy. Finally, replacing your work income with real estate income is often a longer path than many expect. The security of a job is a boon during that hard early push.
So we have a challenge ahead of us—how to balance a nascent real estate business with your day job, without fatally shortchanging either. Here are some tips to balance your day job with your side hustle …
1. Don’t Do Real Estate Business on your Employer’s Time
If you don’t already feel it, you will—the temptation to answer emails from brokers while you’re clocked in. The temptation to take an extra coffee break to return a potential partner’s call on a company phone.
Don’t fall into this trap. Your lunch break or your commute are fair game, but you are essentially stealing time and resources from your employer when you take company time to focus on your real estate side hustle.
Remember why you’re keeping your day job in the first place. It often takes several years to replace your day job income with your real estate income. You may need good standing at your job for those several years. If your employer gets the impression that you are on your way out, that job might disappear before you are ready for it to go.
On the other hand, be vigilant about boundaries. Some employers expect their employees to be at their beck and call even when they clock out. Try to make your off hours your time. This might mean upping your efficiency at the office (shorter breaks, less time chatting at the water cooler, etc.), which definitely precludes doing real estate business on company time.
2. Set a Schedule that Works for You
One of the upsides of keeping your day job is that it limits the time you have to work on your real estate business.
Why is this an upside? Because it encourages you to think about what steps you can take today that really matter, the most important tasks that will push your business forward.
Be vigilant with your schedule and stick to it. Consider batching tasks by day. For example, reserve Monday for lead prospecting, Tuesday for networking, Wednesday for lead nurturing, Thursday for marketing, and Friday for education.
Remember, real estate businesses take some time to get off the ground. Try to take a “lean and mean” attitude towards your to-do list, and remember that you’re in this for the long haul.
3. Build a Team, and Rely On It
Real estate is a team sport. This is great news for your ability to balance your real estate side hustle with your day job. Once you build a “power team” of professionals, you can rely on them to do their job. They can probably do it better than you.
Here are some examples of how to do this:
- Instead of hoofing the streets or working the phones looking for deals, why not rely on a broker, wholesaler, or bird dog?
- Have a property you are considering buying but you need to identify problems in the making? Send a contractor, property manager, or partner to do a drive-by or walk the property. They’ll have to look eventually, and their opinion may be more expert than yours. Even if they charge you a fee for a site visit, it may be worth it considering the income you preserve at your job.
- Don’t try to do everything yourself. Have marketing materials to design or listing copy to write? Hire someone on a freelancer site like Fiverr or Upwork to do it for you. The final product will be a lot better, the expense a tax write-off.
- Want to really level up? Consider hiring a virtual assistant to do repetitive tasks like lead generation, comparative market analyses, or underwriting. This will cost you some money and take some time to train the VA, but foreign VAs are still a good deal, and you can often find foreign VAs experienced in US real estate.
4. Use Productivity Tools Like a Startup
Especially if you are building a team, it’s critical that you think like a startup to get yourself organized. Remember, as a new business your real estate side hustle is a startup—that term isn’t reserved for agile software development.
Many Cloud-based productivity tools are free. Look into:
- Google G Suite to manage your email addresses and calendar.
- Slack to manage team communications.
- Trello or Asana for project management and to-do lists.
5. Beware of Burnout
If you’re waiting for this article to suggest that you cancel your Netflix subscription, you’ve waited in vain. Yes, you can absolutely burn away productive time by channel-surfing or playing video games, but the point of a real estate side hustle isn’t to turn your life into a death march.
The reason most people fail at diets or quitting smoking is that they quit cold turkey, setting themselves up for failure by trying to do too much at one time. Side hustles are the same.
You have to find balance and take care of your physical and mental health. Make time to work out regularly, and let yourself off the hook one day a week (or if you’re really tough, one day a month) to indulge in a Netflix binge.
The point is to do whatever you’re doing all the way. When it’s job time, you are in it with your job. When it’s real estate time, you are in it with your real estate business. When it’s Fortnite time, you are in it with Fortnite.
Remember, you’re in this for the long haul! Never forget why you started your real estate side hustle in the first place and where it fits in with your values. Replacing your job income with real estate income is a balancing act, no doubt about it—but it’s a balance that you can achieve!