The one lesson I learn over and over again is: USE A PRO!!! What do I mean? I mean don’t try to bootstrap everything. Sure DIY is a great way to start, but if your goal is long term, build a team of individuals who make a living doing what you need. I’ll illustrate my point with a few vignettes.
#1- When I was a young teenager, I loved nothing more than to be elbows deep in a greasy old car rebuilding it or just plain tinkering. I was good at it, it was fun, and most importantly, I had time. There were never deadlines. Given enough time, I rebuilt entire cars. Nothing was too complicated.
Fast forward 24 years. I’m not 16 anymore. I have very little time on my hands. I am an active duty Air Force Lt. Colonel. Besides being a military officer and the duties which it requires, I am a U-2 and T-38 instructor pilot. The military officer, and pilot jobs are almost 2 separate jobs that require a large amount of time.
Last week my wife’s minivan’s alternator decided to “let the smoke out.” Coincidentally, I had taken a few days of local leave and though it might be nice to get my hands dirty and see if I could perform the repair myself, just like old times…not so much!
Needless to say, the quick and easy repair would have taken a professional mechanic a couple of hours. It took me over 6! Sure, I might have saved a few hundred bucks, BUT I almost made a few errors which might have cost me more! Luckily, I got everything back together, but I did have to call a buddy who was gracious enough to drop by and help me troubleshoot after I thought I had it all buttoned up.
Synopsis: I spent $150 bucks on the new alternator, my mechanic would have charged me $200 bucks to install it. I did it in 6.5 hours, thus I made just over $30/hour while working on my car. If I had damaged my radiator (which I came very close, or mis-wired my AC compressor clutch ( I did this, but my buddy Scotty found it while trouble shooting it) this whole incident could have cost me thousands. OUCH!
#2- Last year I did my own taxes. I have always done my own taxes with no problem, but 2014 was different. I went crazy and bought 8 homes! Federal and state taxes without real estate is no big deal, I recommend you do it your self actually. Having eleven properties, doing three flips, with combat exclusion time made last year a huge PITA! I most likely spent 40 hours gathering the docs and filling in the squares, and that was with software. I think I got it right?
This year, I hired a CPA. I found a spouse of an active Duty member who was building her clientele and took me on. I was grateful when I dropped off a folder of receipts and documents and a few days later a tax return was professionally prepared for me. How much? The answer was not 40+ hours of time spent doing something maybe correct. It was $750 bucks for a professional federal return and three state returns. Worth it? That’s a dumb question if you ask me.
#3- When I was getting into the acquisition of real estate, I went through 6 realtors before I found the one that made me money! The others were not comfortable working with investors and wasted my time! Eight months to be exact!
On my first outing with my current realtor, I made a offer and eventually closed on that house. Within 3 months I have found 4 more.
DIY is a great way to test the waters on a new business idea. Its a terrible way to run a cash producing business! Make the transition from hustler to businessman or businesswoman. Hire a pro. Robert Kiyosaki said it best, “work on your business, not in it!” NOW GO BUILD SOMETHING BIGGER!