Quit the hobby, don't quit the business

I loved this article I found from Bigger Pockets, “Hobby vs. Business: Do You Have the Right Mindset as a Landlord?"  Bigger Pockets bills itself as a type of social network for real estate investing.  The article paints a picture of what many people assume landlording looks like.  An expensive, stressful, time-consuming, soul-crushing hobby.  Trust me, it’s not a pretty picture.

"The landlord in that story approached his business like a hobby, a side project, something he does when he finds time. He’s deep inside his business and can’t seem to get out. He’s fighting a losing battle with his tenants and losing ground every day."--Bigger Pockets article

The beauty of this piece is that the writer shows that this is not what landlording has to look like.  The image the average man on the street holds of what it’s like to be a rental property owner (“middle-of-the-night phone calls, sleepless nights, and profitless rentals”) is actually only a cautionary tale which can be used to re-direct a smart investor toward the path to success.

The article seems geared toward a newbie investor or even someone who is considering investing but has not actually started.  What I liked about reading this is that it can also reach an unintended audience—long term, experienced landlords like me.  When I hear about what happened to the landlord in this story, it’s not just a vague possibility of the types of things that could happen if you don’t run your rentals like a real business.  I could identify with some of the circumstances this landlord faced since similar things have happened to me—and WORSE.

Even though I “bumped my head” many times in my efforts to do things the "easy way [read with extreme irony]," I’m finally learning the importance of having the efficient systems and real business infrastructure in place that the article mentions.  The blessing to me is that I am learning these lessons before I get burned out and ready to make the decision to give up.

Reading pieces like remind me that there is a better way to run my rental business and to not allow my rental business to run me.  This gives momentum to my motivation to turn around a struggling enterprise and to ensure that it has the positive effect on my life I originally intended when I started out many years ago.

I made some huge, scary decisions this year when I decided I didn’t want to keep doing things the hard way (meaning I had to part ways with some long term residents with a weak rent payment history).  I’m not in the clear yet but I have a desire to keep moving in that direction.  I'm full of fear and uncertainty.  I have no idea how things will turn out.  If I will win or lose.  But I’m determined to keep trying because you never know when things will turn around for your situation.  I’m always reminded of one of favorite poems, John Greenleaf Whittier's oft-quoted “Don’t Quit.”

Don't Quit

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit—
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.


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