Here are 9 important steps to help you get your business going:
- Name: To begin, decide on a company name. Make sure it is available from your Secretary of State, and because it’s best to have the same name for your website address, check to see if the URL is available through a domain registrar site such as GoDaddy. Having your business name the same as your website URL makes finding your business easier for your client and makes marketing easier for you.
- Email address: Along with your company name, set up a company email address.
- Mailing address: Establish a business mailing address. I suggest a mailbox store where you can get an actual street address. Do not use a PO Box as that won’t look official. Never use your home address for your business, especially with tenants.
- Phone number: Establish a separate company phone number. If you’re concerned about expense, use a family plan through your cell service provider and have one line designated just for business. It’s important to know how to answer when the phone rings.
- Website: A website offers both credibility and professionalism. In the beginning, again being cost conscious, you can set-up a free site through WordPress.com. At some point, you’ll want to invest in a professional site that can be modified to your business specifics. Our websites (we have many!) show our properties and interact with our clients. We also have a back end to our sites where we can add and remove properties and save all client communications.
- Business Cards: Once you have a name, physical address, email address, phone number and company website, have business cards printed. Vistaprint offers 250 business cards free; all you pay is shipping.
- Entity Structure: As soon as possible, have an attorney set up your corporate entity. Believe me when I tell you that you won’t save money setting up your own online. For real estate investing, the best entity is a partnership LLC and this LLC needs articles of incorporation to spell out what you do and how your business will function. Have a knowledgeable real estate attorney and CPA set it up keeping in mind the tax benefits real estate offers. Only if properly structured will you be personally protected from liability issues and be able to claim all the available tax benefits offered with real estate. You have no personal protection or tax benefits with properties deeded into your personal name, so you need an LLC.
- Marketing: The next step is setting up and distributing marketing. You can set everything up properly to have an official business but, without marketing, you won’t have customers and your company won’t survive for long!
- Beginner Expectations: What are reasonable beginner goals? It’s reasonable to expect to purchase your first property within 90 days. A strong goal, especially if you have a job to pay your bills (and I hope you do), is three properties the first year. No two deals are the same so, with three under your belt, you will gain a whole lot of knowledge that you don’t have today.
The important thing now is to start moving and to keep moving. Are you ready to begin?