Monday, October 10, 2011

Duplex Painted - A Business vs. Self-Employment

A little bit ago I quickly noted that we were getting our duplex painted. Well, it's done! See above for what it looks like now. See below for what it used to look like.

What do you think? I think it looks MUCH better - especially the huge wall in the front.

In my previous post I talked about our "Great Experiment". Basically, which hurts more: putting in a ton of work on a project (physical/time pain), or writing a big check (financial pain)? The main reason behind this experiment is a general lack of both (time & money). If we had copious amounts of either one, the choice would be easy.

Also playing into our decision is our desire to be business owners. As a Robert Kiyosaki fan (see Cashflow Quadrant), I make a distinction between being self-employed and owning a business, and I want to own a business. Jim Collins makes a good analogy in Built To Last: You can either build a clock, or say the time out loud. Both have the same result - reporting the time - but one is building a system (business) while the other is a job (self-employed).

We want our real estate activities to be a business; a system where we hire excellent people to help with the activities. Hiring people to paint our place and install windows is an example of us treating our duplex like a business. We also have dreams of hiring business development people, maintenance staff, and tenant service representatives.

The trick to being a successful business is to provide enough value to our customers that we can actually afford to hire others. This is where Jessi and I get into long conversations about competitive advantages and value propositions. I love it; Jessi just wants it to be profitable without taking up all her time.

So, eventually we want to figure ways to only be writing checks. We're actively figuring out ways to do that. However, I think for the short-term, we'll have to use our time for most projects. Thankfully there's only one large project left (new windows on our side), and it'll be at least a year before we even think about attempting it.

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