What’s up Freedom Fighters! Hey, welcome back for another episode. Today is a pretty cool episode with my guest, Sam Thurmond! Sam joined our coaching program a couple of years ago with a few partners, and they had very little to no experience at that time. Now, a number of partners have left their jobs and become full-time real estate investors. These guys are doing well and working hard! Today, we talk about making the transition between leaving a job that you maybe don’t want anymore but gives you some comfort in staying there, and transitioning into real estate investing. It’s gonna be a good show! Let’s listen in!
Mike: What’s up, freedom fighters. Hey, welcome back for another episode. Today is going to be a pretty cool episode. I’m actually interviewing a guy, Sam Thurmond, that joined our coaching program a couple years ago and he has a few partners. They really had very little to no experience, at the time, and now, a number of the partners have left their jobs and become full-time real estate investors, and these guys are doing well, still working hard. But the show is going to be all about kind of making that transition between leaving a job, something that you maybe don’t want anymore but there’s some comfort in kind of staying there and transitioning into real estate investing. It’s going to be a good show.
Welcome to “Real Estate Investing Secrets.” We’re all looking for freedom and the opportunity to live better more fulfilling lives but most of us were trained our entire lives to work for someone else and chase their dreams. How can we use real estate investing as a vehicle to achieve financial freedom? My life is dedicated to answering your real estate-investing questions and helping you build an investing business that allows you to change your life and the world around you and to enable you to turn your dreams of financial freedom into a reality. My name is Mike Hambright from flipnerd.com, and your questions get answered here on the “Real Estate Investing Secrets” show. Hey, Sam, welcome to the show.
Sam: Hey, Mike. How’s it going?
Mike: Good, good. Good to have you on. This is kind of bittersweet. I’ve been coaching and mentoring people for a long time and the truth is is there’s always people that are more successful than others. There’s always people that kind of listen to what we teach more than others. And we’ve obviously become friends with you, and Travis, and Vic, and everybody. We’ve kind of become pretty tight. We’ve kind of stayed together through the years. And it’s awesome to kind of watch your transition away from . . . really you guys all had good jobs, right? It was never like . . . these were even good jobs, so it’s not like you were pumping gas or something, right? It was like good jobs that you could’ve lived a cushy corporate lifestyle that a lot of people do. But you just knew there was something better, right?
Sam: That’s right, yeah. Yeah, that’s exactly the case. I think we all had really good jobs. You know, from the outside looking in, people would’ve loved to be in our position. I worked from home, I had a lot of freedom, you know, made decent money, all that kind of stuff. But, at the end of the day, just like so many other people out there, I just felt like something was missing, as far as my professional career.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. As an entrepreneur, I’m sure you’ll agree with this, I feel the same way, it’s like I don’t want a box being put around me. Like I might put limitations on myself but I don’t want somebody else put limitations on me.
Sam:Right, yeah. Absolutely.
Mike:Including my wife, I don’t want her limiting me. That’s all another story.
Sam: Yeah. Good luck with that.
Mike: I’d get a [whole show 00:02:45] out of that one. But hey, before we kind of jump into this, talk about your background a little bit, kind of recent history and I guess where you first got your interest in real estate investing and kind of how you’ve transitioned here over the recent year I guess.
Sam: Sure. So we started . . . there are three of us, three partners total, and we started at the end of 2016, really started the conversation, at that point, as far as what we wanted to do. I had started a previous business on the side when I was working my full-time job, before we got into real estate. Because I knew, I had the entrepreneurial mindset, I knew I wanted to do something on my own. I didn’t want to work for somebody else my whole life. So I had already, you know, had my first failure I guess was working on that in 2016.
And then, I met Travis and, I had already known Vic, we went to the Air Force Academy together, and I was living in the same apartment complex with Travis. And Travis started to help me on this other venture, and then, I bought a house and got really interested in real estate. Travis had already been always been interested in real estate and we started having that conversation. And, at the time, Vic was living in California, and so we were also having these entrepreneur-type conversations. He was just graduating business school.
So the conversations were very frequent, we knew we wanted to do something. We were talking about real estate. And then, all the guys kind of came to Georgia and we were all in the same place finally. And that’s when we were introduced to you, Mike, and to your program and came on with the coaching program at the beginning of 2017. So, at that point, we had really only been interested . . . or I won’t say interested but focused on the real estate game for probably four months before we started the coaching program. And I want to say we started that in February of 2017, and then, from there, we just went all-in on the program. We really had very little experience but we went all-in on the program, followed what you guys said. Didn’t follow some of the key points and paid for it in the long run, which you’re well aware of. But yeah, it was just really a matter of just giving it our all. And we’re still learning. We’re still doing that.
Mike: Yeah. And since then, you’ve left your job . . . and I know Vic has just put in his notice to leave his job, and obviously, Travis is on his way to, hopefully, making that transition eventually too, so . . . The cool thing is, unlike most people, like you guys have this unusual friendship where you supported one another. You’re finding ways to like help each other, not just in the business, like . . . a lot of times, people come together as a business, they’re like, “Hey, our interests together are only the business,” but you guys really kind of cared about each other in term of making that personal transition too because it’s, you know . . . I mean the truth is is, even though we have businesses wrapped around us, as real estate investors and kind of any small-business entrepreneur, like this really becomes kind of all-consuming as to our life. And so, it’s kind of hard to separate your work from your personal life because this, ultimately, one way or another, largely, is your life. Right?
Sam: Yeah. Yeah, and if you love it, you know, why would you, honestly? And that’s really how we operate. I mean Travis slept on my couch for probably six months when he was trying to transition down to be in this area. Vic lived with me for six months when we were first getting started and getting our feet under it. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s like, you know, “These are my friends but these are my family too,” and it’s just a really unique relationship. Like any relationship, there’s ups and downs, there are struggles but, at the end of the day, you know, all three of us know that we have our backs. And, you know, our wives are close, girlfriends are close, families are like extended families. So really I’m so blessed, in that aspect, that, you know, I couldn’t ask for more.
Mike: So let’s talk about some of that a little bit more. Like there’s sacrifices, right? Like you said, Travis was sleeping on your couch and Vic was living with you for a while to make the transition. Like you guys were committed enough to do that. And what I’ve found is there’s a lot of people that say they want to be in real estate investing, they’re unhappy with where they’re at. But unless like they get spoon-fed something and they just like, you know, rub the genie bottle and they get this wish, that’s like instant success, which never happens, they’re not willing to make that jump. They’re just not willing to take the risk, even though they’re unhappy where they’re at. I mean talk about that a little bit. And why do you think so many people struggle with kind of unwillingness to take on some risk? Because the risk is there, let’s be honest.
Sam: Yeah. Well, that old saying, you know, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” And I think, you know, when we approached this, you know, we were successful enough, at that point in our lives, we were doing okay. And so, we were like, “Hey, let’s do this real estate thing. It can’t be that hard.” But, you know, along the road, you realize that the reason not everybody does is because you are going to face challenges. No doubt. If you’re going to be successful, just like in anything, you’re going to have to overcome some obstacles.
And also, you know, there’s a commitment on the front end really. You know, you put money out for marketing or put time out for marketing and you have to really carve out those different aspects of your life, whether it’s time with your family, time with friends, money out of your pocket to get started. All those things, they sound easy in the beginning but, you know, over time, it can kind of take a toll on you. So if you’re not in it to win it, then I think a lot of people kind of, you know, just fade into the distance because they just don’t have the staying power.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah, I think there’s things like, you know, HGTV. And those shows are entertaining but I think they’ve kind of conditioned people to believe that this is easy, you know, that the business is just taking an ugly house and making it pretty. The truth is is that business, ultimately, has very little to do with the houses. Right? It has to do with the systems and processes to bring you deals and have you kind of find a way to monetize those and get out of them and do it over and over and over again. Right?
Sam: Right, yeah. And being consistent and taking, you know, those systems and putting them in place. And not only putting them in place but running them the right way and doing things a certain way, doing it the right way and all the way to the finish line. Because I think what we found, and we’ve had some issues in the past, is we’ll have a good idea and we’ll put it in place, but then, we only go 75% of the way there and we don’t finish it out. And then, you know, that 25% . . . 20% comes back and bites you, in the end, and you realize, “Well, man, you know, I can’t keep making the same mistakes. I got to do it right. I got to do it all the way every time.”
Mike: Yeah, yeah. Talk a little bit about the commitment from a cash perspective or willingness to take . . . you know, sometimes you’ll have to take on debt, right? People buy businesses and they might borrow money or they might have to tap into resources that they really don’t want to. But there’s a commitment there to make an investment in yourself, in your business, and you can’t just say, “I want to be in business,” and open up a shop, like there’s a commitment to building that business. Right?
Sam: Yeah. Yeah, I think, you know, there are other ways to do it without putting out as much cash as, I’ll say, we did. But, just like we talked about with the program, going all in, we went all in with our wallets too and we cashed out retirement funds. Which, at the time, we weren’t educated on 401k, self-directed IRAs, and those sorts of things where maybe, at this point in time, we would’ve done some things differently.
But yeah, I think, when we started marketing, our budget was probably around 3,000 to 4,000 bucks a month. And, you know, each partner paying $1000 to 1,500 hundred bucks a month. And I think we got our first deal probably 3 to 4 months into marketing and we made about 15 grand on that one. But then, there was another dry spell because we were all working our jobs and we were kind of doing this, I’d say, on the side, but it didn’t have our full attention. So we had a little bit of a dry spell. We kind of paused on the marketing, which kind of . . . just we kicked the can down the road as far as having consistent cash flow.
And then, you know, you make mistakes, you don’t know what you don’t know early on either, and we’re still learning a lot of that stuff. But, on the front end, yeah, you need to have some cash if you’re going to go the direct-mail route or one of the paid routes first, you know, driving for dollars, which there are other options out there. But just be prepared, you know, to know that there is going to be a commitment on the front end for sure.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. So what are some things that people can do if they are in a job and they want to make that transition? And, you know, it’s never as smooth as I guess you would want, like there’s probably never a smooth process. It just has to be choppy and that’s the sacrifice you have to make. But how do you kind of smooth that out as much as you possibly can before somebody would kind of make the leap?
Sam: I think, you know, your network is so important. So having a support network, both, you know, in the house and outside, so your family and friends. But also having a good coach or a mentor out there that can kind of guide you, guide you through that process and keep you from making a lot of the missteps that, if you don’t have anyone out there that’s kind of looking over your shoulder or looking out for you, you’re definitely going to run into.
And back to the conversation about why don’t people make it, I think, a lot of times, folks are going on it on their own and they don’t have someone that’s helping them out. And then, they hit a lot of those snags that they weren’t prepared for. And, even if they wanted to keep going, it might sink them. So I think it’s so important to surround yourself with people who know more than you do, to be the dumbest person in the room is the best position to be in. So that’s huge, that’s huge.
And then, also having a little bit of a runway there to get yourself started. When I transitioned from my job, our partners and I, we agreed to have six months of cash runway for me, for my living expenses to live off of until we could have our consistent cash flow coming through the door. So that was huge. But again, it came down to the support that I was surrounded with.
Mike: Yeah. So I kind of want to break it down a little bit. So you said kind of, “Support at home,” which is really important, I want to come back to that, and support of your community. And, you know, you were part of our community, so you guys had questions and were constantly bantering inside of our Facebook group . . . there’s just some comfort from being around other people that are . . . not just, you know, we were a mentor and a coach to you guys, but also the community of other people that are on the same journey as you. Right? There’s some comfort in learning together and knowing you’re not alone. Right?
Sam: Yeah. Yeah, and we were talking about this at the last mastermind. I think you see everybody posts their checks online, you know, and they get their wholesale deals and everybody posts their checks and everything. And nothing wrong with that but I think it gives off the perception, just like all the social media, that everybody has their crap together, when the reality is is everybody’s messing up way more than they’re winning. And being surrounded by people who are going through the same stuff as you are, being open and being vulnerable with those people, and just having that option or opportunity to vent to them and share some of the struggle is huge.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. So talk about the support at home because I think there’s a lot of people that, you know, their spouses don’t necessarily support them. And sometimes it’s just because they don’t really understand what the person’s trying to do, right? They just like . . . it sounds crazy, and so they don’t really get it. But just talk about importance of that.
Sam: Yeah, my wife is actually the person who pushed me to do real estate. She knew that I had the itch to do it. She’s an entrepreneur herself, she has a branding business that she owns and operates and she’s also a musician, so she understands that side, you know, as far as an entrepreneur, what they encounter on a daily basis. And she also knows what she gains from it, from being her own boss. So I was lucky to have the support of my wife day one. And she was pushing me.
She could see that I wasn’t all that happy on my nine-to-five job and that I wanted something more. And so, she pushed me from day one and she’s been supportive. Again, the guys sleeping on my couch, that’s all because my wife allowed that to happen. She was cooking dinner and, you know, buying groceries and doing all that kind of stuff that she didn’t have to do, just because she’s just that supportive. So, again, I’m just so blessed that I have the people around me that I do.
But if you don’t have those open lines of communication and making sure that you’re leaning on each other, you know, you can get into trouble. And if you’re so totally engulfed in what you’re doing and you’re not including your spouse, or including your kids, or carving out time every day for them, then you can get in trouble because I think the work-life balance thing is very challenging.
And when you’re trying to build a business from scratch, you’re not going to have work-life balance really. And honestly, it’s tough to achieve that even when you are successful because it requires so much time and energy. And so, I think it’s super important to be efficient with your time and be disciplined about planning time for those important people and for those important times in your life to make sure that they’re getting the attention they need.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah, I don’t think this is necessarily for everybody but I think one thing that helps is is finding a way to really kind of explain your vision for your spouse or partner, whoever it is. And I think sometimes . . . like if you’re just wanting to jump out and you appear to have no plan, like you’re just going to figure it out from watching YouTube videos and [reading forums 00:17:16] or whatever, like your spouse probably doesn’t have as much support as whether compared to like . . . there’s a proven system that you’re following, other people have been a part of it. But also, I think maybe finding ways to . . . this may be not the case in your instance. I know Travis’s wife works in the business, is to like get your spouse involved in the business. It doesn’t mean that they have to be doing as much work as you but just some way that they kind of understand and see what you’re doing and can maybe even come help you hold yourself accountable a little bit.
Sam: Yeah, absolutely. And kick you in the butt when you need it. You know, I call my wife my Viking wife because, whenever there’s those moments that I’m just like, you know, ready to throw in the towel or just feeling sorry for myself, she gives me that kick in the butt that I need.
But you’re absolutely right, you can’t just expect them to be on board without communicating to them what your vision is and what your plan is and really partnering on that aspect, you know, because it affects them just as much as it affects you and your future. So yeah, it’s so important to include them in the day-to-day so they have a good understanding. Especially through those lean periods, you know, when they know things are kind of lean and don’t see the end in sight. So communication is key.
Mike: Yeah. You guys have . . . kind of refer to you guys sometimes as the three amigos or of course team Nitro has been one that [stuck a little bit 00:18:43].
Sam:That’s right. Yeah, Nitro.
Mike:But let’s talk a little bit about like your experiences with partners. Right? And some people don’t have that but do you think it makes sense for people sometimes to partner with somebody else that has that same dream or . . . there’s some challenges with that too. What are your thoughts on having partners, knowing that you do have partners, but pros and cons?
Sam: Yeah. It’s terrible. No, but for us it’s been great. I think I applaud people who do this on their own because it’s not easy. And having my partners there with me through the entire process to lean on, and for them to lean on me, has just been crucial. But, just like any relationship, it takes work, and where money is involved, and, you know, who’s doing what, and roles are still being formed, and, you know, the waters are still pretty muddy. I think that there are definitely challenging times when it comes to partnerships.
But, just like any relationship, you have to have super open lines of communication. You have to tell somebody when they piss you off and they have to be able to tell you and you all have to be willing to work on it. But, from a support standpoint, having partners has been crucial for me, not only just to spread the wealth but just to keep each other motivated.
And like we talked about earlier, we’re involved in . . . we’re friends, we’re partners, but, before that, we were friends. Above being partners, we are friends. And so, that was always important to us to make sure that we never lost sight of that going through this business. You know, we didn’t know what this was going to turn into but we knew that we wanted to be lifelong friends, so we’ve always made sure that we, you know, if something, somebody is getting under our skin, that we raise the issue, talk about it, iron it out, and then, move forward. So there are definitely challenges there but the benefits have far outweighed the challenges.
Mike: Yeah. And this business, unlike, you know, probably a lot of businesses, have some real obvious ways to split up responsibilities. There’s kind of like acquisition side versus the disposition side. There’s someone could be the acquisitions manager and somebody’s like more of like back-office side, somebody’s responsible for sales, somebody that’s responsible for construction. Like there’s some real kind of . . . if you were like to think of this as a big company like departments, like it’s actually fairly departmentalized, right?
Sam: Right. Yeah, the way that we have it set up now is I’m on the acquisition side. So I’m going on the appointments, I’m getting the properties on contract and seeing them all the way to the close on the purchase end. And then, Travis is kind of project managing some rehabs. And we also have a really great partnership with the brokerage here locally that they kind of took us under their wing, from a construction standpoint, because the broker’s husband is a general contractor in our area. So we partnered with them both to kind of guide us through the flip process and have more hands-on. Travis runs that. And then, we list all of our properties through that brokerage.
And Vic does a lot of the back-end stuff, like you’re talking about, the taxes, accounting process. His background is in process implementation and improvement, so we’re lucky to him to kind of provide some oversight and ask the questions, “Why are you doing this this way? Should we think about it in a different way?” So everybody plays their role.
Mike: Yeah. That’s awesome, that’s awesome. And I think that’s an important thing is . . . and you guys might understand this better than most, having a military background, but everybody has a role and they need to kind of intertwine together. I think sometimes what people do is they partner with people that are just like them and they have the same skill set as them. And that causes problems sometimes because you’re like neither of you want to do the back-office stuff, you just want to be on the acquisition side. And it’s like, “No, we don’t need two of those. We need one of these and one of those.” Right?
Sam: Right, yeah. Yeah, we complement each other very well, I think we have very different personalities, as you know, but the thing that kind of binds us together is we’re all very strong-minded and opinionated when it comes to making decisions and that sort of thing. But we always refer to Travis as kind of the gas pedal. He’s go-go-go. Vic’s more of the brake guy, “Put on the brakes and let’s ask some questions and get some more detail.” And then, I’m kind of the fence rider. I see both sides. I’m in between and kind of provide, you know, that extra little 10% on either one of their ideas. So we work really well together, even though our personalities are a lot different.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. So, Sam, any kind of final words of wisdom for people that are wanting to get . . . I find there’s so many people that want to get started in real estate investing and they just don’t know where to jump off. We talked about this a little bit, but anything else we missed that you want to share?
Sam: Yeah. If you’re just trying to get started, I would just say, “Kick up some dust.” Just get out and talk to people, immerse yourself in the real estate game, you know, look for the meetups. If there isn’t a meetups, start one yourself. You don’t have to know anything. All you really need is just that desire to get started and the people you will attract, the people that you need to do that. So yeah, just get busy, don’t have paralysis by analysis. It’ll come to you. As long as you put the work in, it’ll come.
Mike: Awesome, awesome. And, Sam, if folks wanted to get a hold of you, where would they go to connect with . . . I know you guys are doing some more stuff on social media, sharing some stuff. Where’s the best place to go?
Sam: Well, our business name is Runway Properties, our website’s runwaypropertiesllc.com. We also have, on the wholesaling side, our wholesale business is North Georgia Home Buyers and we have a Facebook page for that as well. And just our personal Instagram, so we post a lot . . . our personal Instagram and Facebook, we post a lot on there. But yeah, that’s really about it.
Mike: I’ll track down some links and add them in the show notes there, so . . . Sam, thanks for spending some time with us today.
Sam: Yeah, Mike. Thanks for having me.
Mike: Always great to see you. And for those that are listening, if you haven’t yet subscribed to us on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, YouTube, any of those places, we’d love it if you subscribe, follow along. We’ve been doing this for five and a half years now, so we’re going to keep these shows coming at you for sure. So if you subscribe, give us some positive reviews, we’d appreciate that if you got some value out of this. That’s kind of the fuel that keeps pushing us forward.
So, Sam, thanks again for sharing some insights there. And for those that are looking to get started in real estate investing or you’ve done a few deals and you’re looking to kind of make that transition to do this full-time, we’d love to help play a role. Now, I’ve been coaching and mentoring people for 10 or 11 years. You can learn more about it at flipnerd.com/coaching. Till the next episode, keep on fighting for freedom. Will see you.
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