This is episode #360, and my guest is Bryan Powers.
In just a few short years, Bryan and his partners have been able to build a real estate business around their lifestyles that is allowing them to travel and do what they want…something we all desire.
Today we talk about the concept of “Lifestyle by Design”, and how to build a business that allows you to live life on your own terms.
Life is too short to not enjoy it, to not spend time with friends, family and what matters most to you. If you’re not where you want to be, listen to this show…and take action to design your own lifestyle.
Mike: This is the flipnerd.com Expert Real Estate Investing Show, the show for real estate investors, whether you’re a veteran or brand new. I’m your host, Mike Hambright and each week I bring you a new expert guest that will share their knowledge and lessons with you. If you’re excited about real estate investing, believe in personal responsibility, and taking control of your life and financial destiny, you’re in the right place.
This is episode number 360 and my guest is Bryan Powers. In just a few short years, Bryan and his partners have been able to build a real estate business around their lifestyles that is allowing them to travel and do whatever they want. It’s something that we all desire.
Today, we talk about the concept of lifestyle by design and how to build a real estate business that allows you to live life on your terms. Life is too short to not enjoy it and not spend time with family and friends, and whatever matters most to you. So, if you’re not where you want to be, listen to today’s show and take action to design your own lifestyle. Life is just too short. Please help me welcome Bryan Powers to the show. Bryan, welcome to the show.
Bryan: Thanks, Mike. Glad to be here on your show.
Mike: Yeah. Well, I know we were originally going to interview your partner, Chad and he’s in . . . is he in Montana or Wyoming? He’s out somewhere, but I get a chance to talk to you.
Bryan: He’s in Durango, Colorado.
Mike: Oh, okay. I was in Durango last year. Durango was awesome.
Bryan: Really? I’ve never been. We’re going to Colorado Springs. I’m meeting him up there, a meeting there like in two and a half weeks or so.
Mike: Yeah. Durango . . . yeah, we go for about 12 years in a row. In the summer we go out to Vail and Beaver Creek area which we love, but it’s very kind of [inaudible 00:02:01] and stuff like that like, Durango is off the beaten path and lots of cool stuff going on there. But it’s a lot harder to get to. So it’s a lot more stereotypical kind of noncommercialized Colorado. So pretty cool scenery out there for sure.
Bryan: Yeah. We get to drive the big RV, pulling the jeep behind them on like a 10 degree grade which is pretty steep. So the more [inaudible 00:02:31] out there I guess.
Mike: Yeah, for sure. It’s a little . . . well, Bryan, before we get started today, I’m excited to talk about this topic because I think at the end of the day that’s what we’re all here for is to build a business that supports our life. And sometimes it’s hard to get there, but we’re going to talk about and maybe share some tips on how people can have a better chance of doing that.
So, before we get started maybe tell us about your background because one thing that I think should inspire people that are listening today is you haven’t been an investor for all that long. Yet you found a way to quickly create a business that allows you to have a lifestyle that you want. So, maybe share your background and when you got started and how you got started, and how you got where you are today.
Bryan: Yeah, you bet. You know, interestingly enough I’ve been in restaurants for 22 years prior to getting in real estate and I worked in them, I had owned some towards the end. And in the end I was trying to become a McDonald’s next generation owner operator. And so, with that process it was a just a super long process. I was five years, six years into it.
About a month away from turning in my final application to try and get approved, and about a year prior to that I had started investing in real estate to try and impress McDonald’s with my ability to do some stuff and realized at that time that I actually enjoyed real estate more than I enjoyed pursuing that career with the golden arches.
So taking it back to 2013, I had a dentist friend of mine that we went and had dinner and he said, “Man, have you ever read this book called ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’?” And I had never even heard of it. I mean, this is how cliché my story is, right? And so, I was intrigued by this book he was reading and I went home, I downloaded the book. I started reading it that night. I loved the book so much I finished it in three days and jumped on to “The Cashflow Quadrant.” Read another book by a guy named Gary Eldred called “Real Estate Investing” and this is in January of 2013.
By March, I’d started an LLC and I actually hired a mentor because I was uncertain about how to really go forward. I was jumping on webcasts and doing the same stuff that everyone else does. But just didn’t feel comfortable enough pulling the trigger. And still even with a mentor, I did not pull the trigger until June of 2013 being very cautious about what I’m doing.
So one of the big things that got me to pull the trigger is my mentor at the time said, “You need to join your local real estate investor group.” And there I met who are now my business partners. I had no idea that someday that I’d be doing it full time and end partnering with the guys that run the REIA. But I have an operational background and they had a kind of a missing gap in their business. What they did at that time though is, they kind of brought me and they taught me how to do their model of real estate investing.
I was already kind of learning wholesaling and starting to do some marketing for wholesaling and I knew some people that I could borrow private money from. And so, I was able to do my first deal with a private money person that leant me $70,000 which to a lot of new people seems like a lot of money. But the reality is there are a lot of people that want somebody like us to actually do all the work. And they are happy to give the money as long as they get that first lien position, right?
And assuming knowing at that time, what I was doing was my credit was good and so, I was able to the cash out strategy where basically I bought the property with somebody else’s money. I rehabbed it with their money and I failed miserably. But the appraisal came in good and I was able to cash out the investor and I said . . . I actually pulled it off and we made it happen. But most of it was just through the guidance of these local guys that were kind of given me free advice.
And by the end of 2013, I had done it three more times. So I had four properties in my portfolio and by the end of 2013, I decided I might consider doing this full time. And so, I hired a different mentor who’s pretty well known in the industry. And he helped me really kind of realize what my why was and that was a big part of making the decision to stop doing what I was doing in one area of my life and start doing things for the right reason.
It was literally enough to like, brought me to tears. I’m not a big crier, but it was enough that I realized that I needed to make a change in my life and start doing stuff for the right reasons. And that type of inspiration was what really guided me to build what is now about a 400 unit portfolio with [inaudible 00:07:26]
Mike: Yeah. That’s awesome. And also as I was talking to somebody yesterday. I can’t remember who this was, or where this was, but it was the context of when you become successful as a real estate investor is that a lot times when you’re first getting started your intention is to build something that will allow you to have a lifestyle, live the life you want. The challenges I think when you kind of get to where your goal . . . like originally you have a goal, when you get there sometimes as real estate investors we’re like, or is entrepreneurs, we want to go take it to a whole other level. Like, “How do I . . . I’ve kind of got, my lifestyle is good. I’m not in survival mode anymore. I live a nice life.”
So how do I take it to . . . lot of times we get caught up in like, trying to take it to a whole other level which we got what we said we wanted which is the lifestyle, but then it’s like that wasn’t . . . it’s not that it’s not good enough, it’s like, you want a challenge, right? And so, I always admire the people, they kind of get to a point where they’re like, “Hey, man, I got to where I’m at and I find other things to do with my time, but I don’t necessarily have to go conquer a new world.” Not that that’s a bad thing. But talk about that kind of dichotomy because I think a lot of entrepreneurs are like that.
If you said, “I want a certain lifestyle,” and then you get there and you’re like, “Well, I want something that’s like 10 times more than this now.” So, kind of talk about that challenge I guess as an entrepreneur and maybe if you face that yourself.
Bryan: Yeah. I mean, that’s a great question. Through owning some different businesses I was kind of the backwards real estate investor. I had a pretty good income. And so, I would sacrifice the income and taking a risk of jumping into real estate because I really wanted something different. My time became more valuable than the money.
And this mentor that I had, this might give away who it was, but he said, “Those people who chase money, money runs and people that chase their passion, their why, and doing things for the right reason, money can’t help but to follow.” And that hit me. It hit my gut pretty hard. And I started realizing that if I just chased what I really, really wanted, it was trying to do the things I wanted to do in my life, to do be a good dad, to be able to make an impact on the world in the short time that we have. Time became of a huge value to me.
And so, almost everything that we did when I merged with my business partners, when we had our initial meetings, it had very little to do with what were we going to do in the business. It was what type of people we were going to hire, what type of business did we want so that we could help people become a better version themselves I guess is part of our business. So, we just kind of took the business from a different angle and the success came as the result of focusing on that first. So I’m super blessed to have it.
Mike: Yeah. That’s awesome, that’s awesome. Maybe give some advice to people that know that they want something better than what they have now, they can imagine, “Hey, I want to work three days a week and I want to be able to travel with my family. I want my kids go to private school.” Whatever, people can envision that. But sometimes I think people get stuck on, they know they want something better than what they have now, they know they don’t want what they have now maybe, but they don’t necessarily know what it is that they want. They just know they want more or they want better.
And so, kind of maybe give some advice on how people can figure out what it is that they want because then you clearly have to know what you want so that you can then build a strategy to get to it, right? So maybe talk about that first part about really defining what it is that you want and being realistic about it as well.
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Mike: Really defining what it is that you want and being realistic about it as well.
Bryan: Yeah, you bet. I’ll tell you what, for me it was just having enough humility to finally say, “I don’t have what I want. But there are somebody else that does and I’m willing to accept advice.” And it’s almost kind of this action of just putting up a white flag and saying, “I’m not where I want to be. And I’m willing to just reach out there hardcore and ask people, ‘What books did you read?'”
You know, a lot of people that do what we do they . . . I mean, the best mentors I’ve had I’ve paid really good money for those mentors. But a lot of people, just finding successful people in your life and saying, “How did you do it? What really motivated you to do it?” Most the time it isn’t the money on the front end. Once somebody became successful it was something different. But for me I read a number of different books, I’ve been with four different mentors now and all in different areas of my life. Some of them have nothing to do with real estate.
[inaudible 00:13:19] This has been phenomenal. Also involved in another mastermind led by another guru, if you will, out there. And all of these things just keep me on top of my game. So, I’m constantly trying to become better regardless of where I think I’m at and try to stay humble through the process so that I’m always learning and don’t think I have all the answers.
Mike: Yeah. And once you kind of have your vision of where you want to go, so, I would encourage most people like, I mentor and coach people. I’ve had people that are before, they’re making $80,000 a year and I say, “Well, what would you like to accomplish by the end of your first year?” And they say, “I want to make a half million dollars.” It’s like, “Okay. I’m not saying you can’t do that. It’s very doable in this business.”
But sometimes people just say, “I don’t really want what I have.” Like, that person in particular would probably first like to have made $80,000 or $100,000 and just have a much better life. I’m not saying that you can’t make a half million dollars in real estate. Clearly, you can do that. Okay? But sometimes people set a goal so high that’s so far beyond where they are right now and I’m not saying not to dream big.
But sometimes people I fear set themselves up for failure by having it so far beyond where they are right now that they give up at the first sign of like, “Well, I may not get quite there.” So there’s a balance there somewhere. Would you agree with that?
Bryan: Definitely. And I think there’s a part . . . I mean, some people out there, you might have heard, “the seven layers deep.” Right? I mean, you ask yourself why five to seven times, “Why do you want the money?” “Well, I want the money because I want to have freedom.” “Why do you want the freedom?” You know, “So I can spend more time with my family.” “Why do you want to spend more time with your family?” So that you can raise your kids to be a great version of themselves. You know, “Why do you want to do that?” So you can have an impact on the world.
All of a sudden you get to a different point where it wasn’t really about the money. The money was a vehicle to get you to where you want to be, but the why is truly what drives you to achieve it. Because now, once you’ve gotten five to seven layers deep you’re focused on something other than the money. And that’s when the money seems to follow. It’s once you’ve really identified that and your action path follows the why and not the money.
Mike: Yeah, for sure.
Bryan: That’s my experience at least.
Mike: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And what would you say . . . actually, I know you guys have built up a solid team that’s allowing you to be in the Ozarks right now, allowing your partners to travel and do things with their family. And so, there’s no doubt that any of us that are looking to build more of a business around our lifestyle need to have somebody that’s running the business when you’re not there, right? Or allowing you to have those flexibilities and those freedoms. And so, talk about the importance of building a team around your vision and give some tips for how others can maybe start to execute that as well.
Bryan: Yeah, sure. And so many people are trying to do this backwards. They try and hire the right person that they think is going to make them the most money. And, I had a mentor that said, “You can’t really decide who you want on your team if you don’t have core values.” Now, if you don’t have a list of about five or six things that your company truly stands for and a type of person that you want attached to your organization, dealing with your clients. For us we embraced our core values, we post them everywhere. It’s the questions we ask when we’re interviewing somebody.
They’re basically the same questions we take somebody through in the review process, goals and strategies, and actions that they need to take on how to get there coupled with how well are we doing with our core values. Starting kind of with the end in mind when we hire someone has allowed us to develop a team because we really learn the hard way.
I’m not going to lie and say, when we first started we would hire somebody because we had a need and they said yes. And we realized that we would hire fast and fire slow. And we’ve kind of flipped that model to say, “We hire slow and fire fast.” Unfortunately, we haven’t had to make any terminations in a long time to build the team that we have today. We embrace players in culture, an environment where people get to make the decisions.
I will tell you this, every employee I have right now that does a certain job does it better than I could do it or I was ever able to do it personally. And I’m not ashamed to say it. I’m just proud of the team that we have and because we give them the freedom to be just better and better at what they do, their culturing a great environment for us.
And I would also say in the back end, you know, we truly care about their well-being. So, a lot of the conversations we have one-on-one. I mean, I know most, everything that’s going on in the personal lives of my employees whether I like it or not. It’s more than being just a boss, but a mentor as well in trying to allow them to find out what their why is and what they want to achieve in their lives, and kind of helping them bridge the gap which the cool thing is we’re starting to do that within real estate. We have our own employees buying real estate and building their retirements and their dreams right now because they’ve learned a lot of the tools in the business with us.
Mike: Yeah. That’s awesome. And I think so many people have like a scarcity mentality where they’re afraid that if I teach somebody too much or if I give them too much flexibility to go make things happen for us, then they’re just going to leave me and go do it for themselves. And I know that a lot of real estate investors struggle with that.
But the truth is is if you don’t allow people to kind of hit their goals and their dreams and even think about it or you’re not even aware of it, then they’re going to . . . they still have those hopes and dreams, they’re just going to accomplish them without you. And so, yeah, that’s an important lesson for a lot of people to figure out how to help others achieve their dreams and their goals, and what they want while, if you can, on the path to your vision, and your goals and dreams. Right?
Bryan: Absolutely. Yeah. That’s the truth. It’s just working the model kind of in reverse. I never really liked being an employee per se, but being a member of the team I think is more what we try and harness there. They’re a team member, we all play equals, we don’t try to hold the golden gauntlet over everyone. I try and lead before we . . . leading with the iron fist. So, not effective for us.
Mike: So we haven’t talked much about your . . . your business model is largely turnkey. And so, your business model is largely turnkey. So, you’re basically when you sell turnkey rental properties to other investors that you then manage for them. But obviously a part of the model is to help other people build wealth and build freedom through real estate, and you help facilitate that. We already talked about your employees, how you’re helping them meet their goals, and you’re a living example of living kind of, importance of your lifestyle by all the things we talked about previously.
So, talk about just kind of turnkey as the linchpin in this whole model for everybody that you touch is kind of either involves helping other people achieve their lifestyle or helping your own team achieve their lifestyles. Just talk about the importance of that . . . of your primary focus really being turnkey, turnkey rentals, that is.
Bryan: Yeah. You know, honestly, we got into turnkey almost by accident. We had obviously heard of turnkey real estate as the real estate investors, but it wasn’t our initial goal. Our initial goal was to build a whole portfolio that was [inaudible 00:21:22], it gave us that level of financial freedom.
What we found out that in doing that was in building it, you build an amazing personal financial portfolio which is only valuable if it could be liquidated. And so, we decided that we would start selling stuff off turnkey. We had all the moving parts in the business, we have an acquisitions department that’s basically wholesaling and we do wholesale to other investors. But we buy probably ten a month from ourselves.
And so, we have our in-house construction team and a project management that works for us in-house. And we had our in-house property management, it pretty much stopped there once it got in property management. And we said, well, what if . . . we already have the moving parts, we already have the assets, they’re already cash flowing, we can already tell what’s been done to the house, what the performance of the property is. There’s investors especially on the coast, but really all over the world that are looking for Midwest properties and we’ve got a few hundred of them what we would be able to turnkey.
And so, we started kind of reaching out and joined up with some aggregators and stuff like that. It really aligned with once we’ve really determined what our uniques were, who we really are, what we stand for as a company. It was easy to say that what we do is bridge the gap to the financial freedom. So, I mean, we can take a tenant or one of our residents on the front end and try and bridge the gap between them getting their first asset which is getting them into home ownership.
We’d like to do lease options and we actually like to convert the lease option. So we try to bridge all of the resources that it would take. Credit counseling, legal services, all that we’re putting all this together, really fine tuning it. We also had the credit and we always had bankers on the end that would help people beyond what a traditional lending institution would be able to help get these people into these homes and buy them.
On the back end of course we can turnkey a lease option and our group performs about 20% better than a regular rental in our market. So, for the investor on the end it truly ends up being a win, win, win, win, win all the way across the board because we can sell them turnkey for less than what the lease option contract price is. So even if somebody executes, they get the opportunity to turnaround, take a little cash, and be able to reinject it by another turnkey property that might be another lease option.
We do do some rentals because we do some turnkeys for people that they just want to own a rental property. They don’t ever want anyone to execute the option. So our mix of applicable properties is probably somewhere around like a 40/60 mix of a turnkey or a lease options versus rentals.
But, I mean, you know, it’s nice to be able to kind of bridge that gap and there are a lot of people out there that want to invest in real estate, but they’re scared of all moving parts. They don’t know how to find the property, they’re scared of contractors, and construction, and rightfully so. And property management is a difficult business. And so, if somebody’s taking care of all those moving parts, our people just get the check at the end.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Well, in the context of our listeners, if somebody is listening to this that wants to go down the path of building a business around their lifestyle, I know we could spend a week on this. Right? But where do they go to get started to go from wherever they’re at today to defining what it is that they want their lifestyle to be like.
And sometimes people define like, “What is my perfect day, what is my perfect year.” Right? So, what do I want my life to look like and then charting a path to get there. So maybe just in a few minutes, share how people can kind of take what they’ve heard here today or the lessons that you’ve learned, and be able to implement some of the things we talked about here today.
Bryan: Yeah. Well, I mean, there’s so many people out there that start with the kind of the end and a lot of people get into real estate and think you can just bridge that gap instantly. And I will tell that everyone that this certainly didn’t come without just an immense amount of hard work. Being comfortable enough taking risks that felt really uncomfortable and just going through it, accepting failure as just something that happens in the process of getting better at what we do.
And all of that it’s just that resilience piece and just getting out there and doing it even . . . I’ve never met a real estate investor that just succeeded time after time after time after time. They had some failures in there and they were resilient enough to just pick themselves up and do it again because they knew that it was possible. Accept the fact that we’re fallible, we all make mistakes and just hopefully learn from them. Don’t make the same mistake twice. I say, I probably made as many mistakes as I’ve had successes and thank God my successes were bigger than my failures because I would usually learn from the mistakes.
And I mean, the best thing to do is just start like everyone else. I mean, if you have a mentor that’s telling you to do things that have been successful in their business, you just do them. You don’t try and reinvent the wheel or everyone wants to think that their market is different. I’ve been through that whole same thing.
I’m a small Midwest market. I’m not the same as being in Dallas or Houston or even St. Louis or Kansas City in my market are and that’s just not true. I mean, the things that are successful in other markets work very well in my market, but not to say that there aren’t some specific things with my market that might work better. I mean, for example, direct mail is more successful than pay-per-click in my market. In a bigger market it might be different.
But we try all of it to what our return on investment is, on everything and just take personal responsibility for every part of the business that we have access to.
Mike: Awesome, awesome. Well, Bryan, if folks want to learn more about you or about your business, about things you’re working on, where would they go to learn more?
Bryan: We have a general website called gotofhs. My company’s name is Family Home Solutions. So, it’s gotofhs, as in Family Home Solutions. That will connect to about everything that we do. Our turnkey company is called Aspire 2 Own and that’s aspire2own.com. And there’s a list of turnkey properties on there.
My business partner, Chad, he’s actually the homelessrealestateinvestor.com and most of that kind of ties into our turnkey business of kind of marketing the life by design. You know, he’s kind of the truth of what happens when you have a bunch of cash flowing properties that are bringing in a paycheck whether you’re there or not. I will say he does work pretty hard from the road. He manages all of our finances and private money, all of our investors all across the country. And so, the cool thing is that he can just do his job from anywhere.
Kind of like me here, you know, after this I’ll be building out a Smartsheets work flow and it doesn’t matter from here or in the office. As a matter fact, I probably get more done sitting here than I do with the distractions. But every now and then, we’ve got to plug ourselves into the environment to be a part of the team and help build the team. All that [inaudible 00:29:02] I think it covers all of our websites.
Mike: Awesome, awesome. I was going to say, I know that truthfully I think that my team gets a lot more done when I’m gone like, I just kind of get in the way or I interject new ideas that are just a distraction and stuff like that. So, no doubt about it that it’s not necessarily a bad thing for us to be out of the office, right?
Bryan: Do it going through the process of [inaudible 00:29:29] traction. We go through that process. We realized that we have three visionaries in our business and we have some integrator in our business that are great at implementing certain things and it seems like, we come back from the mastermind and we start throwing all these new ideas out. And often times we do, we just get in the way of our business and the work flow of it, and we have to just kind of let our people be the experts and trust that they know what they’re doing better than we do sometimes.
Mike: Absolutely. Well, Bryan, thanks for being with us today. Definitely, I appreciate your time and sharing your stories. This is great stuff. We definitely appreciate it.
Bryan: Glad to be on, Mike. Thanks for the invite.
Mike: Awesome, and enjoy that weather out there. It looks like it’s awesome.
Bryan: Yeah, it’s a great day. It’s a beautiful day in the Ozarks.
Mike: Awesome. Well, everybody that’s joining us, this is episode 360 of the FlipNerd Expert Interview Show. I appreciate you listening in. I want to kind of slip in here that I’ve been forgetting to ask about this lately, but if you could please go out and give us a rating on the iTunes, Stitcher radio, wherever you listen to your podcast. I would appreciate you giving us a rating and some feedback. It kind of helps inspire me to keep plowing forward and doing what we do here after 360 episodes so far. So appreciate everybody listening in and thanks for joining. We will see you next time. Have a great day.
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