Written by Jeffrey R. Armstrong – President/Owner of Armstrong Capital
Your favorite Master Note Buyer – Straightforward, Honest, Fair…
I’ve always been know for speaking my mind and telling it like it is in a straightforward honest and fair way, so I’m not going to sugar coat this article. The note business is a real business and if you are considering starting your own one person operation Note Business, be ready to put in a lot of sweat and tears. If it is the life you really want, it will be worth the effort. In the end, the struggle itself will seem more like a reward in hindsight.
Starting and successfully operating a note business can be an overwhelming task for anyone especially trying to operate it as a one person operation. When running a note business, no job is beneath you. No matter what your level of expertise or training, essential functions require you do tackle even the most menial tasks. You don’t have to like it, but if you want to cover your costs, make a profit and be successful you do have to swallow your pride once in awhile, that is if you want to eat.
Often in a note business, problems will arise that can interrupt your entire operation. The pressure will be on for you to perform, and in many cases, your future literally will depend on it. When running your own one person note business, sometimes you have to be in charge while others you will have to accept a lesser role. Don’t blur the lines between a working relationship and friendship. We work with lots of different investors, title companies, appraisal companies, servicing companies and the like and they are going to grumble at times, don’t argue with them, assert your position in a kind yet firm way, and keep moving forward. Do not burn your bridges ever; the note industry is just too small.
With that said, with 21 years under my belt as a one person note business “solopreneur” I may have a few things I can share with you to help you on your path to success. Are you struggling to stay focused, on track, and productive as a one person note business working for yourself? When people hear that I work from home the two most common responses are “I could never do that!” and “How do you do it?!” Well the short answer is, with a little help from technology and the people I have surrounded myself with my team of supporters.
Technology has definitely been a huge help in compiling tools for the one person note business. Here are some tools that I use and may help any “solopreneur” working for themselves.
Google Contacts – I use Google Contacts to keep track of most of my contacts. I have an Android phone so it syncs nicely and I have everything I need on the go. It’s super easy to search, you can store a ton of information, and it’s free.
Google Calendar – Google Calendar keeps my life in order. If it isn’t in my calendar, I will almost definitely forget about it. I love using Google Calendar because I can access it from anywhere, it syncs with Smartphone’s (I-Phone, Android, iPod Touch, etc.), it has reminders (!!), and I can invite people to events such as parties or conference calls. Google Calendar is also super flexible and can interact with other project management and “to do” tools.
Excel – I jumped into Excel a couple of years ago and use it a ton now! Seriously, I cannot get enough of it. I use Excel to make my budgets, to track income, to estimate taxes, to determine how much I should “pay” myself. I can’t recommend Excel enough and also know I taught myself what I use and do with Excel. I KNOW there are a ton of other things it can do, so if you are an Excel wizard, kudos to you! As an alternative to Excel, Google Documents can work for some of these things too.
PayPal – PayPal is an online staple. It makes buying products easier for you and it’s an easy way to receive money. This is especially true if you’re just starting out and are working remotely with folks. You don’t need a full fledged credit card processor but many folks will appreciate the ease of not having to write and mail (or find!) a check.
In addition to technology, you need form a team of individuals that are experts in their field and available to help you in note business. In the Note Business these individuals might include note buyers, investors, funding sources, appraisers, title companies, processors, servicing companies, attorneys, accountants, other consultants, real estate brokers, escrow companies, computer technicians and even software experts. As you grow your business you will quickly learn which individuals you will need to be on your team. You might also have a Master Buyer, mentor, coach or investor that is a current practitioner in the note business and willing to hold your hand and help you along the way.
The team that I now have has been added to and changed over the years as my business grew and changed. I can remember that one of my first team members was my Accountant. I have been with the same accountant now for 27 years.
Another member of my team is a nationwide Appraisal Company. When you are buying and brokering real estate notes all over the country you need to be able to make one phone call or send one email to get a quick appraisal or BPO (Broker’s Price Opinion). You want to know that you will have what you ordered in a timely fashion and that it will be objective and accurate. .
The next member of my team is a nationwide Title Company. A good title company can save you a lot of money in the long term and wasted time in the short term. Being able to contact a title company and speak to a person about a particular title question is invaluable to a note buyer.
After 15 years of stuffing, licking and sticking my own direct mail pieces I finally broke down and brought on a Mail House to do my direct mail marketing for me. I gave them the standards and requirements that I was accustomed to (I’m a bit particular) and so far they have been a wonderful addition to my team.
For many years I processed all of my own transactions both the ones I bought and brokered. I did everything from gathering copies of documents and information to ordering appraisals and title commitments, clearing title problems, preparing documents and finding lost notes. Then I hired a competent and reputable Processing and Servicing Company. Not only do they do all of the items I just mentioned but then they service (collect the payments) on the notes I purchase as well!
Your team might have different positions on it than my team or another person’s team and that’s ok. You are the only one who truly knows what your business needs are, which skills you possess and which skills and tasks you need assistance with. In the world of the note business, you have to pick yourself up from failures, no matter the reason, and move on. The decision to run your own one person note business as a “soloprenuer” is a choice regarding how you choose to live your life. You have to believe that you can make it rain and be persistent until it pours!
Remember, success demands action! Keep on marketing, it’s going to work! TWITA! (That’s What I’m Talking About!) J