Fatherpreneur.com

My journey of balancing small business and small kids


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Reflecting on a stressful 2014 or was it?

Over the past few weeks I have begun to feel a stress unlike any I have during my journey as a parentpreneur.  The end of year approaching should be a time of excitement and joy. The anticipation of time off around the corner should light up my smile like the lights on our Christmas tree, yet I have found myself buried under the stress of work and worry. The end of the year for many entrepreneurs has us looking at the finances, goals, and in my case projects wrapping up. Projects don’t always coincide with the year end, but in my case I have two that have been inching a long for the better part of seven months coming to a close. Finishing is not my strong suit, I’m a starter by nature which may explain why I go so long between posts.

This year has been interesting fun and stressful year. We had a lot going on, in fact it’s probably been to much. Buried under my own self talk and stress I was glad to have a great call with my coach who reminded me of how good the year has been. I beat last year’s income (not necessarily profit), opened a real estate franchise office and quadrupled our agent count albeit from two to eight,  I think on some level that may be the hardest jump. The momentum should help us grow quicker next year. We also will finish our strongest year building homes.  The conversation with my coach was a good one because it helped pull me out of the muck of the day to day. When I get lost in the stress of all that has to get done with work and then helping manage a household, raise two kids and support my wife in her growing business it all seems to much. I think about shutting it down some days and just going back to a job where the weekends are really free. I have come close on a few occasion especially with the late night client calls and text ,the weekends full of questions and working with someone for months only to have them use some one else with out a second thought. When I’m caught in the stress I only see the bad, I don’t see the wonderful clients, the great conversations, the fun weekends, the hundreds of people we help employee through building. The stress causes me to lose sight of the dream that drives me, the desire to build a business that helps fellow real estate agents change their careers and lives.

It’s nice to have someone remind me of what we have accomplished instead of what feels sometimes like a series of short comings. Maybe it’s the nature of an entrepreneurs to strive to the next level all the while forgetting the level you’re on is last year’s next level. Andy Andrews says that those who can get through the fog of life seasons will be the one’s to see the reward on the other side. Well, I have turned my fog lights on and I’m going to power through.

This year end take time to review what you have accomplished. Maybe your income went up or down, think about what caused these results. What struggles did you have to deal with that you overcame? Sometimes familial changes or stress can cause your business to slip. I had a daughter in the hospital twice this year causing a new source worry and anxiety. Thankfully all is well, but I can tell you my results during that time were less than stellar financially. However I managed to push thru and I was there for my family when they needed me and that’s more important than a few extra sales.

Before you plan 2015 take a few minutes to review 2014. You may find that you accomplished more than you know and overcame some obstacles that taught you great lessons. The pain and stress are hard at the moment, but the lessons learned can be invaluable if utilized. It’s in the pain that we grow and its on reflection you get the knowledge of such growth.  The wisdom gained in a stressful year will only help to handle the next year better and so on. What once was stressful when faced again is less stressful.

Ask yourself the following questions?

1. What three situations did I overcome that helped me grow? What did I learn about myself in these situations?

2. In 2014 what worked well in my business and family and how can I make it better in 2015?

3. What are three areas I can improve that would make my work and family life better? Are there simple things I can implement like getting a maid for home and new technology for the office? What are some longer term strategies I need to get started on now to have ready for 2016?

This reflection is key to setting goals for 2015. Apply these thoughts to every area of your life.  You may find that 2014 was not as stressful as it seemed in the moment or that it may have been a year of great growth.  The story of your 2014 is yours to tell and yours to assign meaning to. That’s the beauty of life. When I look back on 2014 it was much better than I thought and I’m encouraged how it’s going to help me have a great 2015.
Have a great end to 2014 and get rested for a huge 2015.

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Be a pro during stressful times

Being a business owner can be extremely stressful at times. Okay, it’s stressful most of the time especially during the start-up, massive growth, transition, downsizing, or Monday through Friday. A small business owner is CEO, CFO, COO and DAD at the same time, which equals to lots of WINE (just occasionally).

Lets throw on top of that being in the real estate business where your clients are generally going through something considered second only to death in terms of stress, moving.  It’s my job and current life’s work to help people get from one place to another.  Handing the keys over to a first time buyer is a great feeling. Handing a check over to a couple who just sold their recently passed dad’s house is heartfelt.  This business is amazing. However it has it’s stresses with odd hours, weekends, late night phone calls. When the world is getting off at 5 pm after a normal business day your second half is often just beginning. Being successful in this business is tough and the rewards are great as well.

One of the most difficult aspects of business is working with your clients and other parties emotions.  People are going to handle stress a different way. It amazes me that I can have two clients going through similar situations in the same week and handle it completely opposite. One will get angry and frantic and the other will take it in stride and roll with it.  I have learned that both clients are right.  They have the right to feel what they feel.

I am a “roll with it” person and early in my career I let the angry folks really get to me.  Rolling with the punches doesn’t make me weak or less of a negotiator in fact composure makes me better. I have a philosophy that life happens and your part of it instead of things happening against you.  When you don’t see obstacles as personal it’s easier to deal with them. The buyer’s bank didn’t deny the loan at the last minute to cause the seller major stress on purpose. Things happen and it’s how we respond that is important.  “Don’t give a circumstance power over you” is something I tell myself often when things are going south with a deal.

My job is to be the calm in the midst of a storm. I can’t let their stress and anger affect my decision making and advice.  You would be amazed the kind of anger people get in a transaction.  I can tell when the agent on the other side is letting their client stress them out.  I have counseled crying agents through tough deals.

It took a long time to learn to stay calm and composed. It allows me to be a better negotiator and a better agent with real advice not emotion filled responses that just fuel the fire.  I once had a client remark that I was almost to calm.  I asked them how their experience would have been if I was upset and frantic when they called. They said, “oh, that makes sense.”  Composure is to be remained when with a client. I go to bat for my clients and make sure the other side is aware of what’s going on.  At home where I feel comfortable to let stress out I can get frustrated.  My wife knows when a client is upset or a deal is going bad. She knows the look in my face when I get the “deals dead” phone call. The “we just lost $8,000 in a few seconds” call. There are very few jobs in the world where you can spend 6 months working on a project and not get paid for it. There are also few jobs where you can meet someone and make $8,000 a few weeks later. I had to learn quickly to find ways to manage such stress at home. Just like my client’s stress isn’t my fault, my family shouldn’t get the blame for my work stress.

I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the tops agents in our city and frankly the state. I asked “how do you handle it all?” His response, “exercise, faith, and stress management. You can’t own their problems.”  That was great confirmation for me.  I had a problem early on of owning people’s problems.  People make choices that get them in situations and then because of the stress of the situation they can find fault with the people they hire to help them. This is true of doctors, lawyers, counselors, almost any business.    Trust me I go way above for my clients and offer great solutions to the problems.  A major life lesson is to always remember that how people respond to you or a situation is out of your control.

Learning to not own the problem has actually made me better at helping solve the problem. That’s what professionals do. Imagine a quarterback getting stressed out and frantic when the defense just gave up a touchdown with two minutes left and is now behind by 6.  We expect a champion to go out focused and composed to lead the charge. That’s what our customers expect from us. If you own their stress you can’t be a pro.  You can understand their stress, empathize, but you can not blame yourself for it.

It’s still a struggle daily. Like any muscle in life the staying calm muscle gets stronger with practice. Find a way to learn how to remain calm. My main weapons for handling stress are words. I have a few phrases that keep me calm. I remind myself the situation will often be over in a few days or weeks. I try to work my client through their stress by asking questions that lead them to find an answer to the real cause of stress.

My other weapons are exercise, prayer and chocolate. yes women, it works for men also.  Chocolate tends to beat out the exercise which is a whole other stress.  Ultimately experience and the ability to gather perspective will be your greatest strengths when dealing with stress. The better you can learn to handle stress the better you will be for your clients. Be a pro.


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Teal Is The New Green – A major business move

PPSOL Business card

I am excited to announce that Green Door Real Estate is now EXIT Realty Bay Area. After lots of prayer, thought, and work I have decided to take our boutique brokerage to the next level by becoming a franchisee with EXIT Realty. EXIT Realty International is the fifth largest real estate company in the United States and growing. With its unique single level residual program, unparalleled training, technology and a strong focus on personal growth, my family and I felt EXIT was a must.

Below is the story of my decision and how God showed up in the process.

For the past five years I have attended an event called Mastermind in San Diego. The event is hosted by Buffini and Company, the professional real estate coaching company I have hired to help me in my business. At each event there is a session dedicated to goal and vision writing. This past August I set a goal that in 2014 Green Door Real Estate will grow to 15 agents.

On the plane home I began thinking about this goal and how to go about it. I had never recruited before or even tried to.  I knew long term I wanted to grow a team where I can be a coach and help agents build successful businesses and family lives.

I wrote down three things: Training (professional and life), resources and support, and a strong financial model. These are three elements that agents need to succeed in the tough and rewarding business of real estate. I started looking around at companies across the country to model. I wanted to pick the best of what was working. I then came across EXIT and knew it wasn’t just a model I wanted to emulate; it was a company that I wanted to be part of. They have strong training, support, and the best financial model in the industry to create strong brokers and agent.

I had looked into EXIT almost ten years ago when they were in their infancy and thought it was a great idea then. The timing was just not right for me at that time.

In September I inquired about EXIT through the company’s website. A little time went by and I received an e-mail video message from Tami Bonell. We then set up a time to speak on the phone. Little did I know at the time that she is the CEO of EXIT Realty United States.  We had a great conversation and set a follow up. On the next call she asked if I could go to Washington DC to their national convention.  My wife and I debated if we could make it work. The morning we were discussing the trip and EXIT I turned on the TV for my kids to find Joyce Meyer was on. I wish I could remember the exact words she spoke, but it was something to the effect of, “I you are given an opportunity, don’t let your fear keep you from exploring it. While you are exploring the move God will make it clear if it’s from him.”  I booked my trip shortly after. At the convention I met several great people, including the founder of EXIT, Steve Morris.  One thing stood out to me while at the convention. During the lunch Steve stood in line with the rest of the several thousand people there. He did not hide or seek special treatment. He was one of us. During his keynote speech he expressed the poise and leadership that one would expect from a world class CEO. He laid out his vision for the company and I felt a great energy in the room.

The Sunday after the convention, my pastor, Pastor Bil Cornelius, made a point during his sermon that struck me. Part of the quandary I was feeling was giving up my dream of Green Door and the vision I had set for it.  Then Pastor Bil said that sometimes God will accomplish your dreams when you attach them to a leaders vision. Essentially if you help someone accomplish their visions your vision will be met along the way. I quickly realized the vision I had for my company can still be, it just may have a different name on the door.

I made the commitment to purchase a franchise and in December was in Canada for a week of training.  The whole time God kept showing up and lining up people and the timing for this new step in the life of my family. I feel whole heartedly that this company will change the lives of hundreds of agents in our market place and my family tree forever.

This is not going to be easy. There is going to be a lot of ups and downs, frustrations and joys. The journey is the exciting part.  What we need from you is support in the form of referrals to customers and to agents.

I am excited about what God is going to do through us to change the real estate community in Corpus Christi.  I am excited about the growth I am going to experience. I am excited about documenting my journey as a fatherpreneur. The EXIT change is just part of my overall dream of helping me and women live fulfilled lives with successful business and successful families.

I could keep writing for hours about what we have experienced of the past few months, owever, I must literally go and start switching out yard signs.

Our new web address is www.EXITRealtyBayArea.com (The green to teal change will take a few days on the site) . To learn more about EXIT as a whole please visit www.EXITRealty.com and check out some great videos about the company at http://www.youtube.com/user/EXITRealtyVideos

It’s a blessed life,

Joseph Cortez


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Can a buyer time the market?

During this market I hear a lot of buyers saying, “I am going to wait until till prices drop even more and hit rock bottom.”  The thinking is that they can time the market and buy at the absolute lowest prices possible.  This is basically gambling since no one and I mean no one can time the market to know when the bottom truly is. What this often does is fuel reluctance and creates a waiting syndrome, meanwhile great deals pass them buy each day.  The great real estate guru Gary Keller says in his book Shift there are two types of buyers, those who think they can time the market and those who think timing will find them. What he means by timing finding them is that by staying in the market they will find their great deal.  If the buyer waits to long they will  see the market surge past them.

With interest rates plummeting down to the low 5s again we should see a rise in sales, which in turn will shrink inventory and cause prices to stabilize and potentially creep back up.  The key is not to be greedy and be a realists. Realists understand that now is a great time to buy especially in South Texas. Values will rise over the long haul. The idea is to buy smart and not buy greedy.

Greed can lead to missed opportunities.

Have a great week,
Joseph Cortez


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Foreclosure Facts

“I’m looking for a good deal!” This statement is often followed by, “I want to buy a foreclosure.”  Are foreclosures good deals? Yes and no.  Yes in the respect that you can often get a property at a lower price than if it was on the market in a non-foreclosure situation. I am closing on a foreclosure this week that was a good deal. The buyers were able to get a property that was only a couple of years old about 1,850 square feet at a price in the $150,000 range where  it probably could have sold as high as 185,000 in a normal market. 

There are truly plenty of great foreclosure deals out there. When looking you must be aware of a couple of things:

1. Foreclosures are likely to have problems that need to be fixed both cosmetic and with infrastructure.  There is a common school of thought amongst real estate professionals, that if someone is not making their payments, they are probably not taking care of the property like they should. Make sure you get an inspection on the property and that you get an inspection period with a clause to opt out of the contract as part of your contract. (That’s why it’s important to use a good Realtor, like me : )  

You may have to spend several thousand dollars to get the property up to acceptable conditions. The buyers I spoke of earlier are going to replace all the carpet, repaint the whole interior, and relandscape the yard. This is what they were looking for and they are going to do the work themselves. If you don’t have the money to spend or the desire to work, a foreclosure may not be for you. 

Big problems such as plumbing issues, air conditioning, electrical, roof, or appliance problems could be yours to take care of as well.

2. Since foreclosures are owned by banks they may be harder to negotiate with. Banks don’t have emotions attached to a property like a homeowner does. Banks use matrixes, spreadsheets and software to decide if an offer is acceptable. There are less likely to negotiate on price and terms. There may be a little negotiating room because they don’t want to hold the property for longer than needed.

Every bank has different policies and some don’t have any at all. This market is new to many lenders and they are learning as we are how to handle the load of properties.  Each deal is different and requires dilligence, patience and fortitude to get to closing.

When working with foreclosures you’ll need about $1,000 in earnest money, a prequal letter from a bank, and a good decision muscles. You can’t fall in love with a foreclosure either, because a lot of people are looking at them. Acting fast is paramount, because if you don’t someone will.

When it comes down to it, buying a foreclosure can be a “Good Deal.” You truly decide what is a good deal for you. Good deal doesn’t always mean good price, but also good terms, amenities, locations, and fitting the needs of your situation.  Remember the main things to decide are, Can I truly afford this or wan’t to spend this a month, and Can I feel comfortable coming home to this house every evening?

Have a great week,

Joseph