Be Your Own Boss



Be Your Own Boss


by Jack Miller


Be your own boss.  Two times in my life I found myself unemployed.  The first time, I learned to write really good résumés, but went through over 200 interviews before I learned how to dress, act, and respond to questions.  The second time, when I lost my job at age 40, I realized that I didn’t want to work for anybody else anymore.  My only recourse was to go into business for myself; thus, I more or less failed into real estate sales.  The bad news was that, as a beginner, I had to learn a completely new set of rules and start working without the safety net of a regular
paycheck.  The good news was that, as a salesman working solely on commission, I’d be paid in accordance with my own job performance; and as I learned, I could steadily increase my income. 


Bear in mind that I had worked for wages for decades before making the switch to being a salesman.  I was scared to death.  My only recourse was to spend every waking hour trying to learn the ropes.  I had to study all the laws that applied to selling houses.  I had to learn how to list and sell houses; then to fill out contracts and shepherd them through financing, clearing of contingencies, and settlement.  I had to find ways to pay regular periodic bills with income that came in spurts instead of from a steady salary. And I had to convince my family that this was the best career choice I had.  After many months of trial and error, during which I killed many a budding sale, I made the transition from depending upon the whims and business judgment of corporate bosses to being the boss myself.  You can do it too; especially if your future boils down to low-level jobs with no future. 


Many people trying to go from a salaried job into direct sales fail for a number of reasons that have more to do with their attitudes than the requirements of the job.  Being a good salesman requires a high level of enthusiasm and optimism.  You have to be a self-starter.  Nobody is going to drag you out of bed everyday and make you go to work; you have to do this yourself. 

You must exude optimism and truly believe you can make a living selling houses.  You have to find customers who need the house you have for sale.  To do this, you must find a way to establish personal rapport with them.  You must believe in the house you’re selling and be able to communicate how it will meet buyers’ needs within their budget.  You have to find a way to set yourself apart from your competitors so your customers will remain loyal to you while you find them the house they need. 


All of this sounds hard, but almost every entrepreneur must find ways to do it in order to build a business.  It takes time.  I started as a salesman and opened my own one-man brokerage on a shoestring as soon as I could.  The first year my annual income barely exceeded that of my former job.  As I learned more about the business, I made more money.  By the second year I tripled my former salary.  By the third year I was buying, fixing and selling more houses that I’d optioned, than those I listed.  The fourth year I became a “buyers’ broker”; being paid 10% of the purchase price for any house I bought for an investor.  The fifth year I closed my brokerage office and retired on rental income from 38 houses I had kept as rentals. 


I learned a lot about myself and about business during this time.  First of all, when you’re in business for yourself, every day you take off can not only deprive you of an opportunity to make money, but also increases the workload when you return to work.  In short, I said goodbye to vacations, weekends, and days off.  My 40-hour workweeks became a memory.  While my wife held things together in the office and answered the telephone at home, I worked the neighborhoods clear into the night; listing, showing, selling, and closing house deals. I calculate that my wife and I each worked over 90 hours a week for five years before we were finally able to quit. In the final analysis, this was well worth it.  I was able to retire at age 45. Somehow my two teenagers survived it all and helped out when they could. 


Most businesses fail during their first three years because of lack of money.  By deliberately electing to remain a small company without any debt, inventory or employees, I avoided the distractions and stress that many new businesses need to cope with.  Fortunately, real estate brokerage and Options enable one to do this while generating a lot of money from sales.

Reprinted by Permission.  or call (972) 496-4500.  Jack Miller passed away in October 2009. A few of us were fortunate to be able to attend some of his outstanding seminars.  Jack  spoke at MREIA meetings and was an international speaker and active investor, specializing in single family houses. He  wrote a monthly investment newsletter and conducted seminars on Exchanging, Management, Portfolio Strategies and Options.