The latest market instability awoke us all from a “bull market slumber.” You know what I’m talking about. That vague belief that everything is going perfect and will indefinitely rise. We all know this is dead wrong. In 2006, we all hoped the good times would last forever! We told ourselves, “It’s not like the other boom markets that ended in a bust. This one is different. This time the golden age would be eternal!”
Instead of a soaring, upwards trajectory we crashed hard and fast. If only we could time travel to 2006 and tell ourselves, “Don’t buy that house! Invest wisely! Focus on ways to increase profit!” Alas, it can’t be done.
Let’s allow history to be our guide. These latest years are feeling a lot like 2001-2007. Officially, the Great Recession lasted only from Dec 2007 to Jun 2009, but most of us felt the pain well into 2012. If you’re like me and wished you could time travel to 2006, it’s time to get into that mindset. Because these good times won’t last forever.
You don’t have to out run a bear. Just the other campers.
The good news is, you don’t have to outrun the bear. Focus on outrunning the other brokers and agents. While they’re out buying expensive cars, boats and mini-mansions, you focus on your asset collection.
What is an asset? The dictionary definition of an asset is vague. I’m going to define assets in terms of finance. An asset is ownership of real estate, cash, stocks, bonds and intellectual property. Let’s build these categories with our wealth in these categories while your friends use their good fortune to collect debt.
Real Estate. Your house is an asset, but it’s useless if it forecloses. When purchasing a home, consider buying less than you can afford. If you’re in a relationship, consider buying a house that could be sustained if one person lost their income. Sole-earners may want to consider purchasing a house with a mortgage of half of what the lender qualifies. The extra breathing room will come in handy during inevitable busts. Also, consider staying in your house long-term – at least 10 years – to build equity. Moving from house to house can be a huge expense.
Cash. Experts say a household should keep at least three months of livable savings for a dual income household. For a sole-earner household, the advice is six to eight months of livable savings. On average, it takes a seasoned professional about eight months to find a job.
Stocks and bonds. Dust off (or open) that Fidelity or Vanguard account and get to work! Balancing your portfolio is the single most important thing you can do for your assets. The Intelligent Investor suggests you should have 50% of your portfolio in stocks and 50% in bonds. But that’s an oversimplification. A Beginners Guide to Investing has some great tips on diversifying US stocks, foreign stocks, REITS, developing markets, TIPs, bonds, and commodities.
Invest in profit producing assets. You’re making money now, and that’s great! I know you’re busy beyond all reason, but now is the time to start investing in making your business more profitable. That means you’re finally going to buy that CRM (client relationship management) software you desperately need but have been avoiding. Stop asking, “Which Mike is this?” Type in his phone number and skim your notes to ensure you know who you’re talking to!
Are you holding back on your web presence? Gone are the days when you could rely on your broker for marketing. Brokers are focused on turning your listings around as fast as possible – attracting leads is your job. It’s time to start making a website work for you. 5 Steps to a Lead Generating Website.
Intellectual property. Books are great intellectual property because they can make money while you sleep. There is no better time than now to write a book! Thanks to e-readers becoming increasingly popular, it’s no longer necessary to go through the publishing process. Copyright your content with the US Copyright website, get an ISBN (barcode) for around $40 – In my opinion, you don’t need LegalZoom or an attorney, it’s not a difficult process. Print books easily through services like Create My Books (hard cover) or Café Press (soft cover). Sell your e-book with Amazon.
Some other ideas for intellectual property to sell:
- Sales letters
- Package of “sales process” information like a checklist of what you should do after a contract is signed along with “sample letters” to clients
- Cold calling scripts
Get started today. With all difficult things in life (marketing, starting a business, diets), getting started is the hard part. Take a look at your asset allocations, consider what needs to be improved and get working on it today. I know you’re busy, however, when money is rolling in is the best time to tackle your assets. Don’t be reactionary! Take the time to critically look at your personal finances and business and make a list of things that can be improved and investments that need to be made. Ensure your profitability for years to come and you’ll thrive in the next bear market!