Why are you in the land business? I know that sounds like a dumb question, but it’s important that you start with your why. If you don’t know why you are starting any business, it’s much easier to quit when the business gets tough.
Your answer should be true to you, and don’t settle for easy answers. “I’m in business to make more money,” or “To make a pile of money” isn’t going to cut it. You need something more motivating because this will take time and effort, and at times you won’t want to continue.
So, why do you want to make more money? Is it financial freedom? Do you want more money because you don’t ever want an employer telling you where you sit or when to go to lunch?
Do you want more time with family? The ability to go to a child’s baseball game or play and not take vacation days? That’s motivating. That’s something you can remember when times get tough.
Step 2: Create an LLC for your new business
Stricktly speaking, this step is optional. But I highly recommend you take the time to do it for two reasons:
The first reason is the main reason you should get an LLC. If you setup an LLC, you are more likely to take the time to learn about investing in real estate. A new LLC is a big step. It’s a statement to your family and friends that you mean business and you will be successful at this.
The second reason is a small benefit. If you don’t get an LLC, you’ll have to get your spouse to sign all the documents when you buy and sell a property. That’s not a big deal if you are doing just a few deals , but if you are on your way to becoming a real estate investor, you’ll be doing 20 or more deals in the next few years. It will be easier on both of you if an LLC is in place. Better to plan for long-term success now, rather than wait.
Plus, it saves you time and family stress.
The rest of these steps are technically optional. If you are pressed for time or have severely limited startup funding, you can skip these and move to acquiring inventory. Be warned though, if you skip these steps, it WILL affect your bottom line and lower your response rates. In other words, skipping the next 4 steps will hurt your bottom line.
Step 3: Branding
You need a business name for your new land business. If you are taking my advice from step 2 and creating an LLC, they will require a business name. You will also need a business name for your mailers and emails with sellers and buyers.
Again, this is isn’t strictly required, but it’s a good idea to do at the start.
There are three things you need when setting up your business identity:
1) Business Name
3) Color scheme
Lots of new land businesses don’t give this much consideration. They pick a name that sounds cool to them and run with it. That’s not the way I’m going to teach you.
First, you need to think of a name. I’ve heard all sorts of terrible names from “Land Activator” to “Land Lovers” and more. When people think of these names, they are thinking in terms of what they think is cool or trying to be descriptive of them.
That’s the wrong way to think.
Instead, I want you to put yourself in the shoes of a seller. Try to imagine someone receiving your letter, opening it up, and seeing your company name and logo. What would make that person more likely to respond positively to your offer? What kind of name or logo would but them at ease?
Stay in the seller’s mindset, and look at these names. Which one of these would make you think that the company reaching out is more legitimate?
– Land Maniacs LLC
– Gotta Have Me Some Land Corp
– LandVest Corp
– Terria Land Company
When you look at the list, you either want your company name to stand out (That’s why I named my company “Done With Land, LLC” because it tells potential sellers the story in a phrase) or be so bland that it seems credible. You don’t need to get interesting or outlandish with the name. The whole point of a name is credibility.
The same principles with the name apply to your logo. Do you need a logo? Yes, you need something that at a bare minimum visually represents your company, even if it’s just a stylized version of your business name.
Thankfully a logo doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of places to get one including Fivver.com and 99designs.com.
Also, make sure your logo looks great in black and white as well as color. Often you will print the logo in black and white on your stationery. If it’s difficult to read or looks strange when it’s not in color, you should know that before you make a final logo.
Believe it or not, different colors evoke different emotions in people. The colors you choose will have an unnoticeable but tangible effect on buyers and sellers when they see your logo and collateral. Choose wisely.
A quick rundown of how different colors make people feel:
Blue – Stable, solid. Think IBM, Facebook, and Alaska Airlines.
Red – Caring, Passionate, Like fire. Think Nike.
Yellow – Supportive, Amiable. Think McDonalds and Best Buy.
Black – Eternal, Soothing, Royalty.
White – Trustworthy
Green – Trustworthiness, but also Reputation. Think Starbucks.
Brown – Comforting, yet serious
Gray – Sophisticated, yet polished
Colors also have subtle differences. Go with what you think will make your business stand out or represent who you are best.
In summary, make your business name sound legit by thinking about about a seller and how they would think about your business when first seeing it. Then apply those same principles to the logo and color scheme.
You might be tempted to skip this step, but you’ll regret it down the road if you do.
Step 4: Phones
An essential part of your land business will be through the phone. Buyers and sellers will need to contact you and many will choose to call you. While email will constitute the bulk of your customer contact, if you are running your business correctly, phone calls will run a close second.
My first tip is: Don’t want to use your personal phone. A land business is a business. You don’t want to use your personal phone. First of all, it can be hard to separate your personal phone calls from your business phone calls. That means it’s hard to know how to answer your phone when an unknown number calls you.
You don’t want to answer your personal phone as your business and you certainly don’t want to answer your personal phone with just a “Hello.” It’s unprofessional and you could quickly kill an otherwise great deal.
It’s best to separate your personal from the business. Purchase a separate number or a new phone for your business calls. At the very least you should have a different business number.
Now, what about when you need to answer your phone? Even if you have a separate business number, do you want to answer your phone at all hours of the day? That can lead to problems.
Imagine that you are out getting groceries at night and someone calls your number looking to sell you their land for a great price. It’s a bad first impression if you pick up the call in the deli and the customer hears the commotion in the background. Not only that, but if you don’t have your notes in front of you, chances are you are going to ask them to call back (or call them back) when you are more prepared.
This is a great way to lose deals.
Paying a professional answering service can help you ease the pain of taking a call when you aren’t prepared to receive it. PATLive is a great service that will answer all your calls, around the clock, and even forward the calls or take down the customer’s information per your instructions.
There is a monthly fee, and the alternative is letting the calls go to voice mail, but it’s much better to have a live person answer every call that comes through.
Step 5: Email and fax
Most of your communication with clients will be through email, so it’s important to have a quality email address that looks professional and matches the standard of service that you want them to associate with you. That means you need to ditch the @gmail.com or @outlook.com email addresses (I’m not even going to talk to you @aol.com and @yahoo.com email addresses out there).
These email addresses are free, but they look very unprofessional. Ask yourself, which company would you trust more, one with email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org email address?
This means you need to pick a domain and pay for an email service. The best place to buy a domain is Namecheap.com and the best service to host email is Google.
The next issue you need to solve is a fax.
I can already hear you, “Really? A fax?” Yes, you need a fax. This is nonnegotiable. Not only will clients try to fax you their documents but some title companies still use faxes.
Thankfully, there are services like eFax and myFax that make this easy. I use a service called faxage.com (as of 2022) that works the same.
They will set you up with a number, receive faxes, email you the documents in a PDF form, and also send scanned copies to the other party as faxes.
Step 6: Website(s)
If you aren’t on the web, you don’t exist as a business anymore. Not only will customers research you on the web, but having a website gives you a way to establish credibility and relationships right away.
It’s important to have a website geared toward sellers first. You can have a duel sellers/buyers website, but just beginning it’s more important to have a site that speaks to seller’s needs, wants, and desires. You can expand your site to buyers later.
Your site should look professional and also should be easy to update. You don’t need all the bells and whistles in the beginning but it should have nice photography, clearly explain what your company does and how it does it, and have some way for the visitor to contact you should they want to sell their property.
At a minimum you should have an email address and phone number where they can reach you, but having a form on the site is another good way to look credible and allow the seller to contact you.
There are a lot of great sites that can be built for free or very inexpensively. The two that I recommend are WordPress.com and SquareSpace.com. WordPress takes more work but allows more freedom to customize. Squarespace is more of a hands off solution, though you still have to add content.
Step 7: Staff?
You might think that you are a one-person operation, and that might be true in the beginning of your business, but eventually you will need to hire staff.
Do you need staff to start with? No, you don’t need a staff to start your land business, but if you have the budget it’s a great idea. Hiring a staff member or two can take away some of the mundane and simple tasks that will slow you down.
I have to be honest, I love virtual assistants. They have supercharged my business and taken it to levels I couldn’t have imagined just a year ago.
BUT you need to have 3-5 deals under your belt to know what to tell them. You can’t learn with your assistants, you have to know what you are doing in order to train them to do the job.
There’s so much more I have to tell you about staffing up to build your business, but the short answer is that you shouldn’t staff up for your initial 3-5 deals. Learn the business hands on, make your own mistakes, and pay attention to the process.
Then, once you have some practical experience, you can look to find virtual assistants and other staff that can handle your day-to-day tasks.
More about that in a later lesson.
How much is all this going to cost me?
Every new business has startup costs and investing in land is no different. There’s costs for setting up your LLC, for getting a separate business phone line, for a new logo and brand, for a URL, an email address and fax service, and for a quality website and hosting. That seems like a lot. Thankfully, this is all a good to have list but not completely necessary to get started.
Here’s the good news: you don’t NEED any of this to start a land business.
I highly recommend a business license (a sole prop at least, but an LLC is better), but everything else is technically optional.
You can run your business on a shoestring and still be a massive success.