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Business Development

If I Had to Start Over From Scratch

start from scratchHey Moguls, we’ve got a terrific lesson today from a real superstar in the world of real estate investing, Sean Terry. Sean has executed hundreds of real estate investment transactions, with a cumulative transaction value of about $120,000,000. Yep, all those pretty zeroes…

This tells us that it’d be well worth our while to read what he has to say. He certainly hasn’t failed us before in his previous awesome lessons. Definitely check them out here and here and this one too.

Now, put all your distractions to the side for a few minutes and get hold of his crystal clear answer to an important question. Take it away Sean…

Important Question

Here’s a question that I hear quite often, and one that I love answering:

“What would you do if you had to start over from scratch?”

This is a timely and important question that deserves a good answer. People see me now and see how many deals I do and they feel they cannot relate to me and my life.

“Sure it works for you, but you have all this money and all this experience. I’m nothing but a green newbie. It’s different for me – it’s not the same.”

The ironic thing about this question is that at one point in my career, I actually DID have to start all over from scratch. That happened to me. So I can share with you how I pulled out of that dark, sad pit.

Anyone can do This

What I’m going to share with you is something anyone can do. If I got pulled out of my market right now and plopped into a brand new market with no contacts, no cash to leverage, and had to start at ground zero, this is what I would do…

Definitely, without question, I would start off with what I know. And what I know is that you must have chunks of cash in order to move forward. The best way to do that is with wholesaling. Honestly, there’s nothing like wholesaling to create infusions of cash.

Back in 2003 before I was introduced to wholesaling I was broke. I was living on barely-get-along street. Always more days in the month than I had money. And I can tell you, it sucked. It was terrible. I hated it.

Then I was introduced to wholesaling. Bingo! I made $134,000 my first year. It was such a rush. I could work from home, I was making money, and I was having fun doing all of it.

$36 Million Portfolio

In 2004, I started building a property portfolio using seller financing and built it up to more than 120 houses – $36 million worth. In early 2005, I had the amazing opportunity to sell our entire portfolio. This was at the height of the market.

Overnight I had more money than I knew what to do with – millions of dollars. It was one of the smartest moves I ever made. But then I made one of the stupidest moves ever...

I invested in land.

All of a sudden, land went to practically zero here in Phoenix. I made the dumbest decision at the very worst time. Now I couldn’t get my money out of the land because it was worth next to nothing.

Broke – Again

By 2008 and 2009, I was in the worst mess I’ve ever been in. I started looking through the newspaper just to see if I might be able to find a job.

BrokeOne day as I was looking through the newspaper – and feeling sorry for myself… my wife shook me out of the stupor by saying, "Stop dwelling on the negative. Stop the whining. Stop looking at what’s wrong.” That got my attention, but she wasn’t done…

She said, "Listen Sean, you’ve got to snap out of it. You’ve got to start focusing on what you want. You’ve got to start focusing on the positive. You’ve got to start focusing on what you want to happen and then start taking action to make it happen."

Wake-up Call

That was my wake-up call. I knew I had come to the point where I had to reinvent myself. Just as the question above stated – I had to start over from scratch. Let me tell you, when you're starting over from scratch a couple things have to happen:

1. Make a Decision

First thing out of the chute, you must make a decision. You must decide to stop focusing on the past. You're done with that; it's over. You can do nothing about it today. I know you’ve probably heard this many times over, but it’s worth repeating: You cannot control the past, but you can control the future. Make the decision that you’re going to make things happen.

It’s not just a catchy song lyric; you’ve gotta get the eye of the tiger. How?

Well, start saying things like:

  • I'm going to make this happen.
  • I'm going to turn this around.
  • I'm going to find sellers.
  • I'm going to find buyers.
  • I'm going to sell these properties.
  • I'm going to make a profit.
  • I’m going to make a fortune doing it.

I can guarantee you that when you make this kind of decision, things start lining up in amazing ways.

2. Increase Your Energy

energyOnce you’ve made this powerful, life-changing decision, now you must increase your energy. You can't sleep in until eight in the morning. Get yourself out of bed by four or five.

You will want to jump out of bed because now you have a lot more to get done instead of sitting around watching boring television shows.

I can get so much done in the hours between nine at night and two in the morning; it's one of my most productive times. (Of course, I can't do it every night or my wife would kick me out of the house.)

But late at night, or early in the morning, the house is quiet, no distractions. You can focus on building on your business and set up your marketing campaigns. This calls for increased energy. You’ve decided you're going to make this happen – no matter what.


Once I had my wake-up call, I put the newspaper away. I was done reading the newspaper; I was done watching the news on television. I put on my blinders like a horse, and I laser-focused all my energy on becoming successful. I didn't want to hear about anything else that was going on. I just wanted to focus.

I brainstormed. What could I do to make things happen with the little bit of money that I had available?

What I Could do

I decided to handwrite yellow letters and mail them out. I could do that. And that’s what I did. I sat at the kitchen table and wrote yellow letters, and mailed them. Not thousands, but 25 here and 50 there. I made a commitment that I was going to get the letters out. And I did…

Then the calls started to come in. Those calls were opportunities. When you have an opportunity to find a distressed seller, then you have the opportunity to get that property under contract. Now you can sell it to a buyer and make a profit.


Take that profit and reinvest it back in the business. Let's say you make $10,000, and you reinvest $1,500 back in the marketing. Some people would say, "Oh no. I'm going to hang on to that $1,500 because I need it.”

If you want to scale this sucker big, there’s only one way to do it and that’s reinvest it back into marketing.

MarketingOf course it's scary, but the only reason it’s scary is because you’re still focusing on the past.

If you focus on the future, you’ll say "I'm going to spend 100 grand a month on marketing and I'm going to be in multiple different markets."

That means the measly $1,500 you're spending today will look like a stepping stone to get you there.

Tactics vs. Motivation

I bet when you first saw this lesson, you thought that I would be covering more techniques and tactics and a lot less motivational points. But let me be clear that while the tactics are important, they’ll never be as important as that desire, that fire that must be burning inside of you. You must fan that flame, but you also must know the reason why.

Stay Tuned

Hey guys, check this out – I’m going a lot longer on this subject than I expected at the outset. Since I still have more to say let’s just set this on pause, and I’ll come back soon with Part II. At that time, I’ll continue laying out what I believe would matter the most if I had to start again from scratch.

Stay tuned for, If I Had to Start Over From Scratch – Part II, coming soon.

Holla at us

Did this motivate you to get into gear? Do you have a similar story in which you fell from grace and picked yourself back up? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.


Do It To It! Immediate Action Steps

Stop focusing on the past and start focusing on the future.

Make a serious decision that you are going to do what it takes to make success happen.

Increase your energy – go at this full bore.

Start small, reinvest, scale up.

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