“A truly great mentor is hard to find, difficult to part with, and impossible to forget.”

~ Anonymous

“How can I find a good mentor?”

And: “Why does it cost so much to have one?”

These are simple questions that require a very detailed response. So, to help you peel back the layers of this onion, I want to delve deep into this topic…

Sure, there are plenty of ways to build your real estate investing knowledge on your own, and these can be extremely helpful (so I want to touch on some of these, as well). But there’s something about having a successful mentor that brings a whole new dimension of expertise into your world.

But, for many of us, finding the right mentor isn’t necessarily a piece of cake. And when we do find the right mentor or coaching program, is it really worth our hard-earned dollars to learn from them?

The answer is different for everyone. Luckily, I’m going to give you some insight to (hopefully) help you make the right decision for your situation.

So, let’s get right into it…

Find Yourself

I’m not trying to get all introspective here, but there is something to be said about knowing yourself and your core business values.

If you’re still trying to determine what exactly you want to gain from your investing business (aside from the obvious… money), it might be best to put the mentor search on hold.

First, ask yourself these 4 basic questions:

  • Do you want to invest in one specific market, several local markets or invest in properties in other states entirely?
  • Are you interested in fix & flips, wholesaling, being a landlord/property manager or a combination of these?
  • Do you plan to make this your full-time venture or is it a side gig?
  • What is your ultimate financial goal?

If you don’t have a clear answer for each of these, it’s time to do some soul searching. You can’t find a mentor who will meet your needs if you don’t even know what those needs are.

As you build your business and become more confident in your identity – but still have a long ways to go, in terms of achieving financial freedom – this is the “sweet spot” where finding a mentor can be extremely helpful.

Determine Your Budget

Let’s face it – anything that is worthwhile and valuable in business will probably not be free. You get what you pay for, in most cases.

That being said, there are also ways to expand your investing knowledge and build a foundation for success without ever writing a check.

So, first… determine what your budget for training, education and mentoring will be. If you want to start out with a shoestring budget, that’s totally fine. Just make sure you define a specific amount of money you want to spend… and stick to it.

Find Value in the Free Stuff

If you’re not willing to shell out cash for a top-notch mentor, there are some DIY methods that can be useful.

Consider these options:

  • Attend your local Real Estate Investors Association (REIA) meetings– This is always a good option for meeting local investors in your area; you may not be formally “mentored” here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t gain some truly valuable insight.
  • Join Facebook groups– Search “real estate” or “investor,” along with your city name, and join these groups; these are people you could potentially work with in the future.
  • Go to free trainings– These may be more difficult to find, but it can be worthwhile to research some complimentary REI trainings; even if the information presented isn’t the most mind-blowing insight, you will still have the opportunity to connect with other investors in your area.
  • Read, read, read– This method isn’t completely free; technically, you have to pay for the books. But I think that we often forget the power of educating ourselves through reading. It’s a great way to learn from experts in our industry. A couple of good options you may want to check out are William Nickerson’s How I Turned $1,000 Into a Million in Real Estate — in My Spare Time or Jay P. DeCima’s Investing in Fixer-Uppers.
  • Explore other online resources – Take a look at Meetup.com, where you can find other investors in your area; this is another awesome place to learn about local meetings that you can attend. Also, if your goal is to buy and hold your properties for the rental income, browse online for your local rental association; these meetings are the perfect opportunity to learn tips from other landlords and property managers.

Now, all of these options are fine and dandy… you can learn a ton from these opportunities. But, if you want to go to the next level, and really benefit from some 1-on-1 time with a mentor, you should be willing to pay a nominal consulting fee.

But let’s cover that in the next section…

Understanding the Value of a Mentor

Many financially successful mentors or REI training programs are not willing to give away their services for nothing. That’s just the way it is. If someone has built a profitable business, their time is worth something.

Think about it: you are taking someone’s time that they could be spending on their business. Wouldn’t you want to be paid for that? Or at least have some incentive to help out?

Plus, if you are gaining knowledge and receiving advice that will help you increase your income and build your business, it’s only fair that the person who provides this expertise should be compensated.

After all, you pay for marketing, you pay to renovate or repair the properties you purchase, and you pay any individuals who are doing labor or administrative work for you…

Think of paying a mentor or a coach as another investment in your business. You’re investing in your investing business (yes, I know, that was extremely clever). :-/

One other way to think of it: When you pay a fee for something, you’re more likely to take it seriously. So, when you compensate an investing mentor or coach, you have more incentive to apply your new knowledge and build a successful business.

Now, a word of caution

I’ve heard multiple horror stories of investors who got sucked into those “free” flipping guru seminars where they were pressured to cough up anywhere from $20K-$50K in order to continue with training.

Don’t ever fall for this gimmick. You should never be investing that kind of money unless there’s an actual property deal in the works – and make sure a deed is involved.

Trust me, even the best of us can make foolish decisions when we’re extremely motivated to succeed. Just don’t commit to anything that you’ll financially regret.

“Courting” Your Mentor

If you make the decision to invest in mentoring or coaching services, your next step will be to find the right person for you.

This is where your core business values will come into play. You want to find someone whose ideology and strategies are similar to yours.

Think of this as dating – or even a job interview – in both cases, you want to make sure the other person (or the company) is a good match for you.

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image,
but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”

~Steven Spielberg

Once you identify someone who may be a good mentor candidate, it’s a great opportunity to invite them out for coffee or lunch. Tell them you’d like to pick their brain about some investing topics, and you’re really just looking to make connections with other investors.

At your first meeting, you might consider asking some of these questions:

  • How did you get into investing? When did you know it was the right career fit for you?
  • What kind of investing do you do?
  • Do you ever partner with other investors on deals?
  • I’m still working on building my business; what advice would you have for me?
  • What are some of the most important things in life, to you?
  • How does real estate investing fit into the life you want to have/or do have? 

Notice that I threw a couple of personal questions in there.. It’s okay to do this – it will help you understand the person’s core values and what motivates them in life.

Remember: You should be looking for a personality match, as well as a business match.

Another imperative idea to keep in mind: a mentor-mentee relationship should be mutually beneficial.

If you give this person the impression that all you’re going to do is “take, take, take,” they may not want to work with you. Regardless of whether they are being compensated or not, a “take, take, take” relationship can be draining.

So, make sure you are clear about the value that you can offer the potential mentor. For instance, ask them if there’s anything you could help with – or if there’s any value you could bring to their business.

If you’re not paying your mentor, it can be beneficial to volunteer to take on small tasks for them – such as occasionally driving for dollars, fielding motivated seller phone calls or scouting out properties online.

You might feel a little strange doing the “tedious” tasks, but this is one of the best ways to learn about your mentor’s business model and investing strategies.

“Mentoring is a two-way street. You get out what you put in.”

~Steve Washington, COO & Co-Founder, Casentric

Just like a spouse-spouse relationship or an employee-employer relationship, the mentor-mentee relationship is about give and take. Don’t take, take, take and expect the mentor to continue giving.

That’s not beneficial or healthy for either of you.

Be a Standout

My final tip, when courting a potential mentor, is to really stand out in terms of scoring property deals.

If you’re able to find a house (or two) that ends up being a major deal for that mentor, you will automatically earn their respect – plus, they’ll be more willing to take you under their wing and teach you their craft.

The bottom line is this: If you want to get on the fast track to learning the art of investing in the most effective way, having a mentor is essential.

Starting the Search

If you’re hesitating to find a mentor, what is holding you back? Let me know your questions and concerns in the comments section below.

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