Justin Williams has flipped more than 500+ houses over the past 10 years. Starting from nothing in real estate, he has built a systematized house flipping “machine” that allows him to flip more than 100 houses per year while only spending about 5 hours per week working on his business.
Justin continues to grow and scale his house flipping business while coaching and training new house flippers, which is what he's most passionate about. He and his coaching partner Andy McFarland run House Flipping Formula, a beginning-to-end house flipping training program with more than 500 current students. For house flipping tricks and hacks, insider real estate info, expert interviews, motivation, and more, head over to HouseFlippingHQ.com.
In this interview, Justin shares his entrepreneurial beginnings and how he became successful/systemized at real estate investing. His biggest piece of advice to entrepreneurs and investors out there: Shoot for the stars but be prepared to hit a couple meteorites on your way and adjust accordingly!
After getting fired about about the possibilities and you'd like to learn more about Justin's real estate coaching sessions, add him on Google +!
How did you get started as an entrepreneur? When did you first get bit by the entrepreneurial bug?
Since a young age, I have always been trying to figure out how to make a buck.
I was so fascinated that you could buy something for a certain price and sell it for more. My cousin and I would get my aunt to take us to Costco and loan us money to buy candy in bulk which we would sell to neighbor kids to make a profit.
I got into raising animals because I recognized they could “multiply.” I figured if I could buy 2 lovebirds for $30 each and they then 4 babies, I could sell the babies, double my money and still have my original investment. Then I realized I could increase the value of the lovebird by hand feeding it from a young age and sell it for twice as much. How amazing was that! Not only was it fun it was like creating FREE money from nothing!
In high school, my mom would buy candy bars in bulk and we would sell them to people at school for twice the amount. We didn’t have a lot of money so this is what allowed us to do things like play sports and go out to eat on occasion.
You can only imagine the joy I felt when started learning more about real estate. I was amazed to find out that you could buy a house for $80,000, put $20,000 of repairs and upgrades into it and sell it for $150,000. Same idea I had as a kid but MUCH bigger #’s! Oh Happy DAY!!! :)
What does House Flipping HQ do that makes it better than the rest? In other words, what is your competitive advantage and how did you find it?
I’ve been investing in Real Estate for almost 10 years. I started out by reading books and researching blogs and forums on the internet. That was great to get some basic information but didn’t give me enough to have the confidence I needed to really get going.
We decided we needed some more hands on help so we hired a coach for $15,000. Later, we found out this guy hadn’t done the business for 6 years and was teaching us old outdated stuff. Through a lot of trial and error we eventually figured it out but it could have been a lot easier if we had better guidance.
There are more millionaires made through Real Estate than all other industries combined. Unfortunately, this has also attracted some unscrupulous characters who take advantage of this situation.
They know people can make $20,000-$40,000 for doing one deal so they justify charging that much for a so called coaching program. They will use a high profile name such as someone with a TV show or popular book, sell them on a very expensive package and then send them to a call center to learn from some 20 year old kid out of a manual who has never invested in real estate in his life.
Then on the “flip” side of that there are a lot of blogs, books and forums you can learn from and these things are ok to get you some basic info and get you started but still leave you without a clear focus and direct feedback from someone who knows the business.
My goal in starting House Flipping HQ and our coaching program House Flipping Formula was to fill this gap and create a program that would provide detailed education at an affordable price from someone actually doing the business.
What does a typical day look like for you? Is there something you make a point to do each day?
This is a tough one to answer because it has changed a lot over the last 10 years. In the beginning, it was a lot of work as we were trying to get things figured out, get out of debt and build a business. I recall after a couple years of hard work there was a time when we really had a lot of freedom of time and flexibility and then in 2010 with some changes in the market and our business and we had to get back to grinding it out.
Then in 2012, we really started to streamline like never before and we were making more money and working less than ever. It was awesome! For about 3 months and then I realized I was bored out of my mind and my wife got tired of me following her around the house all the time and I had to find something else to do that both fulfilled me and kept me busy, and that is when I decided to start teaching others about what I have done, which of course I didn’t know what I didn’t know at the time so I found myself right back at it with the whole learning and building a business phase.
I guess I wanted to create that distinction. I think sometime we hear about what someone’s “perfect” schedule is like but we don’t know what it took them to get there. The truth is there have been times when I was working 80 hours a week and there have been times when I would just work a few hours a week.
Fortunately, now I have a little more stability. I typically wake up at 6:00 have a spiritual study for about 20 min. Then focus on the one single most important thing for the day (something I determined the previous day). Then around 8:30, I’ll check and knock out any important e-mails, and then just get going on the rest of my day focusing on the things that are the most important and being ready for whatever else that day might bring. I usually finish around 5:00, play with kids, have dinner with my family, and then spend time with my wife and get to bed around 10:00.
Oh and I try to work out or do some kind of physical activity at least 4 times a week whether that is just a quick 15 minute crossfit style workout, go for a jog, or surfing with my kids. Most workouts are about midday (when I need a break from work).
What is the biggest business mistake that taught you a powerful lesson? Would you mind sharing how it made you the person you are today?
A little more than a year before getting into real estate, I started a satellite dish business. The first few months were great. I was making more money than ever before. After working the #’s, I figured out a plan that would make us 1M over the next 12 months.
So I got a business partner, a big office, lots of staff and we set out to make this plan a reality. One year later instead of a million dollars, I had $120,000 in debt, a partner that was stealing from me, and a failed business model.
Looking back it’s hard to say EXACTLY what the biggest mistake I had made and honestly that experience is a huge part of where I am today. So I don’t want to encourage people to be overly paranoid. I think the #1 thing I could have done differently was to be more open and direct with people. I was so afraid of “conflict” and therefore did not address concerns as soon or as directly as I should have when they arose.
The plan itself was still solid but I should have been more direct (or broken up with sooner) with my partner when he always was late to meetings and didn’t follow through with commitments.
I could have been more direct with the sales guy who worked when he felt like it therefore messing up the schedule for the installers and I could have been more open and direct with the recruiting manager who didn’t have one person ready for our summer sales program.
Leadership is probably the #1 attribute you need to succeed as an entrepreneur. Sometimes, that includes having needed somewhat uncomfortable yet crucial conversations with those you work with. This might be a partner, loved one, employee or vendor or contractor of sorts. Sometimes we feel like when we give someone direct, open and honest feedback or constructive “criticism” we are being “mean” but what I have come to find over the years is it is actually more mean when you don’t, because it never ends well for either of you.
Having those conversations sooner than later allows them to grow and develop or helps you each to realize it’s not the right fit sooner than later.
When times get tough, what would you say motivates you to keep going? To not hit the snooze button and to keep fighting for your goals.
I remember a long time ago hearing a mentor say everyday when he gets up he puts on his problem solving hat. By doing so, he has labeled himself as a problem solver so when problems arise (which they always will) he isn’t thrown off by them because he knows that is his job and it just comes with the territory.
Business is so much of a mind game. The outcome can be extraordinary but if you get burned out mentally and emotionally on the way you won’t last long. Shoot for the stars but be prepared to hit a couple meteorites on your way and adjust accordingly! :)
What trait would you consider made you the best entrepreneur and house flipper you are today?
- The ability to cut through the clutter and identify the most basic essential components required to be successful in this business.
- The ability to then take those components and make them a process. Doing this takes more time at the beginning but once you do it, it will give back to you a hundred fold.
Otherwise getting clarity and focus and then creating a system around the few essential things and ignoring the rest.
What are the top 3 success tips that you would give anyone starting a business?
1) Get clear on what you want to do and how you want to do it. There are 1 Million ways to make 1 Million but if you focus on two of them at the same time, you won’t get anywhere.
2) Find someone who is doing what you want to do and figure out how you can learn from or duplicate them (while still making it your own)
3) Shoot for making it “work” right away and take action accordingly yet at the same time expect the unexpected and be ready to adjust and adapt as needed.
Are you using any apps that help you stay on track from day-to day?
I love all things google. Gmail. Google docs, google calendar, and I also use boomerang to help manage e-mail.
What are your goals for the next 5 years?
I believe what get’s measured gets done therefore I have a very clear financial goal of making $10,000,000 a year in the next 5 years (by the time I am 40)
Some might say having a goal like this is “worldly” but I’ve found that without having a very clear measurable goal allows me to reverse engineer everything else so I create the process and systems to help me get that goal.
Don’t get me wrong I have many other goals which focus more on lifestyle, and being able to help those in need but those are more of my “why” or things that help me keep perspective. I’m a big believer that a goal needs to be very concrete so you can work backwards and figure out how you will accomplish it. In business I like financial goals because they are easy to measure.
Oh and everything I do I have to do while still focusing on the things that are most important to me such as God, my family, my health etc. Those are what I call the non negotiables. Without them nothing else matters.
What advice would you give to our readers who want to start a business today? Where should they start?
Every entrepreneur goes through 3 stages and sometimes these stages are repeated.
- Info dumping stage. If you don’t know what you want to do, you need to immerse yourself in blogs, podcasts, books etc. This is soo easy to do in today’s day and age. Start general and get more focused as you discover topics/niches you are most interested in.
- Clarity. Once you know what you want to do continue to study that niche and get clear on how you want to do it. Not only do you need to be clear on what you are going to do but how to do it. At this point you actually need to be very careful about taking in too much information and need to gain the ability to not feel like you have to implement everything you hear. Your learning is now more focused on doing research when you have specific questions in your specific niche vs random topics of every sort without any clear direction of what you are trying to accomplish.
- Implementation. All of the information and clarity in the world won’t do a thing for you unless you take action on it. Once I realized 90% of the world’s problem was they just didn’t do anything it helped me realize if I only did that I would be ahead of the game. If you can combine clarity of what you want to do with an implementation oriented attitude, being ready to solve problems and adjust as needed, you have the “formula” to be successful at any business you want. Oh and be sure to implement systems and processes along the way so you can also have the lifestyle you want and a business that will eventually start to give back to you!
For anyone who is interested in learning more about house flipping, I put together a 101 training video just for your readers that you can get for free. With no prior experience and without investing your own money, I'll show you how you can take steps today to flipping your first house and working your way to financial freedom.