104: Turning Family Partnerships into a Scalable Business with Ashton Levarek
Nearing the end of his tenure with the military, Ashton Levarek wasn’t too sure where he was headed next. Out of the blue, his brother mentioned to him the opportunity he saw in real estate. After running some numbers, they quickly learned about the industry, and started making offers. This was the genesis of their family-run and -operated business, Valkere Investment Group.
They started “small” with two duplexes (four units totals). These were not without their issues, but like all great success stories, they only really remember the lessons. And upon the search for their next project, it was at that point, Ashton’s brother’s wife asked the team, “Why are we only working small deals?”
Think about it, it was the same amount of work to acquire and manage the property, why bother working on only a few units at a time when they can simply create the systems and scale endlessly?
From there, they’ve since jumped into apartment syndications and other various joint ventures. Up to date, they are closing on a 16-unit apartment syndication and are continuing to grow their brand and business reputation.
Some takeaways from our conversation with Ashton:
1) You’re not asking, you’re providing. If you’re in real estate, or any kind of business for that matter, you’re a salesperson. As per the different niches in real estate investing, at some point, you might find the need to ask for funds from private lenders or other investors. It’s not always easy to get in front of people and ask for money, and that’s okay. As long as you’re honest and well-educated (seriously, be honest and get educated), you’re providing people an opportunity to make a passive return on their passive investment. Don’t beg for money and don’t deceive people. But do, however, be enthusiastic and come from contribution.
2) Clarity with partners. The business of money can tear apart close relationships very easily if not handled accordingly. In any kind of relationship, family, friends, or otherwise, be clear about your roles and expectations with one another and the money at stake. Even if one person out of the group is on a different page, it can make for some very difficult and sour relationships. Be clear about everyone’s position from the very beginning.
3) Accommodate each other’s weaknesses by focusing on your own strengths. Don’t waste time by having everyone do everything. For example, Ashton and his team would each take turns analyzing deals and then compare what they each came up with. That’s a waste of time and opportunity. You should definitely spend a considerable amount of time conducting due diligence, but it doesn’t take a group of people to do the same work. Instead, find everyone’s strengths, and put those strengths to work in various parts of the business. In doing this, the business will be more efficient and effective AND everyone’s productivity is sure to increase because they are all doing work they prefer to be doing. Furthermore, at a macro-level, you will be able to see which roles overlap and should be cut, as well as which roles are needed to fill in gaps.
4) Branding in business. Your business is only as strong as your brand. If you aren’t a brand, you’re nothing but a commodity. Here are some ways to build your brand courtesy of Ashton: Market, network, and build credibility. 1) Market: Maximize public exposure and/or put out content for people to find out about you and what you do. This can be through social media, a website, a blog or newsletter, writing an ebook, etc. 2) Network: Physically (or virtually) get in front of people. Go to meetups. Speak face to face. Provide value on a personal level. Send referrals to people in need. 3) Build credibility: Aside from being honest, enthusiastic, and educated, actually share your work and experience with people. Don’t be boastful as to put other people down, but don’t be afraid to share your wins and successes (and occasional losses) with other people. It says a lot more when someone can see for themselves your track record and portfolio than simply talking about your business from an outsider’s perspective.
If Ashton could go back and talk to his 16 year old self, he’d tell him, “Get into it sooner!”
An unexpected benefit of real estate investing, Ashton said, was learning how to run a business that has opened a whole new way of life for him and his family. (Personal growth and closer familial relationships are a plus as well.)
A piece of advice Ashton would tell his friends looking to get started in real estate would be to have “Clarity, commitment, and take action.” Be clear about your goals. Commit to your goals daily. With daily commitment, you will never fail with the action you take—you will either succeed or you will learn.
Aston recommends using monday.com to track projects within your business, as well as assign different tasks to different people.
Ashton recommends reading The Vision Driven Leader: 10 Questions to Focus Your Efforts, Energize Your Team, and Scale Your Business by Michael S. Hyatt to help you develop your vision.
Honorable mentions: Never Split the Difference by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz, Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff, Traction by Gino Wickman, Raising Private Capital by Matt Faircloth, and Best Ever Apartment Syndication Book by Joe Fairless and Theo Hicks
If you’d like to get in touch with Ashton, visit:www.valkeregroup.com or follow him on Instagram @valkereinvestmentgroup
Thank you to everyone that has reached out to us to connect them with our trusted real estate agents in their area! And congratulations to those who have even closed deals using our referrals! For those that didn’t know, we can help connect you with real estate investor friendly agents in your area to help you get started investing in real estate. We recently made some changes to our website that we believe will better suit you in your real estate investing needs. For more information, visit www.millennial-realestate.com and head over to the “Start Investing” Tab. Best wishes and see you in the next one!