If you’ve read any of my past posts, I am all about trying out new and different ways to make money. Whether it be through designing your own shirts with Teespring or putting your creative & professional work on Amazon KDP. Trying out new hustles could lead to a significant increase in income, or even just some extra pocket change. But every now and then we venture into a side business that just isn’t working. And at some point, you gotta know when to cut that hustle loose!
So today I’m going to tell you a story about the side hustle business that just wasn’t right for me, and some signs to look for, in your own side hustles, that will help you recognize when it’s time to pull the plug.
The Real Estate Agent Side Hustle
Once upon a very long time ago, I was in my early 20’s, in a serious relationship, and looking forward to the 2.5 kids, dog, and house in the burbs. I was working a full time administrative job and didn’t have any real career aspirations other than wanting to stay home one day with my imaginary 2.5 children. But I knew that could never happen with my low paying 9-5. So I decided to take real estate courses, get my licence, run the business on the side, and eventually (2-3 years later) do real estate full time.
I Was Gung-Ho
We’re talking straight A’s and completing courses in record time. I eventually obtained my real estate licence, and in my mind, everything was right on track. But as fate would have it, my relationship ended and there were no children in sight. I could have stopped the real estate side hustle right then and there but I thought, “What the heck, I’ve come this far, it would be such a waste to never use my real estate licence.”
So I went at it, full steam ahead.
I joined a brokerage that only took commission when I made a sale, and didn’t require me to pay any other fees, and I actually sold a house within my first few months! Reading that paragraph makes me wonder why I ever gave it up.
Oh yeah, here’s why…
Five Signs That It’s Time To Break Up With Your Side Hustle
1. It’s Taking up ALL of your Spare Time
And I’m not talking about, a few hours a week. Being a real estate agent consumed all of my time when I wasn’t at my full time job. This included evenings, weekends, and even mornings (seriously I was getting calls from my buyers at 4 AM!!!). Buyers wanted to see houses when THEY wanted to see houses. A good agent is flexible and able to work around their client’s schedule. This was a hard pill to swallow. I wanted to be there for my buyers at the drop of a dime, but I knew I couldn’t leave the stability of my full time position so soon after getting my licence. As a young 20 something, I found that I was constantly burning the midnight oil and had zero time or energy to pursue any sort of social life. My personal life was suffering, my full time job was suffering. I was suffering!
2. It Has A High Initial Investment
For most of my side hustles I try to minimize the initial investment. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. I generally look at the relationship between cost and ROI. In this particular case, I was ok with investing in my real estate credentials because my expectation was that I could recoup my investment with the sale of a single home. That was the driving force behind choosing a low-fee brokerage. I needed to recoup my costs as quickly as possible, and at the time, this seemed like the best way to accomplish that goal.
3. It Has A High On-Going Investment
The sheer amount of money it took to be an agent was staggering. The fees involved in maintaing your real estate licence, marketing yourself, and paying for operating expenses, added up and they added up FAST! If you’re considering becoming an agent, this article contains and excellent breakdown of fees for new Ontario Real Estate Agents. I think it’s pretty accurate as I remember spending around $3500 for my courses and on-going fees during that first year.
4. It’s Not Well Planned Out
I didn’t consider a short term or long term plan for my side hustle and that was a critical mistake. And no, saying to yourself, “I think I’ll do this part time for 2 years”, isn’t a plan! I didn’t consider the “how”. How am I going to make this side hustle work with my schedule? How am I going to afford the fees? What am I willing to sacrifice? I should have looked before I jumped, and considered the impact this side hustle would have on all aspects of my lifestyle.
5. It’s Not Brining You Any Joy
I think The Cupcake Lady summed it up perfectly in her interview. She derives so much joy from her side hustle that working at it doesn’t feel like a chore. I was so drained from my real estate agent hustle that I no longer loved researching the housing market. I hated answering calls and emails from my buyers and hated working on my business. Burnt out doesn’t even begin to describe it and I was getting no joy at all from practicing real estate.
It was getting out of control. And after about a year of working my regular job and being an agent, I came to the realization that…
My Real Estate Career Isn’t A Side Hustle…
It’s A Full Time Job In Sheep’s Clothing!
Oh how I wished this wasn’t true! Trying to juggle two full time jobs was difficult to say the least. So I broke up with that hustle. #ItsNotYouItsMe
Luckily I made enough money to at least break even on all the agent start-up costs and courses.
Man, after going through that experience, I have SO MUCH RESPECT for real estate agents. After only doing it for a year, I can honestly say these people work HARD for their money… so hard for it honey.
And lastly, if I could go back in time and do it all again, I would. Say what!??! But you just spent 1000 words explaining why real estate isn’t a good side hustle!!
Well I Would… But I Would Do It Differently.
I Would Find Ways To Work on My Side Hustle Before Bailing
I would take my time and do things that kept the hours of work down…
Like running open houses on weekends for more experienced agents. Or partnering with a full time agent, and passing my clients on to that person, in exchange for a small commission. I would make a plan and treat it like the part time job that it was supposed to be.
I would go with a real estate brokerage that charged marketing fees and other support fees.
My brokerage felt really “hands-off”, this is probably because they only took a small administrative commission when you made a sale. Even though a full service brokerage costs more, they have programs and courses in place to assist new agents, giving you a greater chance of success.
I would educate myself!
Instead of just relying on the basic real estate agent courses, which focus on terms and legalities, I would look into marketing & sales books that directly relate to the real estate industry… Like Your First Year In Real Estate and The Millionaire Real Estate Agent. These books have crazy good reviews. A few tips from them would have helped me out! Amazon, where were you when I was younger!?!
I probably also should have done a sales course. Sales was definitely my weakest point and maybe it would have helped shorten the learning curve. Becoming A Real Estate Agent looks like an interesting course. It was released in 2011, and is based on the American housing industry so I’m not sure how applicable the information is for Canadian agents, but any sales help would have been worth while!
I now understand the signs that tell me when a side hustle isn’t working.
I’ve worked hard to repair my post-breakup relationship with the real estate world. We’re like a modern family, we’ve found ways to adapt, change and grow. In time, I was able to refocus my love for the housing industry into a side hustle that is far more suited to my needs. Want to hear more about my current real estate hustle? Subscribe to The Side Hustle Stories and I’ll let you know when I post new stuff.
What About You?
Do you operate a successful real estate agent side hustle? If so, TELL ME YOUR SECRET!
Feel free to leave a comment, I love hearing your side hustle stories