5 Signs You’re Likely To Fail As A Real Estate Investor And Entrepreneur

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Let me start with a hard question: “Are you a real real estate investor or a fake?”

Wait. Don’t answer that. The truth is… time will tell.

Unfortunately, time — as it relates to real estate investing — is pretty harsh. Most real estate investors get chewed up and spit out before they even know what hit ‘em. Upwards of 87% according to some estimates.

But it’s not just real estate wholesalers and flippers.

It’s been published that 96% of businesses go out of business within the first 10 years, and over half fold up their tent by the end of the first year.

But that number is even high for real estate wholesalers and flippers…

… because of the low barrier of entry to get into business. It requires hardly any capital to get rolling… and you can read a book today, register a business tomorrow, and be a “flipper” or “wholesaler” by the end of the week… which is AWESOME. Still, it also makes it easy for many people who haven’t fully adopted the mindset and skill-set needed to be successful in running a business.

So, wouldn’t it be nice if you could diagnose your real estate investor’s “realness” — your likelihood of success — before getting clobbered?

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone told you the brutal truth about exactly why many real estate investors fail?

Well, “nice” might not be the best word.

After all, the brutal truth is rarely “nice.” But, profitable, career-saving, and life-changing? Absolutely!

In my 10 years working with real estate investors, I’ve seen thousands of real estate investors come and go. And the deepest irony — the cold, hard, brutal truth — is that it all comes down to five things those who fail tend to ignore (and those who succeed master). 

The good news is you can overcome these common killers by having your eyes wide open to them and digging into the concrete solutions and resources I’ve included throughout.

1. You’re Following Emotion vs. Knowing Your Numbers

Before we dive in, you NEED this tool… Carrot ROI Calculator.

Investors who fail tend to open up their wallets based on emotional decisions vs. actually nailing their numbers and trusting the numbers.

When emotion takes over you tend to stop investing in marketing before it has a chance to succeed… you tend to make offers based on your “gut” vs. a tried and true formula… and you tend to bounce around from one thing to another in search of that magic bullet like a pinball machine.

One way people constantly get caught up in the emotions vs. the numbers is in how much money you invest in your business.

How much money do you invest in a marketing strategy?

How much money do you invest in a property?

How much money do you invest in your education?

As soon as emotion creeps into the equation and a mathematical formula stops being used… you’re on the fast track to losing your butt (and not knowing why).

As a real-world example, let’s say two people are doing PPC marketing. 

Investor #1: Likely To Fail…

Investor #1 started with their budget rather than knowing the numbers. They have set aside $2,000 for PPC marketing for motivated house sellers. Plenty to turn a profit, right?

They start their PPC campaign and quickly find out that the first few weeks of a PPC campaign are all about honing the campaign and tweaking it… so they end up spending $800 in the first 3 weeks. They have 7 leads to show for it, which they’re working on… but no deals yet.

By week 4 they have their campaign honed a bit more but have spent $1250 of the $2,000 they had set aside… with a total of 10 leads.

Bummed, they start to think, “Man, maybe PPC isn’t for me. I’ve already gone through my budget; let me stop this campaign and figure something else out”.

With that, they stop their campaign and chalk it up as a “failure” and a loss. $2,000 in the hole and now onto “focus” on a new strategy.

Investor #2: Likely To Succeed In A Big Way…

Investor #2 started with the numbers… not their budget.

This investor worked the numbers… and it looks something like this…

PPC marketing calculation

What do those acronyms mean…

APD = Average Profit Per Deal

CPC = Cost Per Click (for your PPC marketing)

LPD = Leads per deal (how many leads on average until you close a deal)

MIN = The minimum you’ll need to allocate for your PPC marketing to have it work well
MAX = A number you pick that is the max you’ll invest before you close a deal

Investor #2 knows her numbers well and can see that based on those average numbers, they shouldn’t expect any deals until, at a bare minimum, $1,200 has been invested in a well ran PPC campaign.

But, she also knows that in the real world, things don’t always work out like we hope they do in our calculations… so she sets a “max” that she’d invest in that marketing channel to close a $15k deal (her average) before she seriously thinks about shifting focus to something else or stopping the money invested into that marketing channel.

Investor #2 launched her PPC campaign, and it doesn’t go as well as she thought… she blew past the $1,200 mark without a deal… but she followed her numbers and kept investing, and at $2,500 in… she closed a deal that brought in $17k gross.

Subtract out the $2,500 in PPC costs, which turned into a nice $14,500 profit. BAM!

Now she has more firepower to invest in this marketing channel and work on improving those numbers even more.

The moral of the story is?

Investor #1 followed emotion and started with their “budget”… Investor #2 followed the numbers and started with knowing her numbers then set the budget that’ll lead her to success.

Investor #1 is already onto another marketing strategy and discouraged… Investor #2 is ready to scale things up and happy as a clam.

Here is the PERFECT example of Investor #2. Adam Mitchell could have easily let emotion hold him back…

"I blew 40k on marketing" - Adam Mitchell, Investor

If you haven’t seen this section of our SEO vs. PPC Infographic… it maps out how PPC and SEO work regarding timelines and expectations. Remove emotion from the equation and stick with the numbers.

ppc marketing roi

If you don’t know your numbers and create your marketing budget… you’ll stop investing your money too early and quit before it has a chance to work.

I know that sounds obvious but stick with me. On the real estate front, I hear this all the time:

“PPC doesn’t work.”
“Facebook doesn’t work.”
“Craigslist doesn’t work.”
“Blogging doesn’t work.”
“Video marketing doesn’t work.”

However, every time I dig deeper, “doesn’t work” means, “Well, I tried it for two weeks. Dropped $500. But didn’t see any results.”

You see the problem, right?

While it might be cliche, the old truism is true: “It takes money to make money.” Simply “trying out” one so-called success method at a time, dipping your toes in but not investing in it — i.e., putting your money where your mouth is — is a sure way to sign your real estate investor death warrant.

Ironically, this same fatal mistake kills even more real-estate investors when investing itself.

It’s strange to think, but many still expect to get something out of nothing. That’s one of the reasons many folks get involved in real estate investing. As BiggerPocket’s points out, “How can I get started in Real Estate Investing if I don’t have any money?” is one of the most common questions they get asked.

And their answer?

You can’t.

That’s it — it’s that simple. You cannot invest in real estate with no money down. It is impossible; in fact, it is antithetical (big word) to the definition of “investment.”

Need a little motivational push? Consider the words of veteran wholesaler and coach, Tom Krol in Getting Your First Deal Done + Scaling Up To 5+ Deals Per Month:

I really want to encourage everybody…that when you are having things come up against you, you’ve got to make it happen. It’s right at that moment when you’re so close. You’ve got to double down. You gotta punch the gas and not pump the brake…

2. You’re Not Putting In The Time

This second failure is so similar to the first that I almost left it off my list. But there are subtle differences between the two that add up fast.


Putting in the time doesn’t mean physically “being there” doing busy work. Putting in the time means you purposefully cut out the crap in your life between you and your goals…

… so you have so much ample focus time that there’s no way you won’t succeed.

Putting in the time doesn’t mean…

  • Carving out 30 mins here and there when you can fit it in
  • Hopping on the forums and endlessly reading and “learning” stuff you may need to know someday
  • Going through 3 training courses before you get off your duff and start doing the business (making offers, looking at properties, etc.)
  • Saying, “I’ll give this a try for a couple of months and if it doesn’t work, I’ll move on”

Putting in the time means you’re getting serious with yourself and saying…

“I know this works. Others have done it before me. I’ll work it until it works and relentlessly hack out anything that doesn’t help me reach my goals. It’s not a matter of ‘if’… but a matter of ‘when’ it’ll happen. The only variable is time, not my effort or ability to make it happen”.

If you feel you don’t have enough time to invest in yourself and your business, you’re likely thinking too short-term and not long-term.

You’re thinking about how you can make a quick buck and have that instant gratification vs. building something that’ll truly last, make an impact, and leave a legacy.

If you’re not willing to bust your bottom for the next 18 months…

… (even if 12 months of it is utterly failing at every step), you may do yourself a favor and find something else you can invest 18 months into a full bore and switch to that.

Every day when I walk into my office here at theLoft where Carrot is based, I see this at the top of my stairs.

never give up

3. You’re Quitting Too Soon

I know what you’re thinking, “How is perseverance different from time?”

The short answer is that success regularly takes longer than we expect… it also takes a lot more blood, sweat, and tears.

In other words, the reason real estate investors fail when it comes to perseverance is the same reason why 95% of dieters fail to lose weight and keep it off, why people always say they’re going to start exercising and then give up after a few days, and why so many people make new year’s resolutions that never see the light of day.

Are You Closer Than You Realize?


Psychology Today blames much of this failure to persevere on our brain chemistry:

“Neuroscientific research shows that higher levels of dopamine might separate the internal drive some people have to persevere while lower dopamine levels cause others to give up.”

So does that mean some people are just built to take the hard knocks necessary for success, and others aren’t?

Absolutely not.

The brain is an amazing organ, and — thanks to what’s known as “neuroplasticity” — if you haven’t been the person who perseveres up to now, you have the power to change that.

The key to becoming a person of perseverance are to increase dopamine levels by:

  • Achieving at least one goal or mini achievement each day, no matter how small.
  • Be methodical and create self-imposed deadlines.
  • Increasing expectation and belief through positive self-talk.
  • Be your own best cheerleader. When you achieve something, be intentional about celebrating.

And just in case all that feels a bit too touchy-feely for you, consider the words of Ben Horowitz in The Hard Thing About Hard Things:

Great CEOs face the pain.

They deal with the sleepless nights, the cold sweats, and what my friend the great Alfred Chuang (legendary cofounder and CEO of BEA Systems) calls “the torture.”

Whenever I meet a successful CEO, I ask them how they did it. Mediocre CEOs point to their brilliant strategic moves or their intuitive business sense or a variety of other self-congratulatory explanations. The great CEOs tend to be remarkably consistent in their answers.

They all say, “I didn’t quit.”

4. You’re “Focusing” On Too Many Opportunities

I once got an email from a former member of ours.

His email said…

Carrot seems like a good product, but I have been focusing on too many marketing strategies.

In case you missed that, the words “focus” and “too many” are opposites.

The official definition of “focus” is…


This member led himself to a sure and swift “business death” by “focusing on too many things.”

As long as we’re quoting brilliant thinkers, Confucius once said…


When real estate investors — or any entrepreneur for that matter — focus on doing too many things — i.e., chasing too many rabbits — they end up sucking at pretty much all of it.

And ironically, early success is often the biggest hindrance to future focus.

For instance, I had some big early wins when I started my business. This meant lots of people wanted to do business with me. However, most of the propositions were in areas not core to the business I had created.

As a real estate investor, you may experience the same thing. At times, I found it hard to give a resounding “no,” but I knew that if I didn’t, I would spend a lot of time on things that were not a priority and didn’t fit into my long-term plan.

Today, I am glad I was so hard-assed about my priorities. And that’s exactly why a laser-focused, long-term vision is a must; otherwise, you are likely to sway this way whenever something else comes along, or you get distracted.

In addition to learning to say “no” to opportunities that don’t align with your focus, discipline is another ingredient needed. Afford Anything puts it plainly when talking about getting rich by saying, “Focus on what’s important. Ignore everything else.”

Grab our free Real Estate Investor Business Plan to overcome this lack of focus. Inside, you’ll find everything you need to build a solid foundation to sustain your business over the long term and zero in on what truly matters.

[Case Study] From Teacher to $80k/Month Wholesaling Real Estate in a Competitive Market

5. You’re Just Learning Real Estate Skills, NOT Business Skills

We’ve found that newer real estate entrepreneurs are under the impression that to be successful, they only need to understand things related to real estate.

But any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you that to succeed, you need other business skills like communication, persuasion, team building, marketing, etc. Real estate investors who don’t have the right business skills are far more likely to fail than their counterparts who invest across the board.

For example, you may be brilliant at what you do, but if you can’t market yourself, you’ll never make money.


From these statistics, you can see that most businesses fail due to a lack of business skill

Chris Ducker says it like this:

“Most people seem to think that being a successful internet marketer is as easy as getting a website built and getting their own domain name and they could not be farther from reality.”

This mindset is developed from hearing how “easy it is to make money on the Internet” by scaly online entrepreneurs whose sole aim is to line their wallets with the profits of gullible opportunity seekers.

The reality is that no real estate agent just closes sales… and no website just gets traffic. Both need to be marketed. From a real estate investor point of view, Inman reports that physical brick-and-mortar walk-ins now account for fewer leads than websites. Now, you should know that in their findings, a dismal 3% of leads were generated via walk-ins and 4% via online methods.

But what you need to understand about this finding is that the numbers for online lead generation are so low. Although most real estate investors agree that a website is essential to their business, they don’t fully realize what an online presence entails, nor how to generate leads online.

For the sake of clarity: if real estate investors knew how to market their website, their website would generate a lot more leads than the 4% they currently are.

Bigger Pockets confirms this finding and adds, “Only if you create that awesome, SEO-friendly website, along with citations, profiles, and videos, and start producing awesome blog posts centered around your community will you benefit from this form [online] of marketing.”

As an antidote, look at our 90 Day Action Plan, designed to “break down exactly what to do to get your first 100 cash buyer leads, and your first 30 seller leads.”

So, What Path Are You Headed Down?

I want everyone to know that it’s OK to fail.

Failure is good. I’ve learned the most when I’ve failed… not when I’ve won.

So failure is part of the process.

Failure shouldn’t be a door closing but it should be a shortcut to the next door that’ll open very soon that will get you closer to the success you’re going after in your life.

Yes, failure is OK but what isn’t OK is choosing to ignore these 5 sure business killers that will lead you to failure over and over and over again.

So right now, take stock of yourself and where you are.

Are you…

  1. Leading with emotion or with knowing your numbers?
  2. Putting the time in?
  3. Persevering even when you feel like you should stop?
  4. Focusing on one path or chasing multiple rabbits?
  5. Learning how to build a business or just learning tactical “deal making” skills?

Oh, if none of those are quite describing you and the reason you’re not reaching your goals… here’s a bonus #6 that is often the most confusing and toughest one to own up to.

Brian Buffini, Chairman and founder of Buffini & Company — America’s largest real estate training and coaching company — nails it on the head:

“Strangely enough, the majority of people we encounter have a fear of success rather than a fear of failure.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Of course, there’s always a chance I missed one of the killer pitfalls you’ve seen in your career. If I did, share it in the comments below.

Also, share with me below if any of these hit you in your gut?
Let’s squash these and make YOUR GREATEST IMPACT this year.

Trevor Mauch

Trevor is the CEO of Carrot and knows a thing or two about inbound marketing and generating leads online in the real estate industry. As an investor himself, he's generated tens of thousands of real estate leads and is a leading expert in inbound marketing for investors and agents. In addition, his true passion is helping entrepreneurs grow businesses that truly help you live a life of purpose.

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14 responses to “5 Signs You’re Likely To Fail As A Real Estate Investor And Entrepreneur

  1. 1) Time:
    Just for fun I wanted to test myself against this. I have looked at other people. What they do for their site, how long they work daily on their site. I hear things like “man I worked 5 hours this week on my site”, and they feel like that is a lot. In my case, I am sure I am an extreme. I forget to eat because I am working on my site non-stop. I just don’t stop thinking about it. I am definitely not successful (yet). But I think I really am making progress. This article is absolutely right on!

    2) Money
    When I was down to my last 10 grand, I had a choice. I could go back home (Florida) and save on rent (in CT as I have a house in FL) and thus not having to pay 2 sets of rent (one rent in CT and one mortgage in FL), thus stretching my 10K for as long as I could… but then what. The longer you do not market, the less money you will have to market as money will go away (even if more slowly if I went back to FL). So once the money is gone then it is game over. So the smart choice would be, spent the 10 K on marketing, and do it right and you have the possibility to make a deal. I did just that and got 14K as my first wholesale deal.

    3) Perseverance.
    My first deal I made a mistake. I did the ARV wrong. It was a disaster. Before that, trying to get the contract signed. I spent a ton of money on marketing and nothing seems to work. Every time someone called me and was motivated something always prevented me from getting the contract signed. It was devastating and such a test. As if the universe purposely threw deals at me and then yanking them away from me just to see when I would crack. And I did. I did several times. I just got back to it every time I gave up. It takes about an hour to realize after I throw in the towel that giving up will accomplish only one thing for sure. Nothing! One day.. I did get that deal. My 14K reward for not giving up.

    4) Focus:
    As mentioned before this is all I can think of. My site, My financial freedom, my dreams and goals. I studied, imitated improved and created. I studied the rules of SEO, suited the 3LPD, I imitated what other people had on their site that were ranking high, I understood why it worked and I improved it. I put my own touches in and that eventually lead to creating my own techniques to rank. Now I have a system developed that most likely is not mine original, but who cares. It is a ton of work but I am on first page of google only after 2 months of seriously tackling SEO and ranking. I started when I bought the 3LPD. That was the day I realized I need to make a serious effort getting my sites up there.

    5) Business Skill:
    THis one I have not yet fully mastered. And I think this is why I made the mistake with my first deal. But I am learning. Agian. this article is right on. And as you can see… I am not just saying it. I lived it. I am living it.

    1. LOVE this Jerryll! Love it. Haha, man entrepreneurship is a roller coaster. Just like any roller coaster though… it’s no fun if it’s always flat or always heading uphill… the downs are a part of the journey and help make it all one sweet ride.

      Keep cranking man and we’re here for you every step of the way! Not just on the website and marketing stuff… but every step of the way w/ the whole ride :-)

  2. Nice article. :-) My business is growing. Things aren’t always neat and tidy, but I’m definitely making progress and doing deals. This year and next are going to be big growth years for my business.

    I do ok with – most of these things.

    I’m pretty good at – Perseverance.
    I can be persistent to the point of being stubborn. I definitely have times I want to give up. But then I remind myself if I don’t do this, then I’ll need to go get a job – gasp! Been there, done that for far too long. Then I get up and start working and hustling again.

    The area I struggle with? Focus.
    I really struggle with this one. I like single family, small multifamily, wholesaling, wholetailing, rehabbing, rentals, buying with different kinds of financing. I like different kinds of real estate investments and love creative financing. I want to do them all, or be open to them all…

    Now I keep reminding myself my long-term goal is to own 100 doors. So I’m gonna do whatever I have to to keep the lights on while I work towards that goal. Everything I do is working towards that. When I’m deciding yes or no on an opportunity, I ask myself if it will help me get to 100 doors. BUT… I also have to have fun while I’m doing it. The jobs before full time RE investing were practical in the short term (for staying just over broke!), but no fun!

    I’ve now decided to try out different ways to buy deals and make money – LO, sub2, hard money, do some assignments, do some rehabs, buy some rentals and multifamily along the way. Make some money for working capital. Find out which deals and areas in the business I seem to be better at and which I enjoy the most. Pay down some debt, be able to hire more services and an assistant. For sure hire a bookkeeper. I can be good at this, but I’m very tired of doing it and need to focus on higher level stuff. Put systems in place. Buy myself time to breathe. Hmmm…. All this doesn’t seem very focused… See what I mean? This is where I struggle the most.

    1. Thanks for putting yourself out there Janel!

      It rocks seeing this stuff.

      You know what, focus is my biggest problem as well. Always a struggle for me. I’ve found some things to really help me hone in my focus over the years but still always have an issue w/ that.

      But you’ve got the mindset needed to crush it for sure!

      Just figure out what’ll get you to the 100 doors the most streamlined and make sure you’re always taking actions each week that do that stuff. As long as you’re always moving forward on that part… the big goal and making progress on it weekly… you can still do several other things to bring in revenue on the day to day. I don’t see anything wrong w/ that at all.

      Where things go wrong is when we take our eye off that big single goal and weeks fly by where we didn’t make any measureable progress toward that thing…b but we did tons of little busy things.

      Keep pushing and you’ll get it! You’re an inspiration for sure!

  3. The adventure Begins! Tomorrow I have an iterview with an underwriter for funding my real estate investment business. The big take away from this article and all of the comments is that even having a real estate investment business is REAL! I have been trying to get into this business for well..let’s just say, A Very long time! This is my one shot at it after persistently looking for the right option to get started. I have no idea how it’s going to turn out, but the fact that I have made it this far is at least encouraging. Articles like this help very much and it helps to hear from other investors and their real stories of worries and failures and not just that hyped up Bull Crap from people just want to make money off of you. Thanks for this article and I look forward to sharing my success stories with you!

  4. Yesthis does make sense now all I got to do is take the first step doing this and do same every day but take another additional step until I reach my goal. But I was told of a way to make deals on property that has equity where the sellers gets paid and so do I with none of my money in the deal . So is that possible or is the other guy telling me a lie? Can’t remember the other guys name…lol

  5. Great article man. Being a Carrot customer has been great thus far! Keep up the great tips and knowledge man. Definitely worth the $$$!

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