Your Business Name, your Website & Domain Name, your Phone Number - these and much more form your Business Brand. Your Brand is VERY important - but at the same time, it's also LESS important than ever before.
Welcome to Episode #34 - Starting Your Real Estate Business
So I'm sure you're aware that my Business Brand is "Blue Chariot", which is part of the name of each of my Real Estate Business endeavors and related service offerings. There's Blue Chariot Properties, and Blue Chariot Management, Blue Chariot Realty and this [... and Landlord!] Podcast is by Blue Chariot Media. There are various Domain Names and Websites for each of these, and likewise each contains some version of "Blue Chariot". The main website that encompasses all of them is BlueChariot.com.
My phone numbers for these various entities are 844-YES-BLUE, 844-321-BLUE, and 844-USA-BLUE... Notice the trend? Business Cards, Refrigerator & Car Magnets, Shirts, Hats, Social Media Accounts, and more - all feature the Blue Chariot Name / Logo, Website Address, Phone Numbers... I could go on, but I think you've got the idea. A LOT of effort has gone into creating "Blue Chariot" as a Real Estate Business Brand - I've even Trademarked it!
And as I've said in the intro, this is all VERY important - but at the same time, LESS important than every before. So should you go through all this effort in creating your Real Estate Business!?
In short... Absolutely NOT! Worrying about your Business Name, Domain Name, Website, Phone Numbers, and on (right from the start) - may just become an excuse of non-action, delays and wasted time, while you could be working on obtaining your first or next Rental Property.
Now don't get me wrong - there is a time and place for these Business Brand building efforts... But don't put the cart before the horse. Get your first property. Get 2... Get 3 or 4! Because your first properties are likely to be held in your personal name anyway. You may choose to hold title along with your spouse, but try to get them in just your name alone if possible (up to as many as 10). As this keeps your spouses name free for 10 more - for a total of 20.
And if you go with multi-family properties (Duplexes, Triplexes, and Quads) - that could be as many as 80 doors before you really need to go the commercial route. Although its unlikely you're going to find 20 Quads that you'd actually WANT to own - but you see what I'm saying... Optimize the use of loans in your personal name to get as many of them as you can and with the highest door count - before you really ever need a business entity.
I actually created my first "Blue Chariot" Business Entity (Blue Chariot, Inc.) in January of 2015, right after I decided to go all-in on Real Estate Investing and becoming a Landlord. This was actually a mistake, because I did it wrong. I then recreated it in May of 2015 as Blue Chariot, LLC - and I also did that wrong (related to short-term versus long-term hold entities). But I made it work until 2017 when I created Blue Chariot Properties, LLC.
And so now, my Rentals are owned either by Blue Chariot Properties, LLC or a sub-entity owned by this entity. And while I put a lot of time and effort in advance to create my Real Estate Business Brand and entity structure - I don't want you to get caught in the weeds of that. I did that because this was not my first or only business, and I knew where I was going - I knew what I was moving towards.
But for most, spending time on a business name, domain name, website, email address, phone number, business cards, and all that - are things that can be just as well done later as now. Because NOW is best spent looking for and acquiring your first or next Rental Property. And having a nice business card or killer website isn't going to get you any properties - at least not early on. For most, spending ANY time early on working on a business name, business cards or a website - will just be a rabbit hole you'll get pulled down and delay your getting a property. Later, I'll tell you what you SHOULD be doing instead.
Now at some point you will want and need a business name, cards, website, and all... just not at the start. And when you do get to that point, there are many things to consider.
Now I just happen to own almost 500 Domain Names. Some are better than others, but many of them would be considered Premium Domains (lots of .COM's). Occasionally I sell a few, when someone offers a decent price - but for the most part, I just hold onto them for use when I or a client needs a great Domain Name for that killer website.
So when I was looking for a Domain Name for my Real Estate Brand, BlueChariot.com was already in my inventory. When I first came across this Domain Name years earlier, I loved it! But I had no idea what I'd use it for, but I knew that relatively short / unique Domains that are easy to spell and almost picture the logo when you say them - are worth grabbing when you can and just hold onto them.
I highly recommend that you do the same prior to naming your business. So while I don't suggest going through all the effort of creating your Business Brand before getting started actually acquiring properties. When you are ready to create your Business Brand - please - please - please, don't name your business first, and then go out and search for the Domain Name after. This is how you end up with a non .COM Domain Name that has INC, LLC, NC (or whatever State abbreviation matches where you live) - as part of your Domain Name, along with dashes and numbers. So PLEASE, don't commit the crime against your business of sticking it with a horrible Domain Name.
You get the ideal Domain Name BEFORE naming your business (even if you have to buy it from someone like me who collects great Domain Names; or obtain it from an auction site). Then once you've obtained that great Domain Name, you then name your Business to match - NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND! Domain Name First - Business Name Second (to match).
You've gotta get the domain name first. Because you can always name your business something else, but how can you be sure the matching domain name will be available unless you get it FIRST. I can always tell when a person named their business BEFORE getting their domain name - because the domain name sucks.
Get your Domain Name first, and of course I recommend searching for that great Domain Name at ViUX.com (V-I-U-X.COM), which is my Website & Web Hosting Business that also sells Domain Names. In fact, this business is what got me into collecting great Domain Names.
You can go directly to: portal.viux.com or domains.viux.com - to start a search. Enter names and keywords and it'll return available Domain Names that match, as well as Premium Domains that can be purchased for an additional fee. This also pulls in Domains for sale or auction at NameJet.com. And you should also check Sedo.com (S-E-D-O.COM) and SnapNames.com - along with many other such sites where Premium Domains are for sale.
Whatever you do and wherever - get the Domain Name first. Because when you get to the point where it makes sense (after you've got one or more properties), then this will be the Domain Name of your Website and Email Addresses - that you'll be giving out ALL THE TIME. And you want it to be short, simple, easy to spell, easy to remember - and an absolute perfect match to your Business name and Brand.
And another reason why I want you to wait until you've got one or more properties before focusing on creating your business, is that you should protect this Business Brand, by also buying other TLD's that match. A TLD is a "Top Level Domain", of which .COM is the most popular and recognized. But don't just get .COM if its available - also consider getting .NET; .ORG; .BIZ; .INFO; and others. Yes, this increases your cost, but it also protects your business brand. Do you really want someone else able to buy the .NET version of your .COM. I own over 20 TLD's each to protect ViUX.com and BlueChariot.com. Cuz I didn't want somebody else going out there and registering ViUX.NET or BlueChariot.NET.
So you don't want to get your ideal domain name, and then leave the other TLD's open and unprotected to be obtained by someone else. And there are plenty of examples of where the .NET or .CO version of a domain name is in use by a business that is more well known than that of whomever is using the matching .COM - which means that .COM owner didn't protect their brand, and thereby allowed some other company come along with the same name.
So to recap... You don't need a business brand from day one. You don't need a business name, or business cards, or a website or any of that right from the start. Focus your time and effort instead on getting your first or next property.
But when you do get to the point of being ready to create your business brand - don't commit the crime against your business of naming it first, and then going out and getting your domain name second. That really is a crime against your business when your domain name has dashes and numbers and INC or LLC or NC or anything else that makes it clear the .COM you really wanted to match the business name you choose was already taken.
Whenever possible (and there are a few instances where it's not) Get the domain name FIRST, and then name your business to match - not the other way around. And once you've gotten your ideal domain name - PROTECT IT! Buy the related TLD's and get a trademark.
Ok? And when you are at the point of creating your business, how should you handle the legal stuff? LegalZoom.com? Some other online source? A local attorney? I can say that at various times for different businesses I've gone each of these routes. But the most recent time, I paid a pretty hefty fee to a local attorney to draft all of my documents, but also got the electronic source files.
As result, now whenever I want to create a new business entity here in North Carolina, I've got all the doc's ready to go in WORD, that I know are perfect for this state and my situation, and it's just a matter of a quick search and replace specific to the new business name and details - along with an easy submission at the North Carolina Secretary of State website. And I can now create new business entities for myself quickly and for only the cost of the State filing.
But however you choose to handle it - once you do create a business entity, make sure to treat it LIKE A BUSINESS. Go out and get a bank account for the business. Get credit cards and accounts specific to the business. Keep your personal finances completely separate from the business. Get QuickBooks or some other accounting software and track all income and expenses for the business separately from your personal finances within this software.
So what should you be doing for your eventual business instead of worrying about names?
Instead of focusing on business names, business cards, a website and such - let's implement some daily habits that will get you a property under contract - that then results in your first (or next) Rental Property with a great long-term tenant present.
Now - That's a more involved list of actions than I'll have time to do justice in this episode, so that will be covered in one of the coming shows... "Daily Actions to get your first (or next) Rental Property."
On the main image for this episode you see a roof logo silhouette, the words "Real Estate", and then a reference to "Slogan Here". When you're starting your Real Estate Business, you'll certainly come across stock logo templates like this, and any designer you're likely to hire will almost certainly come up with something along these lines for your review and approval.
You'll spend time going over all the samples, drafts and mock-ups of what will become your Real Estate Business logo. You'll come up with several slogans, eventually settling on one that fits well enough with your business name, logo and brand. You'll then get business cards created with your nice new logo prominently featured.
Maybe you'll keep it simple and go with a card that just has your local phone number and your email address will be @Gmail.com. But if you're like many starting a new business (especially a Real Estate Business) - you'll want a very easy to remember (maybe even a vanity) phone number; and you'll certainly want your website address listed on your business cards.
So in addition to spending countless hours on your business logo, you'll spend weeks (or even months) working on a website for your new business. But because you almost certainly named your business prior to getting your Domain Name (a mistake) - the website address is something horrible.
Maybe you named your business "Prestige Home Buyers, LLC" - and PrestigeHomeBuyers.com was TAKEN, as was PrestigeHome.com or PrestigeHomes.com (just for example - I have no idea if these are active sites or not, available, taken or otherwise). And you certainly won't be getting Prestige.com - so you end up registering PrestigeHomeBuyersLLC.com (which is horrible); or PrestigeHomeBuyers.net.
When you see website and email addresses with LLC, INC, NC or non .COM extensions, it almost always means the person named their business BEFORE obtaining their domain name. So in this episode of the Podcast, I go into some detail as to how to avoid this mistake for (CRIME against) your business. I suggest getting your ideal domain name FIRST, and then naming your business SECOND - to match the domain name (and without any LLC or INC).
But all of this is not even the real point of this episode. The real purpose here is to express that all of this stuff related to your business name, business cards, website, etc... is NOT what you should be focused on in the first place. Don't get bogged down in the trap of spending your primary time and effort in setting up your business. Instead, spend that time and effort getting your first (or next) rental property!
You don't really have a business anyway until you've got some properties (I'd go as far as to say several). Because most people having one or two rentals don't have a business in place. So focus on getting some properties, and worry about creating a business later.
But when you do get to the point of being ready to create a business, this episode of the Podcast will provide you with some key insights into how to go about doing it right - so that you do not end up with a website address like Prestige-Home-Buyers-LLC.net.