How to become a Billionaire

Donald Trump wrote a book called “How to think like a billionaire’, which is by far the worst piece of crap ever written on Investing.  A far better book is The Art of the Deal which you can buy for under a buck! [Warning: None of the Donald’s books are on humility. They’re on creating a larger than life image and full of self-promotion and bragging. But then he’s not known for being modest.]

Anyway, I digress. The main focus of this post is this article, 7 ways to join the billion-dollar club. It essentially focused on businesses, but I realized with applies just as well to Real Estate Investors.

Here’s the gist of it:

1. Create and sustain a breakthrough value proposition.
Only buy value. Don’t go for those speculative deals and risky investments. Like buying in San Diego after everyone and their mother has gotten into investing there. Buy in places were the locals are still skeptical.

2. Exploit a high-growth market.
Find out which places are set to explode in terms of population and job growth.

3. Focus relentlessly on cash flow.
Hell yeah! Don’t buy property which doesn’t cashflow even after you put 20% down. That’s speculation. You’re not buying the value, but the hope that’ll it continue to appreciate and some other fool with take it off your hands.

4. Leverage big-brother alliances.
Find people like you and band together to get better pricing with builders and property managers. Even if you don’t always get better pricing, you usually get better service.

5. Pack your board with industry experts.
Always read up on the experts like and John Burns. Listen to the “gurus” but don’t follow them blindly. They always have something to gain so they’re advice is always biased.

6. Use marquee customers to build credibility.
Once you’ve done a few deals with partners, use them to promote your credibility. This is particularly useful when you want to raise money for a new project.[In my previous post I mentioned that buying foreclosures requires a lot of cash. This is where your credibility comes in handy].

7. Build an inside-outside leadership team.
You’ll need great people to handle the inside business[lawyers and CPAs] and the outside business[agents and property managers].

There you now know how to create a billion-dollar empire!

Check out my bookstore.

Buying a Cold Stone Creamery

A friend approached me over the weekend asking for advice on buying a Cold Stone Creamery.

We went over the numbers. They looked okay. The Seller was selling 5 of his stores for 1 times gross revenue [about 4 times net profit] or approximately $350-$400k each. He was willing to finance with only 20% down plus $20k franchise transfer fee which is a great way to get into it if you don’t have the money, or enough to qualify for an SBA loan.

The stores were located in good neighborhoods with 80,000+ people living in a 2 mile radius and in retail business centers doing over $1 billion worth of sales per year. The company requires a population of only 20,000 in a 2 mile radius and an average income of atleast $35k, but I don’t think these are enough to sustain the business. You want a LOT of people stopping by the store and they shouldn’t be too rich. Rich people live in population spare neighborhoods, have fewer children and are less likely to walk to the icecream store every night in summer since they’re out travelling the world. They’re kids are also less likely to work for $7 per hour so finding cheap manpower might be tough.

Apparently the seller claimed he was selling the stores because his brother was supposed to be doing the marketing and wasn’t pulling his weight. So he was getting rid of them. He said that there was minimal supervision required by the owners and it was ideal for absentee owners. I find that a little hard to belive that someone would sell 5 stores pulling approximately $100k each that required minimal supervision. Doesn’t matter how rich you are, $500k/yr is always a good chunk of change. I warned my friend that it could turn into a 2nd job that he wouldn’t be able to quit.

I advised calling up the Area Development Managers and asking them to have existing owners talk to them. They’re usually pretty honest about the requirements and efforts required to keep the stores operating successfully.


I kind of got interested in the deal and thought about partnering with my friend on it.

I had my CPA look at the numbers. Since I’ve referred him a ton of business and got him in some good investments, he doesn’t charge for this kind of stuff. He looked at the financials and said 2 things.

  1. Don’t pay more than 2.5 to 3 times the net income.
  2. He’s not making the $100k per store that he’s telling you.

So I passed on the deal. My friend was still interested and he got a potential partner who’s already in the business but was outside the area. But as soon as he found out who the seller was he said that guy’s a crook and bailed. So we both ended up bailing on it.

Doesn’t matter what franchise you’re buying, always show the financials to a competent CPA and try find out the background of the seller.

If you’d like to see listings of various retail businesses for sale, be sure to check out my business & investment store.

Update: As it so happened, after I posted this, a couple from Hawaii contacted me and told me how they had gotten fleeced by a seller of a Cold Stone Creamery. They over-paid for it based on fraudulent numbers and had both bought themselves low-paying jobs (minimum wage for 11 hours a day) that they couldn’t quit.

related post:

What To Look At When Buying A Dry Clearer Business