October 2, 2023

Steve Trang: Wholesaling, Navigating Business Divorce, and Hitting Your Freedom Number | Motivated Leads

Steve Trang is a serial entrepreneur. “I have shiny object syndrome,” he says. 

Since breaking into the REI scene in 2006, Steve’s worn a lot of hats. He’s been in nearly every facet of investing before landing in wholesaling as his most recent – and most successful – venture in the Phoenix market. He’s also a coach, teacher, and mentor.

In our conversation with Steve, we cover the lifespan of his real estate investing experience and how he’s navigated business divorces, how he’s leaned out his team to be more efficient, and how his work with Motivated Leads has impacted his business.

The Rich Dad, Poor Dad effect

“I got into real estate in 2006, sometime after reading Rich Dad, Poor dad, like everybody else reading the book,” Steve recalls. 

At the time, he was working in engineering and wanted to begin acquiring assets. In 2007, he met a broker as he was buying rental properties “and I got totally distracted,” Steve admits.

“Instead of buying rental properties, I quit my 9-5, got my real estate license (because I thought that would help me with all that active income) so I could buy more rental properties. That ended up being a massive distraction.”

From 2007-2013, Steve was focused on the realtor side of the business before he began buying properties again – this time to buy and wholetail.

“Wholetailing wasn't really a commonly known term then. I was wholetaling at that time until we ran out of money. At that point, we had to start wholesaling.”

Until recently, Steve’s wholesaling gig was purely a side hustle. In 2018, they finally got Podio (CRM) and spent real money to get this business off the ground. 

“When I say real money it’s because, up until that point, I was spending $3,000 a month on PPC and it worked, right? I was doing deals. I didn't need to do a lot. But once 2020 came, you really had to be good at your ROI, your cost per click, cost per conversion, cost per contract, days on market, cash conversion cycle – all of these other things were really much more critical once everyone got in wholesaling.”

The side hustle becomes the full-time hustle

Once Steve met his business partner – an existing wholesaler with a struggling business – the side hustle became the full-time hustle.

“I said, ‘How about we just take your hustle and combine it with my business acumen and we'll do a business partnership together?’ We ran it together for four years, and it was good.”

Steve imparted his own business knowledge and learnings acquired from Traction and Sharper with Gary Harper and other principles to build that wholesale company, which helped him really nail down his target audience and begin to fund the business.

Over the course of those four years, Steve learned a lot of hard lessons in team management and how to overcome distracting business practices.

Lessons learned: Steve’s best advice to wholesalers and other REI pros

In building this wholesaling business alongside his partner, Steve learned a few lessons and imparts that wisdom for anyone in the real estate business:

Salespeople can’t be managed

“I was a minority owner in a brokerage from 2010–2013. I walked away from that because I was like, ‘Forget these salespeople. They're terrible.’ I started my own brokerage in 2013, and then I got more salespeople. I don't know exactly when I threw my hands up in the air and said ‘These people are unmanageable,’ but there were many points of my career where I said forget about it,” Steve says. 

He continues - “Last year I got a chance to hook up with Ren Bartlett down in Alabama, and that guy ran a very impressive wholesaling company where they were doing 100+ wholesale deals a month managing 50+ salespeople.”

Through that experience, Steve learned how to effectively manage salespeople: Hire high-caliber salespeople and show them how to succeed versus hiring a lot of low-caliber salespeople and watching them do whatever they want.

“High-caliber salespeople are very strong willed,” Steve says. “They don't believe rules apply to them, right? Which I understand because I'm the same way. But, if you could plug into their purpose and their why and understand what makes them tick, then you can get your salespeople to work as hard as you do.”

Stay in alignment to your goal

In reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Steve admits he was most attracted to that freedom number: How much money do you need to make passively so that you'll never have to work again? That was the allure and what convinced Steve to quit his job and start buying assets. 

“But then we get totally distracted and we chase more deals, bigger companies, scaling every lead source, spending all this money, which doesn't actually get us closer to our freedom number,” Steve says. “I recently partnered up with the author of Rigging the Game and we talked about the solvable problem. Now, I'm clear on my solvable problem, so how can I run a business that's in alignment with that?”

For Steve, this means running a leaner operation and, ultimately, having to part ways with his business partner – a situation he was able to navigate with confidence.

Navigating a business divorce and rebuilding the business

“I no longer have a partner,” Steve says. 

In the midst of last year’s economic downturn, Steve got a business divorce. “It sucked at the time, but it was the best thing for me.” He’s built a team around him that is helping him move closer toward his goal.

Luckily, the divorce plan was baked into the business plan before they even started.

“We got divorced on paper before we even started,” Steve says, “so we already knew if things don't go the way we want them to go, we just part ways and it's clean cut. It was a really clean situation. I bought him out at previously agreed upon terms.”

The challenges came later as he began trying to fill the gaps left in the business by his partner.

“When I got back into it, what I thought was happening and what was actually happening were different. Because I'm an educator, I felt like I was grossly violating integrity. The hardest part was for me to get back in there and seeing how things actually were versus what we teach. I had never, ever struggled with impostor syndrome until last year, because what I was teaching and what my business was actually doing were not in alignment. I was mortified.”

Though not perfect, Steve’s moving his business back closer to his methodology and is implementing his business philosophies a bit at a time in order to get his business back on the rails and, eventually, scale bigger.

Where Motivated Leads helps 

In rebuilding the wholesaling business, Steve has reassessed their marketing stack to introduce some new partners and keep up with old habits that continue to work. Motivated Leads is one of the partnerships Steve has maintained because he can control the quality.

“We were doing PPC but, after Motivated Leads, PPC no longer made sense,” Steve says. “I built my entire career on PPC, but once we saw that, with Motivated Leads, it took our risk on our leads and our lead costs way down, it was a no-brainer.” 

As Steve has attempted to reframe his business model post-business divorce, Motivated Leads had helped him hit his targets.

“We're looking at minimum profit targets, right? We're not aiming for revenue targets. With Motivated Leads, I get to work only the leads that are good and refund the leads that are no good. It's a pretty good situation for our operations.”

Motivated Leads for wholesalers and other REI professionals

“Bryan Driscoll – prior to meeting him face-to-face at Collective Genius – had reached out to me by email, and the guy writes really good emails so he caught my attention. I jumped on, did a podcast with him, and the guy is incredible,” Steve says. “Total go-giver and a wealth of knowledge. So when he said, ‘Hey, let's do Motivated Leads together, a trustworthy guy knows what he's talking about. He has a good heart. Why would we not work together?”

If you’re looking for trustworthy partners to help you bring in higher quality leads, take it from Steve and other satisfied Motivated Leads clients. 

Click here to learn more about how Motivated Leads delivers better results and higher conversions.