You Can Grow a Million-Dollar Business (And Still Have a Life)

Wendy Papasan|Published: Jun. 18 2019

If you’re anything like me, you want it all – a successful career, hobbies, vacations, quality time with your family. Too often though, we let family and fun fall by the wayside. We work long hours as we build our business. We go on “vacation,” only to plug away on our laptops by the pool. We run ourselves ragged. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

I went from being a stay-at-home mom making no income to making $1 million in GCI in five years while also having a big life.

papasan family posing on veranda on vacation

Last year, my team’s 14 agents in Austin, Houston, St. Louis, and Minneapolis helped 304 clients, making $2.7 million in GCI, and we raised $156,000 for kids with cancer. I also manage a bunch of income-producing properties. I’m busy, just like you.

But, in addition to building a big business, I spend time with my family, and I fit in fun. We took family trips to Belize, Seattle, Savannah, London, Italy, Alaska, Portland, and Nashville. The year before that, we took a 16-day vacation to South America. It was 200 hours of quality family time, and when I got back, with no guidance from me, our team had 22 houses under contract or sold, and 10 homes listed.

Where to Start

So, how do I do it? It all starts with the right mindset. Make the decision to live a BIG life.

Like a lot of people, I’ll admit I started out thinking small. My first year, I wanted to make $15,000. I worked from 9 till noon, sold 18 homes, and made $85,000. That was twice my salary when I worked for the state of Texas. My second year, I sold 23 homes, then 55, then 89, then 121.

I got there because I started thinking bigger. Right away, my husband, Jay Papasan, who wrote The Millionaire Real Estate Agent with Gary Keller, said we should get help at home. He didn’t want me working 24 hours a day, never seeing our family, and burning out. We hired a weekly housekeeper and a nanny.

Then, I found great people to start building a real estate team. You might be reading this, thinking, “I want to stay small, that’s where I’m comfortable.” I hear you – I felt the same way.

But, I recognized there are tasks I’m not good at and I don’t enjoy. So, I made a “not-to-do” list and fired myself.

I hired an agency right away to do contract to close. I saved money so I could hire an executive assistant to help with building systems; I knew that wasn’t my skill set. I hired an amazing woman to lead my operations department. My production tripled that year, and she ended up starting our St. Louis team. One talented person can do so much for your business. Gary Keller says, “Ask yourself, who’s your new who? And, it can’t be you.” Think about building your business and your quality of life.

wendy papasan and son taking a selfie in Italy

Six habits for a happy life

I’ve boiled my methods down into six habits for creating a happy life.

  • First, surround yourself with successful people … you’ll learn tons from them.
  • Next, focus on net worth and profit – not income.
  • Third, think bigger.
  • Fourth, invest your money in people and systems. There’s plenty you can outsource to save time: hire a lawn care person or pool cleaner, get your dry cleaning and groceries delivered, use Amazon Subscribe & Save for household products. At work, hire a runner, a data-entry person, a graphic designer. Live below your means so you can hire help.
  • Five, say no to say yes. Each yes turns everything else into a no, so be strategic about what you say yes to. Try time blocking. Check email two times a day instead of 10 … Work at work and be present at home. Find something that signals you’re making the transition too. Change your clothes, have a glass of wine.
  • Finally, the sixth habit is to learn about money and finances.

I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy to get where I am today. In fact, it was pretty messy.

Success is messy. It’s uncomfortable. But, if you want success, you’re going to have to live through that.

You’re also going to need patience. I’m the kind of person that wants everything right away. I like to charge forward. But, I’ve changed that mindset too. This is my mantra now: Success is sequential, not simultaneous. Success is falling down and skinning your knee and getting back up again, and then doing it all over again.

As you build your business, remember, we’re on a journey. It’s not just about reaching your goals; it’s who you become along the way. I’m not the same person I was two, five, or eight years ago. If you’re not pushing yourself along the way, you’re not growing.

Ask yourself, who do you need to become to have the life you want?

About Wendy Papasan

Wendy Papasan is co-owner and founder of Papasan Properties Group at Keller Williams, headquartered in Austin, Texas, with expansion teams in Dallas and Houston, as well as Minneapolis and St. Louis, Missouri. During her first nine years in real estate, she sold more than 900 homes, totaling more than $350 million. Wendy is a member of Gary Keller’s Top Mastermind Group and a highly sought-after speaker.  A community activist and philanthropist, Wendy is chairman of the board of KW Kids Can and chair of Heroes for Children, a Texas nonprofit that assists children with cancer.

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