A global pandemic, struggling economy, and worldwide turmoil for so many reasons. A lot of us struggled to comprehend how much bad a year could bring that we forgot to take a look at all the good, too. For Noah and I, this was definitely the case. In the new light of 2022, we wanted to take a look back at what made 2020 our unforgettable year.
2020 marked ten years of business together (yes, we’ve been in business together longer than we’ve been married). Our son turned 1 in February of that year, and that marked the last time that we were all able to be together as a big family for a long time. Enter COVID-19. At this point, we’re probably all sick of hearing and talking about it. But COVID seriously turned our entrepreneurial world upside down. Noah and I struggled to believe that a pandemic was going to cause businesses to close down and potentially bankrupt, and the initial fear of all the uncertainties was nothing short of awful. I’m sure many of you can somehow relate.
We were very fortunate to be able to continue to build homes throughout it all, with our biggest fear being leaving our customers in limbo with no place to live if we stopped. It was really hard to watch so many other small businesses and people we knew not be able to work. We had three employees that all got employment elsewhere because of the uncertainty of if we’d be able to afford to keep them on.
By June, Noah and I were custom building homes by ourselves, and the phone was ringing. NON. STOP.
We were coordinating with close to ninety different people and vendors, meeting with new customers, designing blueprints, ordering supplies, and managing previous customer home warranties with just the two of us.
And in juggling all of those things, something was bound to drop. Shipping delays were pushing back our target dates, so we had customers moving into homes that we were still trying to finish up. Although these problems were not our fault and completely out of our control, we felt like terrible businesspeople.
By December, Noah went on a much-needed vacation from all the craziness at home, leaving me at the helm of our business with our 1- and 3-year-old toddlers, who are, shockingly, not the most effective coworkers.
With customers calling about delays and my stress level at an all-time high, I may have called Noah and informally fired him from our business. And while he did send me chocolates and flowers to make me feel better, it was the tipping point for us when we knew we might be in over our heads.
We decided that we weren’t going to take on any more custom homes. At the beginning of 2020, we had purchased 35 units. At the end of the year, we utilized dropping interest rates to do some refinancing, realizing that we had made over a million dollars in equity just off of those 35 rental units. We hadn’t made that much in home building, despite the exponentially greater amount of work that went into it. Lesson learned.
The 80/20 rule, put simply, is 80% return on 20% effort. In home building, we realized that we were getting 20% return on 80% effort. In real estate investing, that 80/20 rule was realized. And the 80/20 rule is applicable to almost anything in your life- use it to cull out the things that are taking too much of your energy and transition into using your energy in more beneficial ways.
All in all, 2020 was a mixed bag. By the end of the year, we were mentally, emotionally and physically drained. But the outcomes were good- we earned over a million dollars and learned to listen to our own needs. So, we are grateful for 2020 and the lessons that came with it. It truly was our unforgettable year.