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Chris Watters, founder of Watters International Realty built his business in the middle of the Great Recession and in a highly competitive market that is home to some of the largest national real estate chains.

His vision and entrepreneurial spirit took him from sleeping on his girlfriend’s (now wife’s) couch in 2010 to becoming the first team owner to EARN $1Million in net income in three years.

Fueled by a desire to improve the success rate of real estate agents through training and consumer-facing programs, Chris has built his business on helping others push past their self-imposed limitations and adding value to the consumer experience.

In 2015, Watters International Realty began opening branches across Texas and partnered with other successful agents and team leaders, assisting them in duplicating their success.

In this podcast episode, Christopher shares how he went from sleeping on his girlfriend’s couch to over $1 million in net income in three years. He shares why you need to build a business foundation around something that has already been proven. We also talk about bootstrapping a business vs. raising capital.

As an entrepreneur, you have to decide if you’re going to be a company for profit or a company for growth. - Christopher Watters Click To Tweet

In This Episode of the Start Fierce Business Podcast:

  • We discuss why you should build a business foundation around something that has already been proven.
  • We talk about bootstrapping a business vs. raising capital.
  • We also discuss why investors care about top-line revenue and not profit.

Christopher’s Favorite Online App:

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Mentioned in this Episode:

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Transcript

Note: Transcripts are created automatically and are not 100% accurate. However, they help our visitors find relevant content using our website’s search feature.

Welcome to the show, Christopher. Thanks for having me. Cindy. awesome to have you on. Tell me about yourself outside of your business. Um, I’ve got a daughter. That’s almost two ever only one lived in Austin, almost my entire life. Austin, Texas, moved away once my freshman year of college and froze my ass off in upstate New York and missed southern hospitality and all that good stuff. And so moved back to Austin Austin graduated college here, and, you know, love to travel and do stuff in the outdoors. And a little bit of fitness junkie, not too hardcore, but you’re pretty avid workout type person, or whatever. And when did you know that you were an entrepreneur, probably around the age of like, 11 or 12, I grew up a single mom and, you know, felt like I was just always coming from a place of limitation from like, a financial perspective. And so kind of like, was out of necessity, you know, decided to start a lawn mowing business to be able to, you know, have more freedom to do what I wanted, and not have to be, you know, stuck to the limitations of things my mom could afford for us to do or not do. So, I think that’s where it kind of got started for me at a young age out of necessity. And then my, my freshman year of college, I had the opportunity to help start a franchise with somebody, I wasn’t a the owner, I just helped him build, you know, start it from kind of ground zero, like by the franchise manual, and, like implement and I learned a ton from doing that. There were some other things that happened, like, you know, through high school, you know, in this in the wintertime, when I couldn’t go yards, I got a job at Circuit City, and I got this amazing discount on audio video equipment, like 60% off, it was unreal. And about that time eBay was really blowing up, you know, he, they really got going like, I don’t know if you remember this in the late 90s. I graduated from high school in 2002. And so I started buying audio and video equipment from Circuit City 60% off and then putting it on eBay and marketing it up 30% and I didn’t really think anything was wrong with that. And then about a year after being at Circuit City, I got called into the room with like, the HR department and I got fired.

And and so I think I, you know, there were just a bunch of aha moments, I think between like a very young age of like 12 and 18 when I was like, you know, I think I’m employable.

Well, tell me about your current business and how you started with that. I paid my way through college with a lawn mowing business. And one of my customers who is also coincidentally one of the biggest pain in the ask customers had a real estate team underneath a brokerage in Austin. He was a great guy, he’s very particular about his yard. So you know, I appreciate that about him. But I as I was going into my senior year of college, I was going on job interviews and same kind of situation, I’d be sitting in the room on these interviews. And, you know, this probably sounds bad, but the people that be interviewing me, I just, there’s a weird feeling, I got like, they should be working for me, you know, like, I shouldn’t be working for them. I don’t know. It was like a weird feeling I got when I went on job interviews. And he told me so I got a degree in finance. And he told me, you know, he went through the same path of corporate america and fight in the finance world and kind of showed me the ups and downs and talked about real estate and you know, the how, you know, you can be your own boss and all this stuff. And so that kind of attracted me to get into the industry. And so in 2006, after graduating college, I got into real estate I worked for his team for for four months. And I definitely wasn’t very coachable or humble at 21 years of age. And I saw a number of houses in the first four months but I just wouldn’t didn’t have enough humility to be coachable at that point. And I basically got out of real estate brokerage and then found my way back in it later in 2009, after I opened up a barn restaurant and that was a massive failure and very humbling experience and then you know, kind of just for the next I guess for the last eight years have just been very focused in the real estate industry and now we’ve got the number one real estate brokerage in Austin Texas implementing like this team model we were voted by the Austin Business Journal of having the number one team we’ve been recognized by Inc. 5000 is one of the fastest growing companies privately held companies every year consecutively for the last several years are brokerages recognizing them all journal as one of the top number one team in Central Texas, one of the top the grid, the top 25 in the United States. And last fall, we got approval through the FTC to be a national franchise. And we’re helping people implement the model systems and processes to scale this team model underneath the real estate brokerage to grow at you know, kind of an exponential rate, what’s been your greatest challenge as an entrepreneur. Um, I think there’s a double edged sword to being an entrepreneur one, you know, if you’re an entrepreneur, you get excited by new shiny objects or ideas to go, you know, go after some new initiative. Or maybe it’s an initiative within your own personal business. Or maybe it’s another business opportunity. And so nothing causes really distracted and I think it requires an immense amount of laser focus in you just kind of knocked down one Domino at a time. And when you get distracted with other business opportunities, and that don’t necessarily line up with what your annual goal is, for example, it can cause it cause things to take longer than it should to get where you want to go, um, aside from not wanting to work for someone else, and aside from your family, what’s your why, you know.

I think I’ve just always been fascinated even beyond entrepreneurship. I think, you know, kind of from a young age, I was really interested in fitness. And I was just always curious, you know, I just said, is very curious mindset of like, what’s humanly possible? Like, how far can you stretch the limits in all things in all areas of life? And so I think that’s, that’s one of my big that is my big wise, pushing the limits to see what’s possible. And what advice do you have for someone that is just getting started in business, find a coach, whatever business you’re going into, there’s somebody else that’s in that business, that’s probably already had an immense amount of success. Go mentor, and work underneath them for a year. And if you’ve got to do it for free, do it No, like that will accelerate the learning curve. And I heard Damon Johnson Shark Tank. This saying, he said pioneers get slaughtered and settlers prosper. So I think a lot entrepreneurs try to get real creative and do a lot of like innovative stuff. And you know, that can like Damon john said, you’ll be a pioneer getting slaughtered. So build a foundation on something that is already proven. And you can, you know, you can, you can do that and find that through working with a coach that has already had a lot of success in whatever area of business you’re going into your whatever niche you’re pursuing. So you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. And then you can, you know, you can improve upon it later on. But build a build a foundation first and do that through coaching.

Yeah, absolutely. Because, and I, I see a lot of people, they’re like, yeah, I have this idea, and nobody’s doing it. And then I watch a lot of shark tank. And I also interact with a lot of entrepreneurs. And I see a lot of people fail. And a lot of the times they fail because no one else is doing what they wanted to do, because there’s not really a business.

Yeah, it’s kind of like a double edged sword. There’s this really good book called zero to one written by Peter teal. And he talks about how you’re going to go into an existing industry, and you want to build like, you know, the next Uber, for example, or, you know, the next Amazon, you need to either be improving on an existing industry by 10 x, or you need to be creating an entirely new category. And so improving on an existing industry by 10 X. That’s very difficult, and, you know, creating an entirely new business and entirely new categories very difficult as well. So, did you have the, these very grandiose plants, for example, take the advice of Peter teal, who, I’m sure you know him. He’s the, you know, the guy that helped Elon Musk, the old PayPal, and he’s a very, you know, very, extremely successful venture capitalist and investor, if you’re going to follow his advice, you know, you need to raise an immense amount of capital because it costs a ton of money far more than I think any entrepreneur can ever imagine. If you’re going to go out and try to create the next Amazon or Uber, you know, some some large enterprise that totally changed the game.

Yeah, absolutely. And this was something that I was thinking about yesterday in Orlando, they’re having like a co working week where they’re going or different co working spaces are hosting events. And so the CO yesterday it was our turn. So the CO working space that I work out of was hosting the event. And there was a tour the director was giving some people from the city and they put it on Facebook, and I shared it on my personal Facebook just because I made kind of like a cameo appearance, but also because I get a lot since I have my startup, I get a lot of people asking me for advice, like, how do I do this, I want you to help me with my startup. And they get a little bit offended when I tell them, I can’t help you. Like, I’m too busy with mine. But you need to connect yourself to an incubator, you need to go to networking events. And a lot of times people are like, man, I just want to build my startup from my house, and then they get offended will when I tell them well, you don’t have a startup, you just have a business that you’re trying to build from your house. And so you don’t really need my startup help. Because when you have a startup, you have to raise capital out there is a lot of money and you have to meet people, you’re gonna do that from your house. And some people don’t realize how much money it takes to get something like that off the ground or how many connections you have to make. Yeah, it’s tough, it’s a grind. I mean, I my real estate brokerage I bootstrapped you know, worked out of my apartment, I’m started off as sleeping on my girlfriend’s couch.

Because I lost every dollar to my name, I basically bootstrapped it, but it was a slow process. I’ve been at it, you know, eight years. And I mean, think about Uber, it’s been around I don’t know how only a couple of years and it’s, you know, it’s a billion dollar company now. So like, if you’re going to do something really big, you need a lot more capital than most people recognize, because the bootstrap way it works great. It’s just a very slow growth path. It’s like you as an entrepreneur, you got to decide do you want to be a company for profit or company for growth? And that sounds, you know, it’s, it sounds like, you know, well, how can you have a business and make profit? And well, I mean, you look at companies like Zillow, which is a real estate portal, the company loses a ton of money, but you know, it’s stocks doing well. And everything goes up in value, because its revenue is growing. And so like, you know, large institutional investors, they just care about top line revenue and how much the company’s growing not they don’t care so much about the net because they know when the company gets to scale economies of scale kick in the company will make more profit in a year than it could have made it if it bootstrapped it in the first 20 years. Yeah, when in my startup accelerator that I was in, we had to do our fight, we had to put financial predictions together and they made us like have zero profit, or even be under for two to three years. And then you were supposed to have high growth. And, you know, at first when I didn’t really know much about startups, I’m like, that’s a good investment. But that’s what investors want to see. They want to give you their money so that you don’t have any profits. But you got to spend all this money so you can 10 times that are way more. Um, if you could have lunch with one business thought leader, who would it be?

Yeah, someone like Peter teal would be cool. Elon Musk would be cool.

Jeff Bezos. That’d be cool to meet him. Tim Cook from Apple. be interesting to meet the new CEO of Uber. Be cool to talk to him. See how it’s going since taken over Uber and what’s your favorite business book, my favorite business book, favorite business book. That’s another one. I’ve got so many books, I like scaling up by Verne. Hornish is really good. I think for a lot of new entrepreneurs or even crap i mean i just read this book recently had a lot of aha was just from like a financial modeling perspective. Profit first is a really good book you know, it’s like every book helps you like you know, may help you it’s like whatever challenging man so I like how to win friends and influence people. It’s a great book for you know, if you’re trying to improve your sales game to build more trust with people scaling up a great firm Hornish that’s a great book for, you know, trying to put all the rights departments in, in in place within your company, and just get really clear about how to create, you know, very clear path using what they call a one page strategic plan. And then drilling down to your tactical operating parties. You know, I think another great book for entrepreneurs is there’s one called the magic of thinking big. And I remember Tim Ferriss, I watched a podcast or something or a tour of Tim’s how Tim Ferriss house and he talked about the book The magic of thinking big, and, you know, he said, a lot of reasons why entrepreneurs, you know, shift into a different business five or six years later, this and specifically the entrepreneurs having success is because they kind of hit the goal, they reached that feeling of, you know, what they set out to do originally, and they got bored. And so I think that’s Yeah, it’s a common problem with entrepreneurs, like serial entrepreneurs, is you get bored really easily. And so, you know, you may go into it with this really big Y and really big goal and you hit it and then you’re like, what’s next? And then what you realize is, you really weren’t thinking as big as you should have been thinking, you know, like, you weren’t thinking Uber or Amazon big. Yeah, that’s really interesting, because I know some people that are like that. So for me, I was more of a job hopper person. I like having my own business. I was a job Hopper, but in my own business, I’m all right. I don’t get bored. But I do know some people, they just like the thrill, I think of building up the business and once it kind of plateaus, they’re just like, Okay, next idea. Well, I mean, it’s just common thing, I think entrepreneurs that’s I think that’s a great book, The magic of thinking big help you realize you that that plateau you think you’re at is actually not a plateau it’s just a stepping stone to get to where you want to go.

I love that. I gotta add that one to my to read list. What’s your favorite internet resource or app that just makes your life easier favorite app on my phone or it could be like online internet thing to doesn’t have to be phone, I like this app called GroupMe, it’s like a team communication tool. I think that’s really cool app.

It’s like a cool way to like Connect team members. I like another app called headspace. Mm hmm. Very good at teaching you how to do meditation, get your head, right.

Those are probably my two, two top ones right now.

Okay. And where can listeners find you online? what’s your website? Where do you hang out on social media? I’m trying to get more disciplined that that actually utilizing social media like Instagram, I think if you pull up my Instagram account, I have six pictures on there.

I mean, you can people can find me on Facebook. I published a book last fall. And it’s just about, you know, basically bootstrapping a real estate team and going from zero to netting a million bucks in three years. And you can if you buy the book, we built a landing page for the book called w IR book calm, okay. And if you buy it on there, you can get a signed copy. Or you can buy her book on Amazon. And it’s called the million dollar real estate team. And it’s just kind of like our journey of the ups and downs, things that worked things that didn’t work. And I think it ties in nicely with that book, I recommended scaling up because it talks about the different growing pains, you have different phases of growth. And so it’s I mean, it’s intended for people like already in real estate. And so anyways, you can check out the book. It’s also on Amazon. They’ll go on Audible, all that good stuff. But yeah, people can send me a DM on Instagram, or LinkedIn or Facebook. I’m, I’ll get it.

Okay. Yeah, I need to be more active on Instagram, too. I post my podcast episodes on there. But that’s about it. Because I don’t, I don’t really think I’m that interesting. So not that I’m not that interesting is just, I don’t do Instagram a whole thing. So yeah, well, I don’t know. There’s a, I don’t know. I see. It’s funny. I was on a I was in an airport going out of town last week or two weekends ago. And there’s this girl My, my wife follows. And she has over 100,000 followers on Instagram and over 200,000 followers on YouTube. And my wife had talked about her and I think, you know, few matter. You wouldn’t think she was that interesting either. But she just documents her her life as a mom raising kids. And so anyways, kind of interesting. Everybody’s got their own unique niche where you’re probably interesting to somebody. Yeah, I mean, I think my startup journey is probably interesting to someone. But there’s also a lot of my startup journey that I can’t share right now. So then it’s just like, Okay, then I’m not gonna hop on here and start talking and talking and code, you know, Yeah, yep. Well, Christopher, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today. Well, thanks for having me on.

Cindy Rodriguez is the host of the Start Fierce Business Podcast. When she’s not interviewing awesome entrepreneurs, she’s working on growing her startup, going to Disney World with her daughter, or reading a book.

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