Questions & Answers

1. What do you think separated you from your fellow investor colleagues and friends in terms of your exponential growth and success?

I created an organization; took a decades long point of view, focused on crisp execution/creating value more than “making money” (I wanted to grow prosperous gradually, not get rich quick), I wanted it more than others, was more laser-like in my intensity, lived it and breathed it 24/7. I had a burning desire to get better, be better each and every day, curiosity about all aspects of and next to my business, and a love of learning/growing. I developed the ability to move back and forth between ground level and 50,000 ft. I am working on the ability to let go and to delegate better. 

2. When did you know it was time to invest outside of your local market? 

When I ran out of good opportunities locally…

How did you get comfortable with the idea of actually doing it?

I had to do it or stop growing. I stumbled a bit; there was a learning curve but it all worked out.

3. What is the best thing I can be doing now to position myself to be attractive to acquiring traditional commercial financing from a bank?

Be a good credit risk, know how to prepare good financial statements, have good records, know your business backwards and forwards (that’s why I have so many degrees/licenses), and have good character. 

4. How large does a company have to be before it can be self-sustaining? 

Companies need both financial and intellectual capital. I’d say that a company is self-sustaining in terms of intellectual capital when it is deep enough so that, given normal turnover, there is always enough of the Senior Management Team to keep the lights on and train/bring on board new members.

What is your definition of a self-sustaining company? 

One that can run without the founder.

5. How do you go about setting people’s salaries and incentivizing them? 

I don’t set salaries, the marketplace sets salaries. I endeavor to hire people who love what they do and are internally motivated.

6. Do you run an individual apartment complex like a business within a larger business? 

An apartment community is an investment. The business is the Property Management Company that looks after the community and the Asset Management Company that hires/oversees the Property Management Company and makes buy/sell/refi/renovate decisions. Many owners do not self-manage, they hire 3rd party firms.

7. At what size company do you think I would need a full time bookkeeper? 

As a CPA, I did my own books on Quicken for decades. It’s hard to say. The short answer is when you think your time is better spent elsewhere. But boy, oh boy, did I have a tight handle on my business when I paid every check!

8. Do you still teach classes at UF? 

I teach a Case Study module every July to the Nathan S. Collier Master of Science in Real Estate incoming class.

9. What do you enjoy most about business? 

The independence of being profitably self-employed.

10. What would you say your greatest attribute is in business? 

Desire/Drive. You’ve got to WANT it.

11. What do you believe my present focus should be if my goal is to own at least 1000 units? 

Getting 100 units, profitable.

12. What makes a company great? 

The people.

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier