Overcome your doubt – be tenacious! This is what sets a strategic entrepreneur apart from merely a person who completes operational tasks.
Alina was born and immigrated from what used to be the Soviet Union, now Ukraine. A large part of her family perished in World War II defending the country from the Nazi invasion and in the Holocaust; same as many other Soviet citizens. National patriotism remained high for decades after the war. Alina’s grandparents settled in Odessa, Ukraine after the war. They could not imagine a better place to live than Odessa; her city of birth.
The former Soviet Union, however, was a so-called Utopian dream only through government propaganda and oppression, and as anti-Semitism escalated (Alina’s family is Jewish) and as some pro-fascist organizations planned pogroms, the dream turned into a nightmare. The short of it was that it was at that time her family finally realized that it was time to leave Soviet Union. Alina was twenty years old when her family decided to immigrate to the United States to escape growing anti-Semitism in the Ukraine. Alina’s story is really a glowing example of the “Pursuit-of-the-American-Dream” tale.
When Alina arrived in the United States at 20 years of age, Alina knew that she was not entitled to anything except an adventure, and that in order to succeed she had to work hard and learn harder. She pursued a degree in Accounting from Baruch college, while working as a sales person in a busy clothing and shoe store in NYC. She was excited to have a Green Card after arriving in the US, and five years later she was ecstatic to pass the US Citizenship test. Alina is proud to be an American, and she shares a strong work ethic with her husband of 20 years that was passed on to their two children.
Alina loves the United States, and feels that it provides all its citizens the freedom, equal opportunity, and the tools to succeed. Nevertheless, when she looks back to the first few years in the US, she believes that the most difficult, and yet the most rewarding task for her was adapting to a new culture and finding her place in a foreign country.
Alina holds Bachelor’s degree in Accounting as well as MBA in Finance and Management. She’s a former tax accountant with the big Four experience. She later switched to the technology industry as a liaison between the business and technology professionals.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
One of my main concerns for many years about my family’s finances has been the over-concentration in Wall Street investments. I have seen a number of significant stock market crashes in my lifetime. Therefore, I always wanted to find a way to preserve wealth while saving on taxes.
Real estate has been on my mind for years. I finally decided to give it a try and conducted an extensive research which led me to find the world of syndications. I started out as an equity partner in real estate deals, and quickly realized just how opportunity-laden and conservative was this strategy. Not only did it allow me to preserve wealth, but it also offered the tax benefits to investors.
Out of this idea, a business was born. I decided to start my own boutique company, whose mission is to help a select group of investors to preserve their wealth and to build passive income while utilizing tax-saving strategies. So today, I concentrate on helping busy professionals and business owners that are looking to manage their wealth but don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to do it by offering them recession-proof passive real estate investing strategies as well as helping them to invest in asset classes that are counter-cyclical to the economy.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I balance my family’s activities, with my nine-to-five job (which is actually much more time consuming than eight hours per day), and my real estate investment business. Needless to say, there are fewer hours in the day than what I would like to accomplish.
Multitasking does not work. What does wonders for me is to create a routine that includes all of my normal daily activities. Next, I allocate all business tasks into smaller chunks, so that I can complete them either before or after my 9-to-5 job. I also allot time blocks to these steps so that I can eliminate distractions and focus on and complete a specific task within that time block. Lastly, I consistently measure what steps I take each and every day to determine what could be made even more efficient.
These methods hugely helped me to get more accomplished within the same amount of time.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Just to state the obvious, in order to make ideas into revenue-producing business activities, I need to have these ideas first. For me, ideas come from a multitude of places; my business network, podcasts, business articles, and so on. Basically, throughout the day I am thinking of potential business ideas, and I do not limit how big or small they “feel,” all that matters is that they could make my clients (or me) happier, richer or more efficient.
Be careful, though, because ideas are like dreams; if you don’t write them down immediately, they will quickly dissolve into the haze of time. To help me keep track of my ideas, I keep a daily idea list on my iPhone. Specifically, I create a daily Calendar event and I add ideas to its notes section as they come to me. This Calendar event is set to remind me every evening to transcribe my ideas into a running list with additional details.
The best payoff will be from a transformational idea. As John Maynard Keynes, an early 20th-century British economist, said, “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” There are a few steps that you will want to do research on to unpack it; in fact, this is the critical step. Try to discover who else may have similar models in operation already, and even if your big idea is comparable to an existing one, then your job will be to figure out how to make it bigger, faster, better!
What’s one trend that excites you?
Millennials coin the term “FIRE (financial independence retire early) movement”. While, I’m not a millennial, I likewise, have a goal in mind for such independence to live life on my terms. Although I grew up with a traditional understanding of retirement, FIRE doesn’t actually mean quitting your job. My goal is to focus less on retiring early; instead my goal is to be financially independent.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
As I said before, entrepreneurs need more time than there are hours in a day. So how do I overcome this limitation? One word – tenacity. Tenacity is the mark of the strategic entrepreneur, which is so much more than not giving up on an objective. Instead, it’s about overcoming barriers or doubt, and much more importantly, using willpower to stick it out despite all odds. Of course, there is a difference between being tenacious and stubborn; I use the information and data from my previous experience to further improve my business. So when I am confident that an approach, an investment, or partnership will result in a positive outcome based on my research and vetting of that approach, investment, or partnership to succeed, I then stay the course.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would take the young Alina by the shoulders and shake some sense into her to start investing in real estate as early as possible. The few simple reasons to invest young in real estate is that firstly, it allows to hold on to investment the long term so that it appreciates, secondly, younger people generally have more time to give the attention that the real estate investment needs, and lastly, they have more flexible budgets.
To expand on the three points above, usually real estate investors will see a profit over the long term. Today’s young people prefer to have children later in life, and that equates to more time in their daily schedule. That time can be put to very good use to manage their real estate investments. To continue that line of thought, young adults can also do wonders with their budgets since expenses that come later in life such as supporting a family, kids’ extracurricular activities, and tuition, do not play into their budget.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Time machines exist and some people are actually using them.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I wrote about the need of a routine earlier. I swear by my own variation of “Miracle Morning” routine, which was authored by Hal Elrod, and I recommend everyone do the same. There are six parts to this routine: silence, affirmations, visualization, scribing, reading, and exercise, and it will most certainly help improve you both, mentally and physically. You can spend very little time, and the benefits are terrific.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I hold a great amount of value in staying organized, and this helped my business to be more productive. Let’s start with the flip side; simply put, disorganization costs time and money. And for any business, small such as my company, or large, this creates more and more overhead resulting in negative impact on both, productivity and the company’s bottom line. On the other hand, organization allows me to focus on the making my company profits. Yet again, I have to mention that a routine is key to running a business, and as part of my daily routine I create a list of action items. Whatever item is not fully completed by the end of the day is carried over. This allows me to keep track on open items to be completed in the future and not overburden myself by trying to remember all of the moving parts to running a business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The best answer to this question would be to expand on my response about what I would tell my younger self. It quickly occurred to me when I finally started my entrepreneurial journey that I kicked off my new career way later than I should have. Looking back, I believe that I can attribute this failure to launch my business sooner due to my lack of belief in my abilities. Now I love what I do, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
When I attempted to promote my company, I was floored by the costs of marketing, yet marketing is a critical necessity in today’s business strategy. Although, marketing is nothing new, I think there is terrific potential for internet marketers; it is a phenomenal opportunity that can offer a ton of benefits to someone who’s willing to stick it out. If you are handy with teaching yourself new tools and technologies, you should explore chatbot tools that can build bots in a matter of minutes without having any programming skills. Bots are tremendously valuable to companies because they are so versatile; they can help drive public commitment, such as to fight pollution, or communicate health information and promote healthy living or offer counseling.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought tickets for my mom and me to a concert, and we went to see it recently. First of all, it was a quality time with my mother which we don’t do often, and second, it was a great concert. I am married with two kids, and my mom is still my best friend. She is the person that I share most of my thoughts. My mom is there when I need reassurance, a confidence boost, or just when I need her.
I would encourage the readers of this article to remember everything that their moms and dads did and still do for them; they are the ones that shared most remembered memories. Next time there is a concert, invite your mom and dad or someone who raised you to come along; most likely you will have a blast!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I highly recommend Pipedrive, a Customer Relationship Management system, or just CRM. Pipedrive is business software that helps me optimize communications with my customers. But it’s not just an address book. It actually helps me build effective relationships and provide great customer experience from “How can I help you?” to “Congratulations on the great deal!” When I first started my company, I tracked my clients by spreadsheets and email, but now I couldn’t imagine doing that, and Pipedrive allowed me more opportunity to improve how I run my business.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’ve read many great books over the years, but for people that really want to take charge of their financial future, my recommendation is, “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George Samuel Clason. If you can believe it, “The richest man in Babylon” dates back to 1926 so it’s an oldie, but a goody. Incredibly, this book is still very relevant today, and in my opinion, will continue to be the go-to book for teaching the fundamentals of financial literacy.
What is your favorite quote?
“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” By Warren Buffett.
• Overcome your doubt – be tenacious! This is what sets a strategic entrepreneur apart from merely a person who completes operational tasks.
• Make sure you jot down and keep track of an idea wherever it hits you. If you don’t, you will forget what that idea was in the first place.
• Be organized because this helps you be more productive, and because the opposite hurts your chances of success; simply put, disorganization costs time and money.
• Remember where you came from, and thank your parents by spending time with them.
• Read “The richest man in Babylon” by George Samuel Clason to refresh your understanding of the fundamentals of financial literacy.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.