The American Dream is alive and well as far as Eduard Shapshovich is concerned. A Russian immigrant, Shapshovich arrived in America in the early 1990s with very little money and no English. But those were minor problems for the resourceful Shapshovich who settled in St. Louis, Missouri. He woke up every morning, put his shoes on, and got to work. Through the years, he managed a pizza shop, sold used cars, and also worked as a delivery man. Nothing too spectacular, as he admits, but it did give him great experience working with people, getting to know the local area of his new home, and learn and educate himself so one day he could attain his dream of self-sufficiency. With a business partner and close friend, Shapshovich now works in real estate development, buying homes, rehabbing them and selling them or renting them out. He has a great working relationship with his partner, his tenants love him, his competitors are sometimes jealous of his ability to keep stable renters, and he’s super happy to be where he is right now. It’s the culmination of a lifelong dream that some tried to talk him out of trying, but Shapshovich is not anywhere close to being done following his dreams.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
It’s been my dream to be in business and working for myself. Every different job I had in the past solidified that dream for me. I enjoy being able to choose the people who I want to work with. It just really motivates me to work with people that are also independent and as hardworking as I am.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts early in the morning. I go to the job site and talk to the guys who are working there. I make sure they have everything they need so they can keep working. If they need anything, I will run out and get it. Just today, they said they were running out of caulk to put in the windows and they were missing lights and faucets for the kitchen, so I went to Home Depot and bought those items and returned to help to install them.
I am also regularly looking into new properties to invest in. I got a call this morning from a real estate agent who sent me photos of a property I’m considering. It’s a complete rehab. It was flooded. The home has been professionally cleaned since the flood, but I haven’t had a chance to talk to the partner yet on whether we will move forward with it. I’ll share the price with him, he’ll give me the green light to look into it further, and then I’ll go out there and calculate how much work it might need to get it in shape. We’ll make a budget to see if it’s worth the investment. If it’s not, we pass and wait for the next opportunity.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’m full of ideas. I’m a Pisces, and they say that we’re all dreamers. I’ve been dreaming about doing this since I was working at the pizza place. I remember hanging out with the pizza makers, and telling them that one day I was going to own an apartment complex, and they’d look at me and laugh. But my dreams have come to life. Things are coming along for me.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Waking up. When you wake up, it’s like God gave you another day to live! But really, I don’t look at trends. The only thing that affects my business is me. It depends on where I want to take it. If you think positive things, positive things will happen. If you think negatively, the same will happen.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Being a workaholic, I won’t stop until the job is done. If I know there is something in front of me, and more coming tomorrow after that, I don’t leave what is in front of me for tomorrow or the next day. I try to finish it as soon as I can.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I should have started working for myself 20 years earlier. Like I tell everybody, knowledge is power. The way to do that is by being outgoing, reading books and acquiring knowledge. It’s a lot easier these days to get the knowledge than it was when I was younger 20 to 30 years ago, we didn’t really have cell phones or the internet. Now everything you need is at your fingertips. I only wish I had started even sooner.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
My dreams. I was discouraged from jumping into this. But I am fearless. I believe in myself so much. I keep going and don’t stop. A lot of people don’t have that kind of drive. They will say to themselves, “It’s 5 o’clock, now I’m off. That’s good enough.” I’m not like that. My dreams push me harder.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Reading testimonies from other entrepreneurs, particularly those involved in real estate, is so motivating to me. I watch their YouTube videos, and they talk about themselves and how they became who they are. I don’t follow exactly what they say, but I listen to it and absorb it. I listen to a bunch of different voices and then make my own decisions. One of the greatest voices so far that I’ve learned from is Grant Cardone. He inspires me to do more. The sky is the limit.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Having a solid friendship and working relationship with my partner has helped us to grow this business. We get along as friends and business partners. We know we are all in this together and we rely on each other’s strengths.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I am from Russia, and I think a little bit of lack of education has held me back. My language when I arrived in America was Russian, and as soon as I came to this country, I had to get busy working. So, I worked, worked, worked. I didn’t have time to get a regular education as another American would have. We had no money when we came, and we had to work. But this was a long time ago. Now I’m in a better place. I took it upon myself to educate myself with knowledge. The more you know, the more you can make things happen for yourself.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I like the idea of an all-inclusive Airbnb type experience for apartment and home rentals where people can arrive with just their clothing and have all their needs taken care of.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I have a beautiful daughter whose birthday is coming up. I spoil her and buy her whatever she wants. I’ll tell her, “Let’s go shopping,” and she can pick out what she wants. It makes me happier inside than spending on myself. I am always happy when she is happy.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use Google Sheets. It’s a pretty cool piece of free software that helps me keep track of my rental revenues and expenses.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend How to Sell Anything to Anybody by Joe Girard. He is the “world’s greatest salesman,” and sold the most cars of anyone.
What is your favorite quote?
“If there is something you want, you’d better get it. Otherwise, you’re going to bite your elbow.” You can’t bite your elbow.” It’s an old Russian saying, like something is so close but so far away.
• Don’t stop until you get the job done. Don’t put it off until tomorrow.
• Dreams can come true if you work hard.
• Stay positive, honest, and work hard.
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.