Tanja Kraus has worn many hats over the years, from equestrian expert to real estate guru and now business coach. This Urunga entrepreneur shares her business philosophy and her new book about real estate investing.
Tell us about some of the businesses you’ve owned and operated.
I’ve been fairly ‘entrepreneurial’ from a young age. When I was about 13, I started bagging up horse manure and selling it to gardeners for $2 a bag! It was very labour intensive, but did teach me the value of hard work being relative to income earned.
I left home soon after and bummed around for a while. Once I started working 5 days per week for someone else, I loved the work, but wanted to do my own thing. So I opened my own boutique saddlery, my mum worked for free running the place, and we spent weekends trekking around the countryside looking for stock.
After about 2 years, we were still not turning a profit, and my mum was moving interstate. I had to make the decision to either leave my job and continue with the saddlery, or shut up shop. I decided to shut the doors – which in retrospect was the right decision, as 12 months later I bought my first house, then my first investment property.
Within 2 years my boss wanted to reward my loyalty to him (I had been there for 8 years) and gave me first option to purchase the real estate agency. I loved real estate and it was hard to get the finance, but I got it through and spent 3 years as Principal and licensee of the office. Then I decided to sell and move to the Coffs Coast. Now I invest in property and have my own business here.
> How did you first get into real estate?
I left home just before I turned 15. I was ‘living the dream’ on Centrelink benefits and doing whatever I wanted. I enrolled in a computer course for 3 weeks, and the teacher must have seen some potential – she lined up an interview for me at a real estate office, and I ended up getting a traineeship.
I worked my way up through every qualification I could, until I finally became a licensed real estate agent – one of the youngest in Australia at the time. I had a great boss who took me under his wing and treated me like one of his kids; he really instilled in me a belief that I could do anything I put my mind to.
> What did you love about this industry?
Real estate fascinates me. It seems so simple, and it can be, but you have to make good choices and ride the tough times through. When I first started on the Gold Coast, I couldn’t believe that 2 bedroom units were selling for $59,000 – or should I say, not selling. The owners had bought them for $110,000 and couldn’t even sell them at nearly ½ price.
Back then, my whole attitude was, “Are you people crazy … $59,000 for a unit on the coast is a bargain!” I just knew in my gut that this was good buying, but even the selling agents in the office at the time were negative about it.
> You’ve released a book, ‘Maximum Returns, Minimum Concerns A Guide to Successful Property Investment’. How did this come about?
During my years in real estate, each month I personally wrote a ‘landlord newsletter’ for our clients. The feedback I got was phenomenal – each time we did a survey, the main comments were “love the newsletter – keep them coming!”. I realised that I wrote about the ‘stuff’ that made a difference to landlords.
Real Estate is fairly straightforward; you just have to make the right choices, and to make the right choices you need to have the right information. I have a bookshelf full of books on investing, but none of them answer the really nitty gritty questions – and it’s the nitty gritty that can make or break you financially, so Maximum Returns was born.
> Who do you think will benefit from reading your book?
People wanting to get ahead and who are willing to create a great life for themselves. Whether you are looking to get into property or you have been an investor for many years, this book will give you great advice on how to get more from your investments.
I even encourage people to give it to their kids to read – just so they have an understanding of how money can be used in a positive way. I have also had a lot of people buy it for their teenage children to give them a great start in understanding their money and what they can do with it.
> You’re now a business coach on the Coffs Coast. What inspired this change of direction?
I started Chilli Consulting so I could help people take their business to the next level. If you are going to do something, you may as well be the best at it – and to do that you need a coach, a mentor or just someone who is going to keep you on the straight and narrow with your goals. That’s what I’m here for.
> What are some of your tips for people looking to invest in business and / or property on the Coffs Coast?
Coffs really reminds me of how the Gold Coast was 15 years ago. We have everything here – from the glorious beaches, to the hinterland and the rainforest. It is one of the fastest growing areas in Australia – and as long as you make the right choices, I don’t think you can lose money here. I’m investing in the area, and I recommend it to people all the time. I think that it is only a matter of time before prices begin to increase.
> Where can people get a copy of your book?
The book is available in bookstores. If it is not on the shelf, they can order it for you. Otherwise, it is available on my website www.chilliconsulting.com.au
Just head to the services page.
> Thank you Tanja.