In 2003, 24-year-old Marnie Oursler bought her first home, in Bethany Beach, Delaware. The $240,000 residence cost Oursler $18,000 (all of her savings since college) and required a lot of work. She tells Business Insider that it was “in a great location, but it was a dump.” Using skills she had learned from her father, a builder, she got to work fixing up the house on her own. She ripped up the carpet, held painting parties with friends, and built a driveway with her bare hands. After nine months of painstaking yet enjoyable work, Oursler sold the property for $350,000.
Not only did Oursler increase the value of her home by 46% in less than a year, but she also had an interest in, and an aptitude for, real estate. So she kept going, and soon people started to notice her talent and wanted her to build houses for them. Against others’ advice, Oursler quit her job in 2007 and started Marnie Homes right before the Great Recession. During her first year, she made $450,000. She is expected to earn nearly $7 million this year.
Oursler doesn’t have a typical workday, and that’s part of why she loves her job. “I’m usually in the office half of the day and on the site half of the day,” she says. “I do a lot of calls and meetings with clients; I still do all the budgets and estimates. I work with my treasurer dedicated to managing the budget for each house, a coordinator in charge of monitoring all the selections, and a project manager who’s in the field 95% of the time. I also do a lot of design work. That’s why I love it—there could be days where I never get into the office and days where I can’t get out. It’s fun. Every day is different.”
So what can we learn from Oursler? When you find a need—for Oursler it was a home—and you marry that with a passion—for Oursler that was real estate and design—you create an opportunity for success. And if you love what you do, you’re really not “working” a day in your life.
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