Karim Kerachni - Growing A Business Living 12 Time Zones Away


Karim Kerachni has been all over the world. He was in Canada with Algerian parents, grew up in France, and is currently spending a year in Malaysia. Karim is passionate about being an entrepreneur, launching and growing businesses over being just a "business owner". He started a residential and commercial cleaning company called Steamates in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Getting that company up and running afforded him the time to focus on his next journey, doing franchise development in Massachusetts for, the largest private home sale network in North America. Karim shares about his story, how he's able to be successful while being a full 12 time zones away, and how he plans to grow in the future.

In this episode hosted by Mike Swenson, we discussed:

  • Karim growing up in multiple continents and starting his first business in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • How franchisees can turn your business into a passive income stream, allowing you to work on it remotely or pursue other ventures.
  • How can this franchise opportunity effectively target and engage real estate professionals like agents and investors.
  • How does the ongoing support and services provided by the franchisor contribute to the value of the franchise model.
  • How does the economy of scale benefit both the franchisor and franchisees by significantly reducing costs and allowing for a low-overhead business model.
  • How to build a business while travelling, with a focus on finding the right mindset and knowledge.
  • How you've managed to balance work and personal life, particularly when operating your business remotely.
  • The approach to work-life balance as an entrepreneur, prioritizing happiness and contentment over success.
  • How did Karim effectively manage the significant time difference between his current location in Malaysia and his business operations in the United States.


00:00 - Intro to Karim's Career
01:32 - How Karim growing up in multiple continents and starting his first business.
06:03 - Franchising into passive income stream.
09:18 - Real estate professionals for francise opportunity.
13:10 - Enhancing the value of the franchise model
15:33 - The economies of scale offered by a franchise.
16:56 - Transition from working remotely to taking his business on the road.
20:03 - Work-life balance as an entrepreneur.
22:00 - How to handles time differences.
26:16 - How to Find Karim.










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Read the full transcript here:

Mike Swenson
Welcome to The Real freedom show where we inspire you to pursue your passion to gain time and financial freedom through opportunities in real estate. I'm your host, Mike Swenson, let's get some real freedom together.

Mike Swenson
Welcome everybody to another episode of Real freedom, where we are talking about building time and financial freedom through different opportunities in real estate. And so in the past, we've talked a little bit with people that have had franchises done franchises. And so we're going to talk about that a little bit today. And then also to hear our guest cream crostinis story, and he's going to talk about his past journey sales, he's owned businesses as an entrepreneur. And then the cool thing about you as well, that I know a lot of our audience would love to hear as you're a world traveller. And so your background I know born in Canada, I grew up in France, parents are Algerian. And now currently, you're in Malaysia for a year. And so you've been all over the place. And so to be able to build businesses and be location independent is an amazing thing. So we're just excited to hear your story. So welcome to the show, man.

Karim Kerachni
I'm excited to be here. Thank you, Mike. It's a pleasure to be here. And that's always gonna be a great conversation, because even of record, we already started to have a really good conversation.

Mike Swenson
Yes, why don't you just go ahead and start kind of share a little bit about your background. And I know, listeners are excited to hear kind of how that location freedom happens while still being able to run and grow businesses at the same time.

Karim Kerachni
So as you mentioned, yeah, even my growing up, I grew up in multiple continents, and not just in multiple countries. And so I guess that's something you know, that's, that's stuck with me. And so, as I started my professional journey, and studied in Canada, actually a little bit in France than in Canada, in sales, mostly, you know, started to grow that, that scale, that led me pretty naturally to entrepreneurship. So, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for those who are familiar, that's where I started my first business and it's still growing to this day, that was five years ago. It's a cleaning company named stalemates, we actually have multiple locations, we're putting opening another location in Toronto soon. So it's a business that is that is growing in the cleaning industry. And, and so using, you know, this background in sales and management and entrepreneurship, I figured, I mean, I realised you know, about myself, that I was a lot more an entrepreneur than a business owner, meaning once the business is running, and you know, pretty smooth, yes, there are ways to grow it, but what excited me the most was the challenge of starting in your new venture from scratch, finding an opportunity and market for it and, and even, you know, the the initial and ongoing sales aspects, you know, whether it is marketing, whether it is networking, direct sales, and so on. That's really what, what I found fun. So, when the newest opportunity came, you know, one of new opportunities already came came on the on the table. That was in late 2020, early 2021, I decided to jump into it. And in there were multiple layers of challenges that I enjoyed from, from, you know, bringing a model which I'm going to explain in a minute, but a new model in a new market, but also finding some investors too, and fundraise some capital to get started. And so that venture is property guys that come inside. It's a business that has been growing in Canada for over 25 years very successfully from coast to coast. And they basically offers an alternative solution to the traditional real estate model which is a model that hasn't changed in over 100 years and doesn't make as much sense you know, nowadays for for a lot of people you know, the fact that you have to spend a lot of money in, in commission as well as a lawyer photographer, a stager appraiser, you know, all the services that you need to sell your own property. As you probably know, Mike, a lot of people wants to either sell on their own or find a way where they don't have to spend 20 3040 5060 grand in the process. And so that's what property guys came to offer. It's basically a one one stop shop for everything real estate, where you get all the service you need, included in a package for a one time flat fee, typically in the range of four or five, six grand instead of 40 5060. And nothing else to be able to sell your property so when I discovered the the property guys model and their brand and and you know their raving fans and so on. I was I was sold right away, I wanted to get involved. And so how I'm involved with that is to bring this model to Massachusetts, so a new market. In the US we've been expanding in some states in the US, Texas, Florida, and Massachusetts it right now leading the way as well as Connecticut actually. And so my job really is to attract and select the best fit for each franchise territories that we have available and then to offer some ongoing support for them to be successful. I've been doing that now for about a year. And we have the first few franchisees who are going to get started very, very soon in the next few weeks. So that's super exciting that it's a it's so it's taking off and thinking of faster and faster now as we go,

Mike Swenson
Well, it was interesting that you mentioned about being an entrepreneur over a business owner, because we had talked a little bit offline how I have a background, we launched a franchise inside of real estate. And so I've been exposed to a lot of these franchise conferences. And so learning about people that are franchisees, learning about people that are on your end, and franchise sales, they like the ability to go build, conquer something, and then probably move on to something else too. And so that's kind of a cool thing is recognising if you do own a business, but there's a difference between climbing up that mountain going through that hard stuff, launching something new and then you can go and do that again. Versus Okay, now I've got systems in place, and I'm just operating a business and so it is a distinct difference. And some people can handle both but so I'm just really liked that climb a mountain feel. And then I go move on, and I go climb a different mountain in the same industry or the same type of SEC, or in a completely different industry.

Karim Kerachni
Yeah, me too. I'm the exact same way. But as you said, very rightly so in in franchise, it's the other type of people that we're looking for those who don't necessarily want to climb that mountain figure things out, potentially fail because, you know, most businesses, most startups fail in the in the first two to three years, when you when you acquire a franchise, yes, there is an initial cost, which is relatively speaking, really not that high with with property guys, but most franchise you have to buy in, but when you buy in, as you said is the brand is the the brand recognition, you know, a client that are based in some systems and processes that you don't have to figure out. So the risk of failing is dropped drastically. And so you start with this, you know, with multiple miles ahead of someone who's starting their own, their own brand and their own their own business. And it allows you also to, to grow a lot faster and to take over, you know, a larger piece of the market, maybe expand to different to more territories, most of our franchisees actually get a second and a third territory, because you know, there is a limited number of of them. And so they want to take over a bigger piece of the pie. As they get successful, a lot faster, most franchisee actually get are profitable within within six to 12 months, which is you know, which is crazy, it's unheard of, compared to to the traditional, you know, business industry. And so therefore they can they can grow their business and expand very, very quickly. And often. Sorry to link with, you know, travelling or having other ventures or other things in hand, they often also are able to turn it into somewhat of a passive income, where they don't have to be working in the business, but they can work on it remotely or you know, or physically. And I know a lot of franchisee who after you know acquiring their first, second and third territory, they end up doing some real estate investing or even you know, moving on to other things while while their business is is running. That's an option that is definitely available. Compared to you know, getting a McDonald's, I don't think as a McDonald's owner, you it is easy to get, you know, off the day to day,

Mike Swenson
I think it's really important for people to understand thinking, why would I want to invest in a franchise? Well, you're really increasing your likelihood to have success in an industry because you're borrowing on in your case, 2025 years of experience running a successful business. And it might be Hey, I've got this idea I wanted to do something like this or it's really just plug and play like my goals, my time that I have available, the money that I have available just happens to be a fit for an opportunity like this or a different opportunity. So oh, it happens to be in real estate great. So some people absolutely don't have to have real estate experience to be in a real estate franchise. Some people may like that connection, but you really don't have to. And I know in the franchise world for somebody like you, you're looking to find somebody that's a great fit a great match, that's really going to be excited about this opportunity enhance it because if it's not a fit, then it's just like a job right? If you're in a job that isn't a fit with your skills and abilities and passions, you're not going to enjoy doing it and so you're trying to find that person that enjoys those same things and it fits their interests, their time available, obviously their money and their financial goals and what they want to do

Karim Kerachni
100% And to add to that even aspiring, you know, real estate professionals so we mentioned obviously Yeah, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, you know, real estate investors all kinds of real estate professionals are excellent fit for for this model, you know, it adds an extra an extra hat and extra source of income for an extra source of leads and clients which they can you know, cross our if your mortgage mortgage broker I'm taking that example specifically because the newer newest franchisee that we're getting, he's, he has been a very successful mortgage broker for 20 or 25 years and so he's adding actually to franchise right off the bat to his portfolio in order to you know, cross those clients from from one side to the other and really maximise profit and it's Um, it's definitely something, something that I actually specifically try to approach and target Are those real estate professionals that can have this devil hat. But someone with no real estate experience, who has always, you know, loved in the real estate industry and wanting to get to get into it don't necessarily want to get their licence, it's a very crowded industry. In Massachusetts, we have 27,000 plus agents that are all, you know, pretty much offering the same the same value proposition, whether you use, you know, Mike or Mary, you can sell or buy your house the same way and for pretty much the same commission. So being able to get into the real estate industry without having to get your real estate licence and, and offering something different, where you stand out from the crowd, and where you get a whole bunch of organic leads and clients because you're the only one in your territory. In addition to the fact that you actually own your own business, you're not just quote unquote, a contractor going from one condition to another. So all those those points are high value in the eyes of aspiring entrepreneurs, or even just real estate agents who want to do things differently.

Mike Swenson
Yeah, I look at it as adding another tool in your tool belt, if you're already in the industry, there's something that you're doing. And so being a franchisee, or an opportunity like this, it's another tool, maybe your client base has some overlap there where you can maximise value for the client base you've currently built in whatever industry you're in. And I think people in real estate would also understand having multiple streams of income is really important, and some are gonna be more time driven, where they soak up a lot of your time, and some aren't. Or it might be for a season, hey, I'm gonna pour in a bunch of time now for six or 12 months. And then I can kind of pull back the reins and have things up and running or hire somebody to take over source nothing. So there's a lot of flexibility in having franchises. Yeah. 100%.

Karim Kerachni
And so what what happened with your with your franchise, I don't know if we touched on that.

Mike Swenson
So essentially, some of the folks in the group wanted to change to a different brokerage, and some didn't. And so we kind of just agreed to dissolve what we had in that model. And so we operated just like a regular residential real estate team did, we had, like an admin hub that did all the marketing admin transaction back end stuff for teams in different locations. So I always made the joke of we were talking with somebody on our board of advisors of here's what we're looking to do, we're looking to grow our real estate team and other locations. And this guy who's outside of real estate said, Oh, I think you should talk to a franchise attorney about that. That sounds like you're operating like what a franchise would be. And then my joke is always well, if you go hire a franchise attorney and tell him about your model, they're going to tell you Oh, yeah, this should be a franchise. You know, I'll pay a bunch of money. And you can tell me that exactly. So. So that's how we ended up going about that model. Our decision was about the money flow, and wanting to make sure we were compliant in the States, because we were in multiple states to wanting to make sure we handled that well. So that was kind of the big tipping point for us. Because there's a lot of people that did what we did everybody except us wasn't franchised, but we felt like to grow and to be in compliance in those states, that was a good model to have. But yeah, essentially, we just dissolved, the admin staff kind of went in each supported the different teams on their own. And that was good.

Karim Kerachni
And you're left with with three amazing experience. And that might even be something that you you would use in a later, later business, but you touched on something important, which I don't think we mentioned, that's another huge value in a franchise model. And including property guys. It's not only that you're buying the brand, and the systems and so on, but also all the ongoing service provided by the franchisor, to the franchisee, whether it is marketing, in our case, it's marketing, it's lead generation, we have a call centre in house that does inbound outbound calls, you know, the website with the SEO, the CRM, so all those things that really, really alleviate a lot of the the hard work and a lot of the the hustle, you know, that you have as a business owner, because you and I know, as a business owner, you're trying to do everything and you're trying you know, to to get all those, you know, marketing agents and graphic designer and web designer and so on. When all of that is removed, and your focus is 100% on business development on growing the brand in your territory, you can see how this team works really lift the whole, the franchise and the franchises around, and the whole model. And that's something that I personally really, really bought in this idea of teamwork instead of every everyone being in competition. I think it's just, it's just a game changer for the industry.

Mike Swenson
Well, even as an example, you know, I consult with real estate teams on the side in terms of admin business and operations still, and so there's somebody out there that I'm talking to that as a solo admin person, and they're like, Well, I'm trying to do all these things like we really need a marketing person. And so you don't necessarily have the funds to hire a marketing person full time. So you have to figure out do I hire a service? Do I do something a contract role? And so you've got All these fractionalized needs out there, when you hire a franchise. Now, because they're serving so many different locations, you get a specialist in each of those areas. And so instead of a team of generalists you have a team of specialists where all I do is this type of marketing, or all I do is this type of stuff for accounting, or bookkeeping and all that. And now as the business owner, you don't have to worry when do I hire the next full time employee for these operational or admin services, because it's, it's all there, it's already included. And so that's how, like you said, you can focus on the most important things to grow your business, because you know, that backend support is there to help

Karim Kerachni
So okay, and actually this with this economy of scale, where, you know, you have a handful of vetted expert professionals that are specialised in your in your model. So not only it is, you know, it's great for the franchisor is amazing for the franchisee as well, because it reduces the cost drastically, and makes the business very low overheads, because you don't, and I tell that to the potential franchisee all the time, they actually don't have to hire a team, they don't even need to get an office, they don't have to hire a team. And they can really get started. Sorry, whether they get started on their own, with their spouses, with their business partner, whatever it might be, they can get started right away, they start making money right away. That's why I mentioned that the ROI is pretty, pretty quick, within six to 12 months, on average. Because there is you know, pretty much, you know, very little expenses to have. And payroll usually is the highest, the biggest expense,

Mike Swenson
You talk to people, what are the challenges in your business, it's usually finding people and putting in systems and so that's what a franchise can help accomplish. So So talk a little bit about being able to do this while travelling all over the place. I know people out there wish they were in your shoes. So how is this, that you were able to work and build these companies and build your jobs that you've done in the past while still not living in the United States and Canada, that's

Karim Kerachni
Something I really do enjoy sharing, because I think a lot of people are currently in a position where they actually can do that. And it's just a matter of having, you know, the knowledge that they can do that how to do that, and the leap of faith of actually doing it and I'm talking coaches, consultants, you know, anyone who's currently working remotely at home should, you know, take it on the road. So it for me, it's been, it's been a process because I had that in mind for a few years, even before starting my first business to make it short, I was in sales on commission, and I was making really good money. And I was working about four or five months a year and travelling, you know, the rest of the year and spending all my money. And so I figured, hey, I need to find a way to, to make it more sustainable long term where I do have an income as I'm also you know, living my life, whatever this might mean. And in my case, it is travelling in large part. And so I when I started my first business very quickly, very you know, from from the first few months, I looked at automating those, those systems, creating systems and processes for the business, automating them delegating those, those those tasks and responsibilities, or eliminated eliminating them. That's tough work. And just, you know, you repeat that you have that well recorded in your business becomes this operation manual that contains all your systems. And so as I started doing that, from from the start, that was a blessing, because as we were growing, and then as I was opening new branches across the country, the country, it made things easy because it almost doesn't matter who's running the business, whether the manager, the assistant manager, the cleaners, they each know exactly what they have to do, and they don't have to reinvent the wheel therefore other systems that are put in place, which we can improve over time, but you know, it, it allows the business to grow without you so you're not your own limitation your own bottleneck. And as you remove yourself from the process, it is not by laziness it is to allow the business to actually strive and grow without having one decision maker in the middle or one person doing any any of those those tasks. So as I've been doing that, and you know, improving it and learning about it and teaching about it, you probably heard of the book The E Myth, which is a book that I highly, highly recommend to any business owners entrepreneurs. So that's that's in some words, that's what it is talking about. Anyways, as I was doing that I realised that okay, I am now working from home I'm not needed in the business and I even if I am needed I find another way you know, whenever I'm called for whatever reason, I was always trying to find a creative way to not have to show up again not by listening because I want it to fully being removed. Once that was done and I was working from home or from a coffee shop for for a certain period of time six months to a year I realised okay, it is time now I can I can take it on the on the road. And similarly, I've been talking about my cleaning business but about properly Guys, it's the same way, yes, I could have relocated to Boston. And I probably would have had a different kind of success or maybe a faster success in the in my session set if I did that. But I specifically chose not to do that, at least for the first few years of the business, and find ways to go around that. So yes, obviously, I do have lots of zoom calls, if you're allergic to, to zoom and meats and teams, probably not for you. But in my case, yet, it's a lot of virtual virtual meetings, lots of emails, phone calls, and so on. And I'm perfectly fine with that, because it allows me to have a much better work life balance, and you know, put whatever they enjoy as a priority in my schedule. And then work as a, you know, a second second prayer priority. The reason I'm doing this, if you heard of the book, The Happiness Advantage, it talks about, you know, the fact that if you want to be successful, you first have to be happy and content, instead of the common knowledge of, hey, I'm going to try to be successful in order to be happy. So when I reached that threshold, when I reached that goal, I will be happy, but there is always a next goal, and the next thing to reach. So when you flip the thing around, and you have your your your happy, you know, in your mental state in your in your life, then success actually does flow a lot, a lot more easily. And that's, that's really my focus.

Mike Swenson
Well, and I think I've heard a lot about that with entrepreneurial personalities, because it's always there's something more it's either bigger the next thing. And so you have to be content where you're at, because you're never going to get to the arrival point, because there's that inner drive that wants you to do more bigger, you know, whatever that might be. So you have to learn how to be content, where you're at, and then everything's going to flow out of it. How does that work? With the time changes, then? Because obviously, you're you're midnight right now we're having this conversation, I'm close to noon. So how do you handle the time differences? And then being able to still experience life in the country that you're in at that time when you're doing this? Well, everybody else is sleeping for the most part,

Karim Kerachni
You read my mind? Because as I was listening to you, I was thinking, Oh, I should I should talk about the time difference, because yes, it is, it is a big factor. And that's not the only one. But the time difference. In my case, right now currently in Malaysia, it's 12 hours with my session set. So ATM is 8pm. You know, 10am is 10pm, which actually makes it somewhat easy. Because you know, I work in the evening from roughly 7pm My time till midnight, or 1am. And maybe one or two hours in the morning, but I have my days free, I have my nights, you know pretty much free to sleep. And it does take some getting used to. But I'm very much into creating habits and routines. In general. That's something I've been doing for years. And I think it is very important. If you if you want to become a nomad, entrepreneur or digital nomad, whatever it might be, you need to know how to organise your life in a pretty, you know, well organised manner. So so in my case, I have a good routine, it took me a couple of weeks to acquire since I've been here, but I have my work time I have my play time I have you know, I wake up roughly at the same I exactly at the same time, every day, I go to bed roughly at the same time every day. And that actually makes things quite easy and enjoyable, you know, mentally and then physically and so on. But there are some, there are also some other considerations. Obviously, whenever you're going to a new country, I do recommend to first start travelling within your country, if you're in the US, it's pretty easy, there is a lot to do and to visit. But as you go, you know, you have to figure out how long you're going to stay if you should get a visa, you know, all those considerations, but visa, tourist visa and so on. And another thing that I do recommend is to as I mentioned earlier, try to automate or delegate some some of the the items that you have in hand in order to make things easy for yourself and in order for your business to grow. And so getting a virtual assistant, or getting some of your tasks and duties delegated to a virtual worker, whether it is marketing, whether it is web design, or just an assistant or a salesperson, actually everything I mentioned I actually have virtual freelancers for each of those, those tasks as we speak, that that actually alleviate a lot of the work that might be a letter, you know, painful or boring or whatnot within you know, within your business. And it allows you to focus on what really matters, you know, for your business, for you to be involved in what is the added value to your bring into your business, you yourself. And often when you take a good look at your business and the things that you're doing, you actually realise a lot of things can be delegated in where you're needed are very narrow tasks. And usually those are the tasks and responsibilities that brings the most value the the highest ROI for your business. So I highly recommend you take a step back your business often you might need some some some help a coach or also someone around you to access every part of your day in your job, what can be delegated? What can be automated with AI nowadays a lot of things can actually be automated and narrowed down to where are you actually needed in your business?

Mike Swenson
That's awesome. It's good to hear. And I think for some people, yeah, they start with Well, I could never do that. And you know, you just kind of laid out well, here's how that's possible. And so maybe start with how can I do it? Instead of giving all the reasons why I can't do that. Have you ever heard the phrase, you're the average of the top five people that you hang around? Well, real estate agents, I'm excited to increase your five with you. We're launching the real freedom investor agent tribe, to help you get educated and connect with others to build your real estate investing journey, and also to help you along the way as you're working with real estate investors, so come check it out on our website, real Go to the store, we have a membership. We have a mastermind group and private coaching to help you stay accountable to your real estate investing goals and to make sure that you connect with like minded people to Accelerate Your Progress and to cheer you on along the way. Check it out real Click on the store but we talked a lot about franchise opportunities running businesses building businesses working remotely for people that want to know about that learn more about property guys, how can they do that? Sure.

Karim Kerachni
So to reach out to me personally carry me directly on LinkedIn it's it's usually the easiest way I'm the only one so if you have my name around the title wherever copy pasted on LinkedIn, you'll find me and it doesn't even have to be necessarily about property guys if you want to continue you know good conversations like this but entrepreneurship about taking your business on the road I'm always happy to share any kind of knowledge and value and for anyone wanting to learn more about property guys, I advise you Google property guys Massachusetts that's where how you can find my my website or property guys franchise that calm is the main website about procreate franchise and obviously property guys that comm is the main website and the main brand. So in some of those websites will will give you a lot of information.

Mike Swenson
Well thank you so much for coming on sharing was great to hear your story, and best of luck as you continue to grow with the territory there.



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