People spend a huge amount of their time reading and studying stock market research and financial newsletters on how to invest their retirement funds. If you have $200,000 in savings, at the prevailing CD rate of 3%, that's $6,000 per year. And even if you are the best stock picker since Warren Buffet, you are unlikely to beat 10% per year – which yields $20,000. That's hardly enough to retire on. Of course, you could just spend all your principal, but for most Americans, that would deplete your entire savings in just four years.So here's another retirement strategy. It's a lot safer, and actually works.If you find a billboard location on a highway, in a small town, and build a wooden billboard out of telephone poles and plywood (the way it's been done for about 80 years), then you can build a billboard for around $8,000. And that billboard will generate about $3,000 to $4,000 per year in net income.That's a 50% return on your investment! And that's before leverage.You can often get a bank loan for about 50% of that amount.Going back to your $200,000 nest egg; if you invested just $100,000 of that amount in your new billboard venture, you'd have 12 billboards, earning around $40,000 per year. Is that a better strategy? And that's not to mention the fact that you control the performance of your investment, not some New York investment adviser or trader (remember Bernie Madoff?).So how do you get into the billboard business?Yes, There Is Training AvailableInexpensive courses on the billboard industry are available at www.outdoorbillboard.com. In addition, there are many free articles you can find on the internet, that will at least give you some background on it. There is even a Boot Camp you can attend.Select A TerritoryThe first step to getting into the business is to define what your “territory” is – what geographic area you are going to search for billboard locations in. This territory, for most people, is a radius of about three hours around your home.Learn the OrdinancesEver since Ladybird Johnson helped to pass the Highway Beatification Act in the 1965, the billboard industry has been regulated by both city and state statutes. These are different in every state and every city. You have to become an expert at these ordinances, so that you can tell a real opportunity from none at all.Get Zoning MapsOne of the building blocks of looking for billboard locations are zoning maps for the area you are working. These maps show the zoning on all properties fronting the highway. This is important, since billboards are only allowed in certain zonings. Your state and city regulations will specify what the zonings are.Hit The StreetsA lot of the work in finding billboard locations, assuming you have solid strategies, is to drive the highways looking for legal locations. Initially, it takes a while to get the hang of it, but later on it becomes second nature. If you do it properly, you only have to drive a market once, and then work from the information you derive from that one trip.Start Signing LeasesA natural by product of hitting the streets is signing leases. Billboards are like any other business – the greater volume of time you put into it, the better the results. It's a game of percentages. You need to have the proper ground lease form and to understand the parts of it so you can explain it.The Most Important Part – Take ActionYou are not going to find billboard locations over night. You need to start now to have a solid billboard portfolio for retirement. It is always hard to initially get out of your chair, but a happy retirement is a big carrot to dangle. Take baby steps to get you moving in the right direction.ConclusionBuilding a retirement income from billboard signs is a very real goal. It is a lot less risky than expecting to beat the market, or even achieve 10% annual returns in your stock portfolio. Four of the Forbes 400 made their wealth in billboards. That's a lofty goal, but it shows that the money is there if you will only apply yourself. They all also started out with just that first sign.
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