Follow the Golden Brick Road to Property Success
Prior to launching full-time into property investment as a business in 2008, my background was within Human Resources (HR). It was here that I built up a wealth of experience in establishing the foundations and building blocks for success both in property investment and business.
How my career paved the way
I’m extremely driven. When I began in HR, I focused on gaining the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to reach the top management level. Being in the department that creates a platform for actions, goals, targets and objectives to be met through the performance and talent of the organisation’s employees was a fantastic learning experience. Ensuring all these things are met is no mean feat, because the policies, systems, training, development, culture and mindset must be right; for me it was imperative those things were in place because I didn’t operate within the statutory or voluntary sector, but within commercial businesses.
I spent a large part of my HR career in the manufacturing industry, where an ingrained culture and mindset often held sway. I became very good at supporting and boosting people performance to enhance productivity – so much so that I was headhunted several times by businesses expanding and setting up brand new sites.
This meant getting the right people in place at all levels of the organisation, but also (more importantly) getting the environment right and having systems and processes in place early on to ensure the business would fire on all cylinders within a very short timescale.
From a property investment perspective, to build a successful property business – for example developing your portfolio, sourcing deals for other investors, managing your own or other investors’ properties, coaching and mentoring others to build their portfolios or businesses – the same common principles apply … the foundations and building blocks are vital to the stability, growth and profitability of your business.
Create a road to success
One of the fundamental starting points on your journey is to be absolutely clear about where you are going. You don’t want to build the road then find you are heading towards the wrong destination. So many people skip this part of the journey and start investing without stopping to consider what they actually want as an outcome.
I talk to many new, and more experienced, investors who tell me how many properties they want, but who are not clear what they want as an outcome from them. A key component before starting is to understand your reason ‘WHY’ investing in property is important to you.
You will hear a lot about your WHY within the property environment both from an educational perspective and through coaching and mentoring. This is because your WHY is so important. If you don’t know the real reason why you are doing or want to do something, you are almost certainly going to struggle to achieve it, particularly when the going gets tough as it inevitably will. In my experience, connecting to your reason WHY will help you align to what is important to you, and undoubtedly help you develop the motivation you need to keep moving forward and staying on track.
What is the WHY... and how do you find it?
What are you doing it for? For whom? What’s the driving factor behind your motivation? What is important to you?
This is about knowing and understanding what is important in your life now and where it is you want to go. Review and write down what you want to do, be and have in your life. This will help you recognise your reason WHY, and enable you to identify and set short and long term goals aligned to where you want to be in the future.
Drilling down and establishing as many details as possible at the outset will keep you focused, determined, and repeatedly taking the small steps and actions essential to reaching your goals. Your reason WHY will get you out of bed early in the morning with a spring in your step, before going to work then spending time on your investment activities in the evenings even on the darkest and dullest of days.
When I first started in property, my WHY was to take control of my own future. The company I worked for at the time was bought out by a competitor who subsequently consolidated the two companies, closing down duplicate sites. Not only was I part of the team responsible for making hundreds of people redundant, I also had to make myself redundant at the end of it. I could have got another job, but for me that was a wake-up call: I didn’t want to be in that position again, where someone else had control over my future. I wanted control of my own future, and with a couple of rental properties already, knew that property investment was a way I could achieve it.
Strategy and plan
Your WHY isn’t sufficient on its own though; you also need to create your ‘Strategy and Plan’. There are several ways to invest in property to achieve a desired outcome; however some work better than others. Time and time again I hear people say they want to do this or that strategy – but often it is not aligned to their personal goal, it’s just what they have heard someone else talking about. Trying to find the strategy first means people don’t always achieve their goalsin the fastest or most effective way. Instead, establish your WHY, be clear on your destination, then identify the strategy that will take you there. Create clear actions around that strategy, deliver your plan, and focusing on achieving it.
A plan will keep you focused and on track. After taking time to reflect, review and set your actions and goals, quickly identifying the right opportunities as they present themselves becomes easier. But ultimately it’s down to you: you are the one who must take action and be accountable for making it happen.
Systemise and automate
One of the most important elements of success lies in systemising and automating your business. Without this, you are likely to create another day job … yes, granted it’s your own business, but it will quickly feel like a job. The same restrictions will apply around your time, flexibility and the mundane jobs – which will finally bring you back to WHY you are doing it.
To systemise your property business – because it is a business, not a hobby – the mindset and language should be positive and effective, leading you to work on your business not in it. Most people (including myself) want the lifestyle, experiences and opportunities which in my experience property most certainly can provide. We all have the same number of minutes in an hour, hours in a day and days in a week, so this is about freeing yourself to have flexibility to do the things you want to do, spend time with the people you want to spend time with, and most of all enjoy life. I feel very fortunate these days as I can spend much more time with family and friends, play golf, go on vacation, often combining a number of these together.
Putting appropriate systems in place will enable you to make important lifestyle changes. For example:
- use technology and software to optimise your time and fine-tune your business
- write up processes so you can delegate activities and get the right team to become productive, effective and efficient.
People often get bored with and stop doing the small mundane things, yet it is these, done repeatedly and consistently, that will trigger momentum and get you to your destination faster and more robustly. Being organised and structured is soimportant because it is easy to get side-tracked and distracted from what’s essential and pertinent to your success.
Outsourcing at least some of the more tedious or mundane activities is great, particularly if you are not in a position to, or don’t want to take on employees. In some cases I’d recommend doing some of the activities yourself first so you know what’s required, how it works, how long it takes, and what the benefits and potential obstacles are. Foundations make a business more stable and render it stronger to withhold potential economic climate or legislative changes.
So what do you systemise? The answer is simple – as much as you can, but most certainly anything you will do more than once …In essence you want to make your life easier not more difficult. If you can write processes for tasks first time round, that’s great; you can always go back and tweak it later.It doesn’t make sense to have to start from scratch each time. Setting up processes and templates might take time in the beginning, but easy replication saves time in the long run.
When I first started investing, I posted handwritten cards through letterboxes then waited for the calls … and recognised very early on I didn’t want to – or have time to – take ad hoc calls when I wasn’t prepared or in an appropriate place to take them. Firstly, I didn’t feel it was professional; secondly it didn’t fit well with the lifestyle choice I wanted from property investing. So I opted for a virtual pa service, which meant if I couldn’t answer a call, it would be answered by someone who had a scripted format to elicit the necessary details and explain that I would return the call within a certain timeframe. The details were emailed through to me, and I could allocate time and find an appropriate place to deal with the call. Although I have a number of people working within my businesses now, I still have this virtual answering service, predominantly for out-of-hours calls but if the team are busy during the day I know no calls get missed. As they are always answered, we don’t lose any potential customers. This service has been invaluable to the growth of my business, and whilst there is a cost, this is nothing in comparison to what it gives you in return both personally and professionally.
Manage and control your time
I also recommend reviewing your time management. By using a ‘default diary’ you can schedule what you need to do on a regular basis,allocating time in a structured way. I block out time for coaching calls, emails, meetings, and lead generation activities such as sending letters out, placing adverts or other marketing actions. If time isn’t allocated, things won’t happen consistently, and a keycomponent to success is consistency in doing the important things regularly.
If you don’t put time in the diary, there is a danger tasks get missed or tagged on at the end of the day, which is not what I want when I want to spend time with my loved ones. All important aspects in your business need appropriate allocated time in your default diary, otherwise things fall down the cracks and don’t get done … then you wonder why it’s not working? Obviously, I also have time blocked out for golf … if I don’t schedule it, there is always a risk it won’t happen!! Structure, good time management and consistency are really important to growing a successful business.
Taking control of your time is also important. When I started in property, I would fit tenant viewings around the times/dates to suit individual viewers … and if they didn’t turn up my time was wasted. That’s no fun. My time is extremely valuable to me so I want to use it efficiently. Consequently I implemented systems to manage tenant viewings. I blocked out times/dates that were convenient for me, and sure enough potential tenants found the time to make these appointments. I also grouped some together, so if one didn’t turn up it had little or no impact. Thus my resources and time were much more effective. In addition, I have structured more effective property viewings, investor meetings and other what I call out-of-office activities.
By structuring time, you can plan and make it work for you. It’s all about making things easier, more effective and efficient. The more systems you put in place, the more slick and smooth the process.
Reflect and review
Are you operating in the most efficient way? Can you change activities slightly so they work better for you? What could you outsource? Admin tasks, mail-outs, leaflet distribution, etc? Can you pay someone a fee to do this so you can spend time on activities you want to do and will have more fun doing?
Track and monitor
Monitor and track your progress over time, particularly where you outsource an activity, so you can establish what works well and what doesn’t work as effectively as it could. That may sound simple but so many fail to track and monitor regularly and therefore do not benefit from the potential insights gained.
Unless property investment is genuinely a hobby for you, you must treat it as a business. And for it to be a business rather than a job, it is so important to spend a chunk of your time workingon it rather than init.
Be clear about what you want and why. Break the details down as finely as possible because clarity is crucial for creating an effective, appropriate plan for your goals and for factoring in the actions to get you there.
Systemise and structure your activities, then track and monitor progress regularly.
With all these things in place you will be on track to excel and build your golden road to a destination of success.