Every January, gyms around the country swell with resolutioners — those hapless souls who swear this will be the year they get in shape. By the end of January, attendance at the gym is back to normal.
Why is it that come January 31, nothing’s changed? That all the same people are religiously working out — and all the “this time it will be different” folks have failed again despite their best intentions?
The explanation is simple: Only routinized behaviors stick long-term. Willpower alone is not enough to change behavior; behaviors must be incorporated into the daily rhythms of our lives if they are to be sustained.
Employees have the benefit of a boss to tell them exactly what to do — and to motivate them to do it. But real estate investors are self-employed, which means they must also be self-motivated. They need to know what to do, and then they have to force themselves to go do it.
Instead of relying on that vaporous thing known as willpower, which always fizzles on you sooner or later, here are some techniques to systematize and routinize the right behaviors for success.
1. Crack bottlenecks with the 10/4 Rule.
Where’s your bottleneck? What’s limiting your ability to buy or renovate or manage or sell more properties?
For some investors, it’s funding. For others, it’s finding good deals. It could be anything — too few contractors, too much time spent managing rental properties, a real estate agent who can’t unload your properties quickly enough.
The key to scaling your real estate business is identifying your bottleneck and then systematically attacking it.
Try the 10/4 Rule for systematizing your assault on your bottleneck. Find four activities that will produce the best results in expanding your bottleneck, and then do ten of each of those activities every day. Every day!
Related: 3 Ways Giving Thanks Leads to a Better Real Estate Business
If your bottleneck is funding, then you could focus on finding partners with deep pockets, finding lenders who will lend at a higher LTV, or raising money from friends and family. You could focus on finding a new job that pays better or getting a raise. You could focus on ways to slash your spending and live on half your income to save money much faster. Most likely, you’d want to do a combination of these.
But you must form the habit of doing these actions every day if you want to see sustained progress. If 10 actions is too many, then do five, but build it into your daily routine to do these actions every single day!
2. Double down on what’s working.
Set aside a few hours to review all of your real estate investments’ performance over the last year. What has worked great? What did you spin and spin and spin your wheels on, with few results to show for it?
You’ve probably heard of the Pareto Principle (a.k.a. the 80/20 Rule), stating that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your actions. But take some time to identify what those 20% of actions are. What’s producing the best results for you? Once you’ve found them, double down.
Specifically, double down by incorporating those actions into your 10/4 activities. It’s not enough to simply say, “That seems to work, I’ll try to do more of that.” It has to be part of your daily routine: “Every morning starting at 8:00 a.m., I will do 10 of ______.”
You can’t do everything, so systematize your actions based on what is producing the best results for you.
3. Where you’re weak, delegate.
Not only do you not have time to do everything, but even if time weren’t a factor, no one’s good at everything.
What do you procrastinate on? What takes you longer to do than it should? What do you utterly hate doing? Where is your performance just not very good?
Find someone else to do these things for you.
Some of these activities can be handled by a personal assistant (either virtual or in-person). For example, bookkeeping is something many investors don’t do as well as they should, but is easy to hire out. Assistants can help coordinate with lenders, make payments, show vacant rental properties. They can run errands or handle any other time-sucking obligation to free up more time for you to focus on core business activities.
Core business activities are high-skill activities that directly create revenue. Your assistant can’t make decisions about which properties to invest in, how well to renovate them, or which contractor to use. They can put together proposals for all of these things, but you need to make these decisions yourself.
If you struggle with some of these high-skill, core business activities, fear not. You can still delegate them, just not to an assistant. If you’re weak in a core business area and don’t want to become strong in it yourself, then find a partner who excels at these skills.
All it takes is networking.
4. Network like a champ.
Hate networking? You’re not alone. Some people just don’t like chitchatting with strangers, making small talk, trying to build a new relationship from scratch. I’ve been one of those people myself.
The good news is that it gets easier with practice and eventually becomes second-nature.
Chances are, your bottlenecks would break open if you knew more of the right people. If you were on a first-name basis with every private lender in town, do you think funding would be a problem for you? Or would completing projects be a problem if you were friends with 10 good contractors?
Part of your 10/4 activities should involve networking. You need to make it part of your daily routines to build better relationships with the right people. Take people out to lunch, comment on their Facebook posts, introduce them to someone you know who might help them. Ask about their families, and learn what their other interests are.
We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Make it a priority to know more of the right people: fellow real estate investors, lenders, contractors, real estate agents, appraisers, home inspectors, even your existing friends and family members. Focus where you’re weakest first: your bottleneck and the people who might help you break the dam. But don’t stop there — you never know who will help you on your path to financial independence. Your Aunt Sue might have an extra $25,000 sitting around and underperforming for her, and if she only knew you and your investing projects better, she might be interested.
Progress Comes From Routinizing the Right Behaviors
Want to achieve more progress over the next year than you made in the last year? If you work on the right thing every day, you’ll make progress on it.
Start by identifying your bottleneck. “If I only had more _____, I could do so many more deals!” Then identify the behaviors most likely to give you more of that one thing. Start by evaluating what has worked best for you over the last year: the 20% of your actions that have produced outsized results.
Pick the four most productive behaviors, and do 10 of them every day. If you’re weak in an area, don’t fret it. Delegate it to someone else.
At least one of those behaviors probably involves networking. If none do, then reconsider your four behaviors — you may want to swap one out for networking with the right people.
Set aside a block of time every day for these behaviors. It should become thoughtless: “Every day at this time I work on _____.” You don’t need willpower to force yourself to brush your teeth; it’s simply routine. These behaviors must become as thought-free as brushing your teeth.
The first few weeks will require willpower, and you’ll look for excuses to put off doing these behaviors. But once you establish a fixed routine, it will just be another part of your day.
A part that will happen to make you rich.
What behaviors have helped take your real estate investing to the next level? How have you routinized the right behaviors? Or what behavior changes were you thinking about making a resolution to start doing better?
Leave your thoughts below!