10 Things I’ve Learnt (Part 8)
This week we’re onto number 8 of ten things that I’ve learnt over the last 20 years of investing in property for myself, and number 8 is this: “Don’t try and do it all on your own”.
It appears that beginner investors and entrepreneurs get struck down by an “entrepreneurial curse” when they start out. They often believe that they must get started on their own and do everything alone – otherwise, it’s cheating.
When I take part in property training sessions, I see this all around me – there’s this feeling that if you get somebody else involved, then you’re cutting corners. To give an example, a novice investor that’s based in London and who wants to incorporate BRR or buy to let into their strategy. Doing this type of investment doesn’t work in London because the yields are just not achievable. However, when I suggest a northern town and sourcing a JV partner to help them find the type of properties that fit their strategy, they stare back at me with a look that says, “That’s cheating!”.
In my opinion, it’s not cheating to have help – in actual fact, it’s smart to have help.
Perhaps this view stems from our experiences in school whereby “collaboration” was viewed as cheating. I include myself in this too, as it took me quite a long time to come around to the idea that help is something positive.
For many years I worked almost entirely on my own. Well, not entirely on my own because I was working with managing agents, solicitors and mortgage brokers; but the day-to-day running of the business was all down to me.
One day, I realised this needed to change; I needed to change. I was doing stuff that I actually wasn’t really very good at – and this wasn’t very good for business.
When we try to do everything on our own, we end up doing stuff which we shouldn’t be doing. Stuff which we’re really not very good at. For example, I’m not very good at detailed work; I’m not great at maths and I’m not a particularly detailed person. I’m more of a “big picture” visionary type.
When I started out I knew what I wanted my business to look like, but I wasn’t particularly good at doing the bookkeeping, admin, filing… and similar tasks that are really quite important as well as necessary. I listened to a talk about this and the suggestion was that you should leverage and outsource the tasks which are not in your flow. It got me thinking about what I could do and I thought about my wife. This is exactly her forte. It turned out that whilst I wasn’t great at these tasks, my wife on the other hand actually enjoys doing this stuff, and is great at it.
Now in your case, it might not be your spouse or significant other that you bring on board to help you – you might outsource the things that you aren’t good at instead – but there will be someone out there that can help you and this will allow you to concentrate on the things that you ARE good at.
It’s not cheating, it’s working smarter – and by working smarter we can then work “less hard”. So, don’t try to do it all on your own. Find someone to work with you that can complement and supplement your skills as this will make your business far stronger.
Here’s to successful property investing.
Peter Jones B.Sc FRICS
Chartered Surveyor, author and property investor
By the way, I’ve rewritten and updated my best-selling e-book, The Successful Property Investor’s Strategy Workshop, which is an account of how I put together my multi-property portfolio, starting from scratch and with no money of my own, and how you can do the same. For more details please go to: