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Real Estate Investing Success: As Simple as One, Two, Three

Real Estate Investing Success: As Simple as One, Two, Three

If you’ve ever looked in the self-help section for books on success, you’ll soon realize that everybody has a system. Whether it is the 9 Habits from Rich Habits by Tom Corley, the 7 Habits by Stephen Covey, or the 8 Steps to Success by Andy Albright, those who are successful find steps that work for them.

More importantly, the wealthy work those steps. Those who are not successful often put their lives on autopilot and don’t keep an eye on their everyday thoughts, attitudes, and actions. When this happens, they are leaving money on the table.

That got me to thinking about today’s real estate market and what it takes to be successful. For me, it all boils down to three principles:

  • Outwork EVERYONE!
  • Do what you say you’re going to do
  • Sacrifice

Let’s examine each of these principles and how you can apply them to your real estate investing business.

     1. Outwork Everyone

This has been my motto for my entire adult life. I believe that if you want the best results, then you must outwork others around you. Some people call this ‘hustle,’ but whatever terminology you use, it’s as simple as working harder than your competitors.

Why do I think outworking is a key principle to success and not, say, intelligence or natural ability? I’ve known far too many smart and naturally gifted people who were not nearly as successful as someone who was merely mediocre who gave it their all.

And I’m not the first person to realize this. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Things may come to those who wait…but only the things left by those who hustle.” Theodore Roosevelt accomplished a huge amount in his life even though he was sickly from childhood. Frederick Douglas became a famous author and diplomat even though he was born a slave and lived during a time of extreme racism. Why? They outworked everyone around them.

The truth is, most everyone is average and most everyone has setbacks. Yet, some of us go on to be successful in real estate investing because we are willing to hustle to get what we want.

3 Things You can do to Apply this Principle Starting Today:

  • Set aside specific hours each day for real estate investing work. Do not let anything stop you from working those hours.
  • Plan to attend at least one networking event a week. The more you shake hands and get known in investing circles, the faster you’ll become successful.
  • Make at least one contact with people of influence each day. If possible, this contact should be in person or by phone.

    2. Do What You Say You’re Going to Do

Having a reputation for a doer who actually does what they say they’ll do, will help you be successful faster than just about anything else. You do not want to be known as an investor who is flaky or untrustworthy.

Studies have shown failing to do what you say you’ll do does three things to keep you from success:

  • Reduces your credibility: When you don’t deliver as promised, people no longer believe you when you say you can deliver. It is like adding a question mark to the end of your promise.
  • Increases Distrust: Trust is built over time through hundreds of actions. If your actions do not add up to following through on your word, then distrust will increase, even if you manage to pull off a few big wins.
  • Decreases Opportunity: If you get the reputation for over promising, no one will bring you deals, and when you find deals, no one will want to work with you.


At the end of the day your integrity is one thing you don’t want to ruin. This doesn’t mean be a YES man or women. Don’t be afraid to tell people you can’t do something if you really can’t do it. They will respect you more by being honest than by saying you can deliver when the truth is you cannot. It’s that good old phrase, “Under-promise and over-deliver.”

3 Things You can do to Apply this Principle Starting Today:

 Begin using an app that keeps up with your calendar and to-do list. Many times, things fall through the cracks because you simply forgot something was due. Google makes a great calendar with reminders that work with many other projects apps. Trello and Slack are great apps for project management.

  • Do not set up appointments or take on new projects without first seeing how they impact the commitments you’ve already made.
  • If you are unsure you can handle more responsibility at the moment, then do not make a promise. Instead, suggest what you can do and then follow through. This shows you are still willing to help and will make a good impression, especially when they are looking for real estate partners or help in the future.

    3. Be Willing to Sacrifice

Sadly, many people are lazy. They say they want real estate investing success, but are not willing to sacrifice their social life or their current financial status or any number of things. You can see the lack of sacrifice through the use of lame excuses.

Examples of excuses, such as, “I’m sorry, but something came up, and I won’t be there tonight.” If we could dig a little deeper, this ‘something that came up’ might be a basketball game on TV or a night drinking with friends. Excuses can also be internal, such as “I don’t have enough money to put into another rental property right now.” Once again, a deeper look might find plenty of money tied up in an expensive car or expensive hobby.

To be successful, you have to be willing to sacrifice. Is the basketball game really more important than your word? Is the car and keeping up with the Jones’ really more important than your future financial success?

Your real estate investing goals will not magically manifest themselves in your life. To get what you want, you will be required to make some sacrifices. That’s just the way the world works. It is true that ‘you don’t gain something for nothing.” If you are not willing to make sacrifices, then you will not attain your goals and be successful. Period.

3 Things You can do to Apply this Principle Starting Today:

Look over your personal budget to determine what cuts can be made so you have more money to use towards your real estate investing goals. If you have a partner, be sure to include them on any decisions that will affect them. Always ask yourself, “Is this ‘line item in the budget’ more important than the end goal of financial freedom?” If the answer is no, find a way to reduce that line item.

  • Sacrifice those things that are a distraction to your success. Sure, surfing the internet or playing video games might feel good in the moment, but they will keep you from achieving your goals.
  • Be willing to sacrifice time with friends and family. I am not suggesting you give up your social life, but I am suggesting you put your financial success ahead of weekly poker game, especially if said poker game will keep you from doing what you said you were going to do or outworking those around you.


I live by these three simple things, and I have embedded them in my children. I firmly believe anyone can be successful in real estate investing, or anything they want to do in life, by following these three simple success principles.


About the Author

John Trautman is founder and CEO of the Real Estate Knowledge Institute (REKI). An author, entrepreneur and longtime real estate investor, he is committed to inspiring and helping other aspiring real estate investors who have an interest in everything from home flipping to buying and selling rental properties to earning passive income through various real estate investments. REKI is the fulfillment of Trautman’s ambition to act as a credible and responsive expert who is available to mentor and counsel individuals about the fundamental rules of real estate investing in an intelligent and straight-forward manner.