Seven Traits of Highly Successful Investors: Do You Have Them?


By James A. Gage

I read recently that of the people who become landlords, roughly 85% of them file bankruptcy after five years.

Why the sky-high failure rate? After mentoring new investors for 16 years, I know it’s because people go into real estate investing with “pie in the sky" expectations that don’t pan out.

We all know about the late night talk show gurus who promise you can become a millionaire overnight using their “proven" tactics. The fact is, however, that what separates the successful investors from those that fail isn’t luck or fortune or hard sell tactics.

What makes people successful is hard work . . . with a little luck thrown in. I know that isn’t what you want to hear. But the truth of the matter is, successful real estate investors don’t need to watch late night TV gurus because they’ve taken to heart – and continually practice – the following seven traits:

Success Trait # 1: Successful investors prepare themselves mentally.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype regarding real estate investing. You hear or read the stories of people becoming millionaires almost overnight – and you want a piece of the action, too. Tomorrow, preferably.

A new investor, believing the hype, becomes impatient and foregoes preparation and education. He then ends up in over his head with his first deal, and when the deal goes sour, he blames it on the late night guru who sold him a bum deal.

Savvy investors, on the other hand, patiently lay a solid foundation.They take the time to educate themselves about real estate, financing, and negotiation so that when that first deal comes along, they’re mentally and knowledgably prepared to ride out the inevitable ups and downs.

Success Trait #2: Successful investors work with mentors.

Real estate investing requires skill, patience, and street-savvy knowledge – knowledge you won’t get from a guru who has written a best-selling book but hasn’t practiced in years.

No matter what their experience level, savvy investors work with experienced coaches or mentors to help them get to the next level.

You can either pay a person to work with you or you can partner with a successful investor on a deal. Either way, you want to find someone who is actively practicing what you want to accomplish and model your behavior after him or her. (Note: Experienced investors can smell couch potato investors a mile away. So have your game plan ready and be ready to get to work.)

Success Trait #3: Successful investors never give up.

It’s a negative world out there – and your spouse, co-worker, or relative can destroy your confidence and drive with statements such as, “What you’re doing is sleazy," or “You’ll never become wealthy – you don’t have the drive."

Even worse, however, is your own negative self talk – especially if you’re tried real estate investing in the past and weren’t successful or if your early deals haven’t worked out. Beating yourself up is debilitating. The louder your negative self-talk, the easier it is to second-guess yourself and/or not proceed to the next step in your growth process.

Successful investors know past events don’t determine future incomes. They keep a positive mental attitude and consistently work toward their goals even when faced with negative outcomes or criticism. They know that a “no" today doesn’t mean a “no" tomorrow. In short, they don’t give up.

Success Trait #4: Successful investors work consistently.

One of the biggest mistakes new investors make is assuming that real estate investing is a 100-yard dash – when it’s really a 26-mile marathon.

A new investor, for example, will attend a training course and come out pumped up and ready for action. After putting two 40-hour weeks with no results to show for his efforts, the newbie investor becomes tired and burned out and ends up quitting within three months.

Investors who have achieved success learned that consistency is what matters. Whether they work 20 minutes a day or 20 hours a week, they devote time to their craft on a regular and consistent basis. Doing so ensures they keep up their momentum and drive – which is why they’re ready when that deal they’ve been waiting for “magically" appears.

Success Trait #5: Successful investors continually invest in themselves.

Consider golf pro Tiger Woods: although he’s won the PGA Masters three times plus dozens of other championships, he didn’t decide to slow down and coast on his success. Instead, he worked with a coach to make his golf swing more efficient. He’s now the #1 ranked golfer in the world.

No matter how successful you become, you must continually invest in yourself. Like Tiger Woods, successful investors invest in themselves by attending seminars and conferences, joining networking groups, reading books, and hiring coaches or mentors to help them reach the next step.

Success Trait #6: Successful investors understand Return on Investment (ROI).

It’s a fact: entrepreneurs are often times the worst business people – meaning they have the vision needed to get a business up and running back lack the practical application for making sure it becomes profitable. (This is why eBay has Meg Whitman at the helm, not the original founder.)

Ditto for real estate investors. How often have you heard someone brag, “I put hundreds of hours into this deal!" – as if spending all that time is a good thing. If you spent hundreds or thousands of hours putting together a deal, and your profit is only $5,000, then you’re not making much more than the person flipping hamburgers.

Experienced investors know that calculating a deal’s ROI is crucial for ensuring future success. They keep track of their time and the funds spent/earned to ensure their business remains profitable.

Success Trait #7: Successful investors have a financial plan.

Once you start generating cash flow from your investments, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of spending money – especially if you lived frugally in order to build your investment business. Dinners out, fancy vacations, and a spiffy new car can wreck havoc with your bank balance.

Instead of spending your money, take a tip from successful investors and work with your accountant or financial planner to develop a plan. Your financial plan should allocate monies that support your lifestyle and family, investments in yourself and/or your business, savings for future endeavors and retirement, and donations to your favorite charities.


"You are who you are and where you are because of what you have put into your mind."

For more information or pricing please do not hesitate to call or e-mail. I can be reached at (508) 595-9567.