1. Don't blindly listen to me or anyone else. What works for me isn't always going to work for you. You are in a different market, with different skills, and have different resources. Do what works for you.

2. If you don't know what works for you, keep reading and listening to podcasts until you figure it out. We have 83 episodes of the BiggerPockets Podcast, and they are all free. Listen to all of them and I guarantee a plan will start to form in your mind. 

3. Remember: You don't need to know everything about everything. You just need to know enough about the one niche and strategy you are going to get into. Don't get overwhelmed with knowledge. Focus on what matters. 

4. Real estate investing is not a competitive sport. Ask for help from others. Build relationships. Learn from those with more experience than you. As the famous quote says, "You are the average of the five people you associate with most."  Go associate. 

5. Get your spouse on board or wait.  Your marriage is worth far more than your net worth. 

6. Write out your business plan. This doesn't need to be super formal, but it should be written down. Where do you want to get to? How are you going to get there? Without a road map, it's hard to stay on the right path.

7. If you are buying a rental property, budget for property management, whether or not you plan on using it. If you can't make money while still paying a manager, you aren't buying an investment – you are buying a job. If you choose to manage, great! But don't buy a job.

8. Do your math like your wealth depends on it; because it does. To help with this, try out theBiggerPockets Property Analysis Calculators. You'll love them. Then do the math again. Be conservative in your estimates and don't fudge the numbers.

9. Sweat equity is a good thing. Don't be afraid to get you hands a little dirty if needed, but also understand that you don't have to. Manual labor can be a good trade for cash, but it's not the only way.

10. You will have problems, stress, drama. Don't be surprised by it, but receive it carefully like you are catching a water balloon. Problems are a puzzle that you need to solve, not a dead end. Remember this when times get tough and it will help keep the stress down.

11. Treat your business like a business, not a hobby. Create systems, processes, and rules that govern how you do things.  Pretend that you will be handing your business off to someone else very soon – so you need to have a carefully defined process for doing things. This process will change – and that's OK.

12. Share your stories, mistakes, lessons, successes, and more with others. We are all on this journey together!  The BiggerPockets Forums are a great place to do this!

This article originally appeared on Bigger Pockets and is Copyright 2014 BiggerPockets,

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