Last week I was having coffee with a multimillionaire real estate investor and businessman. We were talking about successful people and what sets them apart from everyone else we know. We came to the conclusion that successful people expect success to be hard. Because they expect it to be hard, they do things others won't. They create what others can't.

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."
-- Mark Twain

When most people think about investing, or any type of success, the first thing they do is look for information on what others have done. Most of us, including me, are looking for shortcuts or secrets so we don't have to spend the time and effort figuring things out for ourselves. There are entire industries created to distributing and selling false hopes to those in search of easy money. Real estate investing is a big one.


Let me ask you this: Do you think it's possible to read the exact same tips and tricks that millions of other investors are reading and get better results? If everyone has the same knowledge, how can you reduce competition so you can increase profits? Doing the same thing as everyone else and hoping to succeed makes as much sense as buying a Ferrari to get through rush-hour traffic faster. Your competition defines your potential. You want to reduce the competition so your potential is limitless. You want to be the one in the helicopter during rush hour traffic.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them."
-- Albert Einstein

The easy path vs. the hard one
Let's look at a few easy paths a lot of us are on and don't realize:

  • It's easy to set up Internet searches to look for good real estate deals like everyone else. It's hard to learn real estate math, zoning, and building codes so you can create good deals no else has thought of.
  • It's easy to buy cheap properties as rentals, because successful investors tend to leave these alone. Investors looking for long-term success can't have high turnover, high vacancy rates, or high maintenance or management costs.
  • It's easy to work 40 hours a week for the security of knowing you'll spend the rest of your days watching TV and clipping coupons. It's hard to take risks and start a new investing business.
  • It's easy to work more if you want more money. It's hard to obtain the skills to get paid more and work less.
  • It's easy to buy a new car, live in the big house, and spend half of your income on interest payments. It's hard to live with less and invest in a better future.
  • It's easy to be busy. It's hard to set aside time every day to think about how you could be more efficient.

"If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary."
-- Jim Rohn

To do better requires thinking in ways others don't and doing things others can't. The best way to accomplish this is to never stop learning, because knowledge determines your actions, and your actions determine your success. The more you know, the less competition you'll have.

Warren Buffett, one of the greatest investors of all time, spends 80% of his day learning about investing and 20% investing. He has done this his entire career. How many people put that much effort into anything? How many people have had that level of success?

"If you want to have more, you have to become more. Success is not something your pursue. What you pursue will elude you; it will elude you; it can be like trying to chase butterflies. Success is something you attract by the person you become. For things to improve, you have to improve. For things to get better, you have to get better. For things to change, you have to change. When you change, everything changes for you."
-- Jim Rohn

Has going it the hard way been valuable to you in finding success? Be sure to leave a comment below, and let's talk.

This article originally appeared on BiggerPockets.