When I was starting my first business ten years ago, my partner and I held a board meeting and set out targets for the year ahead and the ten years ahead. We decided that in our first year we wanted to acquire ten properties, and that in ten years we wanted a portfolio valued at £10 million.
They were nice round numbers with an element of symmetry ("10 in 10"), they were big goals, and they were goals that terrified and energized in equal measure. We didn't obsess too much about the "how", but armed with the "what", we started on our way, steeped in the faith that we'd get started with what we had and figure things out - and learn and adjust and plan and tweak - along the way.
And exactly ten years later, our portfolio value is £9.81 million. (Yes, for the accountants among you, I know this is a bit "short" of £10m, but I used conservative values, so I say close enough!)
And the reason I am sharing this with you is because I want you to know that whatever your biggest, scariest goal is, you can achieve it too. Of course you can. But you have to get started, and there are a few simple things I learned on my road to ten million that can help you too:
1) Go slow to grow fast - Remember that Year 1 target we had of buying 10x properties. Wellllll... our grand total at the end of that year was closer to - wait for it... - two. Yes two. But instead of throwing in the towel and wallowing in despair, we kept going. Because we acknowledged that...
2) ...Success takes its own time - And all deadlines are basically arbitrary. For the sake of our egos we like to achieve in "impressive" soundbites ("10 properties in one year!"), but reality has no stake in conforming to our timelines. Things take time. And sometimes they take their own time.
3) Persist and learn... and stop watching the clock - Because things take their own time, and because sometimes the "how" can seem a bit out of reach, it's important to persist and learn along the way. Too many people give up inches (or months or days or a few short years) from achieving what they want to achieve. And there were many, many, MANY times I wanted to quit and give up and throw my hands up in defeat. But after some time-bound wallowing, I dusted myself off, learned, got smarter, asked for help, and kept going. And I reminded myself that we should - as one of my favorite quotes puts it perfectly - "Never give up on a dream just because of the length of time it takes to achieve it. The time will pass anyway."
4) BE SPECIFIC - When we set that intention to have a portfolio valued at £10 million in ten years, we weren't specific enough. Because we didn't factor in things like interest rates, and lending, and mortgages. So while our property portfolio is worth £10 million now, OUR portion of that value - our equity - is not £10 million. If we could go back to 2012, I would have tweaked our goal to be "A property portfolio with a NET equity value of £10 million." It sounds a bit pedantic, but when you set a goal, you have to make sure it is the goal you want. That it is specific. No detail is too small. Because you WILL get what you want. So make sure it's exactly what you want, and nothing slips through the cracks.
My friends, we all overestimate how much we can achieve in one year, and underestimate how much we can achieve in five years or ten years. And ten years after setting myself what felt like a genuinely impossible goal, I accomplished it.
And if I can, you can. So get started.
Because the time will pass anyway.