Learn before you earn
One of the most important things in being successful in any field is education, and investing in apartments is no different. Put together quality education and focused action and you'll succeed at anything. This blog entry is designed to give a quick overview of various methods along with their strengths and weaknesses. I'll also tell you what to look for with any given method so you can steer clear of pitfalls in your learning and allow you to continue on your road to success.
Podcast We'll start with the good old podcast. Podcasting has become more and more prevalent in the past several years with billions of episodes downloaded each year, and podcasts about multifamily investing are popping up all the time. Best part is, they're free and you can listen almost anywhere - while you're commuting, exercising, etc. Different podcasts look at real estate investing from different angles, and each episode can focus on one or more aspects of investing. Besides the ease and convenience, I think the main benefit is you get to hear real people tell real stories - some of them I could very easily relate to. Some were very inspiring and encouraging for the aspiring investor. On the flip side, it's hard to find podcasts that will get into the level of detail you need to learn the skills necessary to succeed. For example, try to learn how to underwrite a property from podcasts. Also, podcasts typically won't give you a sequential, A-Z guide for becoming an investor. Last thing I'll mention on podcasts, since it is so easy to start a podcast, there are thousands out there on any subject. It may be difficult to determine which hosts are actually experienced in their field. Some inexperienced podcasters may put out bad information. I mean, good for them for producing content, but it may be bad for you. What to look for: podcasts from experienced investors that motivate and inspire you to take action. Check ratings and reviews - typically, the better the podcast is, the more ratings and reviews it will have.
Books This is also a very basic way to learn and different from podcasts in several ways. Most books are very structured and sequential, unlike podcasts which are often unscripted. Books can use other ways of conveying information - for example, a book can use a diagram, picture, chart, or table to help explain a topic. Like podcasts, you can also take books with you using apps like Kindle or even listen to books on your device of choice just like a podcast. Books come in a range of topics - some give a general overview of syndications while others will focus on a singular topic, like raising capital or conducting due diligence. Also, some people learn better from reading than from listening Of course, most books are not free. Though you can get some books for rather cheap in electronic form, most books from established authors are going to carry a price tag. Like podcasts, anyone can write and publish a book and sell it on Amazon. What to look for: Books from experienced operators that meet your specific needs. Buy at established retailers and look at the ratings and reviews to determine the quality of a book before you buy it.
Videos In a way, videos are like a fusion of podcasts and books in that you can learn through visual presentations and through listening to what is said. A lot of podcasters are now recording video and publishing that as well. There are several YouTube channels that are designed to teach the business. They can be organized in sequential order or hop around different subjects and with different guests. Certain subjects, like analyzing financials of a property, can be much better explained on videos as you're able to see the screen and hear the explanation at the same time. Obviously, there's a similar warning to video channels. With platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, or Dailymotion, there's quite a proliferation of content creators and channels, so watch out for inexperienced videographers trying to fake it until they make it. Another downside, it's a little harder to watch videos while driving, running, or biking like a podcast or audiobook. You may need to dedicate time specifically to this one action. What to look for: Like books and podcasts, you want a reputable content creator. Look for someone who's actually active in the business and can speak from experience. Also, check ratings and reviews.
Webinars Webinars are also a great way to learn. They come with all the benefits of videos above, so I won't repeat any of that. I do think a webinar is preferable to normal video content though because there is typically some sort of interaction between the hosts or speakers and the guests. A lot of webinars will have Q&A periods or allow people to post questions about the content. Even if you're not able to ASK a question, other people may have the exact same question and ask it for you. What to look for: reputable hosts and speakers discussing topics that are relevant to you.
Meetups and Networking Events Look at these less like events where you go and learn and more like the events where you go and meet. I started going to meetups to listen to the guest speaker and learn. What I quickly found was that the networking AFTER the guest speaker was more important than the content. Investing in apartments is a team sport and you'll need people on your team. Networking events bring together a bunch of like-minded people that are potential partners, mentors, or investors. Meeting the right person can accelerate your progress faster than any other single thing on this list. What to look for: Events and groups that attract high quality people with similar interests. You'll also want these events to allow for interaction between guests.
Online or In-Person Courses Like books, these courses will typically be set up in a logical, sequential order and are a great way to learn and may incorporate many of the above methods in delivering content. Most courses are paid content - so you'll have to pull out a credit card at some point to access the material. Most paid content is curated and it should provide better value than the free content on YouTube or other channels. Courses can be centered around content or around community. The best ones bring both information and people together. A lot of these courses will also give you more frequent access to the creators so you can ask questions and learn directly from them. Don't be afraid of paying money to learn. Look at good courses like you would higher education. Most people would pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for a degree, so don't let a $2,000 price tag stop you from learning. What to look for: Once again, reputable content creators with information in the best format for you. Also look for community so you can network with others with similar interests and goals.
Mentorship This is perhaps the pinnacle of the education pyramid, but it typically has a price tag that rivals that new car purchase you're contemplating. Most mentorship programs will include online or in-person courses, and the educational aspect is vitally important to mentorship. This allows learners to go through self-paced content in between mentoring sessions. Mentors can help guide you through the process, keep you on track, and push you past your limiting beliefs, but they won't do the work for you. It's still up to you to take appropriate action and push through In my experience, mentorship helped me to accelerate my growth and tackle projects that were larger than I ever thought possible. What to look for: content, community, and experienced mentors. Definitely ask others for recommendations. Conclusion There are a lot of options for learning and I've done all of the above at any given point in time. Hopefully this give you a quick overview of what's out there and helps you to design a learning program that's perfect for you.