What I thought I’ll do today, is, share with you the 7 things you need to become a successful property developer and make 2020 your year. Maybe, you’re starting out in property. Maybe, you’re already in property, but you want to really scale your business. Maybe, you’ve tried to get into property, but you’ve been feeling a little bit stuck, and not knowing where to go to.

Hopefully, this post will really help you, and get clarity, and get you moving or growing in your property business. Here are the 7 things that I believe you need to become successful in property and make 2020 your best year yet:

1. Mindset

Mindset is key. You need to believe that it’s possible to get the success. Whatever it may be that you want to do, wherever you are in the country, whatever strategy you’re thinking about, getting involved in and following, that it all starts with the belief. We all know stuff that we don’t use. We’ve all got the knowledge that we don’t use.

The starting point, is, believing in ourselves. Having the right mindset to get the success. I genuinely believe that 80, if not 90 percent of success starts in your head. If one person can be successful in your town, in property, then you can too. Why not let that person be you?

We all came from the same place, and we’ll all leave this earth at some point in the future. But what you can do, while you’re here, is, make a difference for your family, for generations to come. Where you’re starting, funds, money, knowledge, area, contacts, it’s all irrelevant. You can get the money. You can get the knowledge. You can gain the contacts. You can learn your area. The starting point is believing that you can do this.

I have seen so many people over the last few years, through mentoring I do, and the coaching I do. So many people come through trainings, and completely changed their lives. But I’ve also seen a lot of people come through trainings, and do nothing. They sat in the same room. They sat next to each other. They took on the same knowledge. They got the same training. Yet, some people do this work. Some people get the results. And other people don’t.

The only thing that I can see that comes down to, is, the person’s mindset. Some people believe they can do it. Some people don’t. It’s not that they don’t have the same knowledge. It’s just their belief. Belief and mindset, is, critically important. Once you have cracked that, nothing can stand in your way, because you’re going to do what it takes to get the results that you deserve.

2. Knowledge

I said we all know stuff we don’t use. But I mean specific knowledge around property. Once you believe that you can do this. once you’ve got the mindset that you want to do this, then you need to make sure that you’ve got the right specialist knowledge. You need to have not just knowledge of a strategy, but knowledge of your area.

  • What streets you want to invest in?
  • What types of property are available in your area?
  • What type of tenant demands in your area?
  • Where the best strategies are in your area?
  • What works in your area? Because not everything works in every area. 

But it’s not just the knowledge about the strategy, it’s also the knowledge about property in general. You need to know about tax and systems. You need to know the people that are the right people to talk to about specific things. You need to have knowledge of the best builders, best letting agents, best estate agents, local events that you can attend, where other property people are going. You need lots of knowledge.

But it starts as I said, with the mindset. No. 2, is, go and get that knowledge. So, you’d then got yourself into the place, where you can really start to move forward with your business. But it’s not just about gaining the knowledge. It’s about then using that knowledge to move you forward.

3. Time

You need to put time into property in 2020. And I meet so many people that say, they don’t have the time. I’d be honest with you, that is rubbish. You do have the time. The reason I hear people say they don’t have the time, is because they don’t prioritise their time. They don’t have the right mindset to prioritise their time.

You need to prioritise your time. You need to know what you’re doing with your time. A really good exercise, is, to write down for about 7 days, even just write down everything you’re doing in your time during that 7 days. Every couple of hours, stop and write down what you did in the previous couple of hours. And you’ll find that you’re wasting loads of time.

People come to me all the time saying, “I’m working 40 hours a week. I don’t have the time.” I don’t care, if you’re working 60 hours a week. You still got the time. The last time I check, there’s the same amount of hours in the week, that you have as I have. And I run 11 different companies. Richard Branson has the same amount of time as me. And he’s got over 400 companies that he’s involved in. We all have 24 hours in a day.

24 hours in a day, that means we have 168 hours in a week. 168 hours in a week, if you’re working 60 hours a week, you have 108 free hours. 108 free hours, and yes, I can hear you saying right now, listening to this podcast, “Kevin, I have to sleep.” That’s fine, you have to sleep. Sleep 8 hours a day. 7 days a week, what’s that? That’s 56 hours you should be sleeping. 8 hours at night. That’s plenty sleep for anybody. 7 nights a week. 56 hours. You’re working 60 hours a week. You’re sleeping 56 hours a week. Take them to numbers, away from 168, and you’ve 52 free hours every week. 52 hours that you can do other stuff.

But you’re maybe saying, but “I’ve to do the ironing ,cooking and to do all of those sorts of jobs.” If they are not putting money in your pocket, then you shouldn’t be doing those jobs. If they’re £10 an hour jobs, outsource them. What could you do? What could you do with the free time you’ve got available?

But let’s actually get real. 56 hours a week. But 52 hours a week free, you have plenty of time available. You only need 5 to 8 hours a week. 5 to 8 hours a week, if you could allocate one hour a day even, just 7 hours a week, you could move your business forward next year. If you could imagine one hour per day for the whole 365 days next year, just one hour average a day, that would be 365 hours that you could put into your property business. That would be on 8 hours working days, 45 working days. 45 working days. Now, 45 working days you work at 5-day week, that’s 9 weeks that you would be able to put into your property business. 9 weeks, you could move mountains in the property business in 9 weeks. It’s equivalent to full-time.

Don’t use time as an excuse. Be better at prioritising your time. Don’t quit your job, before you know what you’re doing. Don’t quit your job, before you replace your income. Build your business, build your cashflow while you’re still in your job, and then jump from your job.

When I was building my business back in 2014/2013, doing my first property deals, I used to always say to myself every single day, look into the mirror, and say as Jim Rohn saying, I’m working full time in my job, and part time in my fortune. And soon, I’ll be working full time on my fortune. It took a couple of years, before I left my job.

But believing it, believing that I was going to do it. You have to be it, to see it. You believe you’re going to get that result. It starts with the mindset. Then it’s get the knowledge, and then it’s putting the time into making you a success. You can’t fail.

4. Money

People often say to me, you need the money. I don’t have the money. And that’s absolutely right, you do need money in property. And I know I’m the now money down person. And you may be listening to this, thinking that No Money Down guy just said, you need money. Yes, but it doesn’t have to be your money. You can do property deals with literally no money.

But when you’re doing a deal with no money, there is actually money. It’s invisible money. It’s the money that’s in the house. It’s the bricks and mortar of the property. You see, money doesn’t really exist. In reality, anyone who’s ever bought a house, 99.9 percent of the people that ever bought a house, never physically counted out the cash. They bought a property with other people’s money, whether that be a bank’s money, a friend’s money, a joint-venture partner’s money, a bridging loan lender’s money. People don’t use their own cash to buy houses. And what they do, is, they generally borrow money from a bank.

The banks don’t actually have the money. It’s just a number on its computer screen. And one bank passes a number on the computer screen to another bank. What do I mean by that? Well, one bank has to give a mortgage to you, and the other bank is having their mortgage redeemed and cleared. But the money doesn’t really exist. It’s just numbers on the screen. So, that’s one thing that you need to know about money.

You can do deals with very little money. You could do deals with as little as £1,000, a £1. So, a lot of deals I do, I’m not buying a property. I’m buying the debt on that property, and I’ll service that debt instead of me taking out my own debt. Why do you need to take out your debt when there’s already a debt on that house. You can use strategies like lease options to babysit somebody else’s debt or look after somebody else’s debt.

But let’s say you do need money. You do need physical money to buy a property, then you can use joint-venture partner’s money. You can use bank’s money. You can do bridging loans. You can buy, refurbish, refinance a property. So, you need to be able to access money when money is needed.

Attend networking events. Put into your plan for your time for next year to attend networking events. Become known at local networking events. And also, go to more national or even international networking events. There’s money all over this world. There are people that are trying to get their money into the UK, because it’s safe investment environment. You could attract joint-venture partners from abroad. And be there a person on the ground here with the time and the knowledge, and the right mindset to build your property business, and help them at the same time.

Maybe, you even got money, and you don’t even realise you’ve got it. Maybe, you’re listening to the podcast today, and you’ve got a pension. Maybe, you don’t know what the pension is worth. Maybe, it’s not making you any money. But did you know that you could actually get what’s called, a transfer value, and move your pension into what’s called a SSAS, a small self-administered scheme.

And what that will do, is, it allows you to:

  • Lend the money to other investors for a percentage return
  • You can do what’s called a loan back, and lend money to your own limited company up to 50 percent of your pension pot
  • Or, you can join with other SSAS pots, and combine your pots together to do property deals.

You may be sitting on money, that you didn’t even realise that you can access to build your property business. The great thing about that, is, the funds that you make, the profit that you make, is completely tax-free, because your pension is a ringfenced tax-free earning vehicle.

You might be thinking what is a SSAS. Then look for somebody, google it. You might be thinking what’s a SSAS. Google SSAS Providers. Drop me a message on social media. Comment on the Progressive Property Facebook Community. There are lots of different providers for SSAS pots. Not every pension qualifies, but many do. Maybe yours is one that qualifies.

My pension, I converted into a SSAS a couple of years ago. Probably about 3 years ago now, and it’s made way more money through properties, since I took control of it myself than it ever did while I was in a corporate job. I don’t know the whole detail about how the system works, and how the SSAS works. I don’t need to know the detail. The SSAS Provider is who I pay to make sure that they are the experienced and know the detail. All I want to know, is that, I can access the money. I can use that money to grow my property business, and at the same time, grow my wealth. And you can too.

5. Clear Goals

When I was in property starting out in 2003, my first 10 years, my goal was to get lots of property, and make a lot of money. But in reality, looking back, I didn’t have a goal at all. What I had was a dream. I see many people who have got a similar dream. They want the money. They want the property. They want to change their life. They want to get out of their jobs. But they never take any time to write down and structure clear goals.

Every year at Christmas, which is, why I’m doing this episode now. Just at the start of the New Year, a few days before the New year, I sit down and I write clear goals, where I want to take my businesses in the following year. This is an exercise you need to do, before we end up too far into the New Year. Don’t let a month pass by. Don’t let it be a New Year’s resolution that you dream up in your head, and you quit by the end of January. Make sure it’s clear. Make sure it’s structured. What I do, is, I follow a 5-Step system with my goals. I make my goals smart, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

Don’t have dreamy goals. Make sure they’re realistic goals. Don’t try and run before you can walk. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Move at your pace. Any step forward is better than staying in where you are. So, get those goals written down. Make sure you’ve got a plan for your marketing. Make sure you know what area you’re going to invest in. If you’re unsure, just pick one. If you are unsure at the beginning of 2020, and you’re still unsure, what that means, is, you have not started. Just get started. You don’t need to be perfect to get started. But you do need to start to become perfect.

Let’s get you moving. Let’s get you started. Write down those goals. Every single year, when I write my goals, they’re different to the year before. If I look at my goals from 3 years ago, I think to myself, oh my god, those goals were very small. But it was those small goals that got me to where I am today.

Let’s get you moving. Let’s get 2020 to be your year. Let’s get you writing down. Stop the podcast here, if you like. Wait till you get to the end, if you like. But just whatever you do, make sure you take some time, today, tomorrow, this week, and write down your clear goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound, and then implement, and do the steps to make sure that you achieve them.

6. Willingness to Accept Rejection

There is not a successful person on this planet that has not failed, that has not been rejected many, many times. One of the big amateur errors I see people making, biggest mistake I see them making, is, they’re not willing to accept rejection, they go away, and they expect to get a deal with their first viewing. They expect to get money out of their first viewing. They expect to become successful in the first month or 2 months. It is not a race. It is not that simple. It is step-by-step simple process, but it takes some work. And you need to make sure that you are willing with the right mindset going into, to understand that rejection is part of the journey. It’s part of success.

Every 10 property viewings that I do, I get rejected about 9 times out of 10. I get one deal in 10. And that is, if I’m even lucky one in 10. But many people I see, they quit after 2 or 3. I spoke to somebody this week that did my training only 4 weeks ago on No Money Down. 4 weeks ago, they went out, and they did 3 viewings, and they were ready to quit. I mean, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s 3 viewings. You don’t get every deal. You’re not a professional yet. You’re just practising.

Let’s get you practising. Let’s get you better. I bet you, anyone who’s in a job that’s reading this right now, I bet you are better at your job today than the day that you started. Anyone who’s reading that’s good at sport, I bet you practised to become good at sport. Anyone who’s reading, who’s ever achieved anything, or become good at anything, it started with practice. And many times, it was years of practice. Even driving a car, you need the lessons. And you needed more than one for most people.

Why do we feel that property is different? Why do we just expect that you can walk into a property, do a viewing, and get your first deal? You can’t. Some people do get the deal on the first viewing. But statistically, most people don’t. And one person might get the deal on the first viewing. One person, it might take 5 viewings. One person, 10. Somebody might need 22 viewings to get their first deal. But the only way, that you don’t get that deal, is, when you quit. That’s the only way.

Make sure that whatever you’re doing that you do not let rejection stop you from moving forward. There is not a successful person as I said that has not faced failures, that has not been rejected. The biggest mistake that you could do, is actually, do nothing at all and worry about rejection. Everybody I know. Every successful Progressive Property Trainer, we all do viewings on properties. We all make offers that are rejected, deals we don’t get. It is no different for the best property investor in the world than it is for the person starting out. You’ve got to earn your stripes.

7. Accountability

I said at the start of this, we all know stuff we don’t use. Why? Because nobody is holding us to account. Other things come first. The reason that we go to school, is because our parents made us go to school. The reason that we stay in school till the end of the day, is because the teachers made us stay in school till the end of the day. The reason we do our homework, is because we know the teachers are going to check it the next day. The reason we go to work every day, is because we’ve got to pay our mortgage, and pay our bills, and put our kids to school. The reason we also go to work every day, is because if we don’t the boss is going to know we’re not there, and we’re likely to lose our job.

It is accountability. All around us in life as human beings, we are being held accountable. The reason we don’t speed on the road, is because a camera can catch us, or in the back of our minds, we know that a police car on mark, might pull us over. The reason that we do anything in this world, is because of accountability. Yet we think that we can do property by ourselves. The reality, is, you can’t.

I tried to do property alone for 11 years, and I’ve got nowhere. I got accountability. I got myself a mentor, and my results completely changed. You see, what I didn’t realise, was, I had a mentor all my life. But the mentor I had originally, was, holding me to account. But the account they’re holding me to, was, to get a good job, a good education, to work hard, to save money, to telling me that money didn’t grow on trees. Any time I want to do something, they advised me that I was stupid. Why not just play safe, not take a risk. Why would you want to own more than one house? Why can’t you just be happy?

And that person who was mentoring me, had never built businesses. And they were teaching me how to never build businesses, how to stay comfortable. And that person was my mum, my dad, my brother, my sisters, my aunt, my uncle, my school friends, my neighbours. All of those people were that person, because they’re not walking the road that I want to walk. And they weren’t doing it to hold me back. They were doing it to keep me safe, because they hadn’t experience what it was like to build a property business.

You need to be working alongside, and being held accountable by somebody who has walked that road before you, who tells you that you’re not thinking big enough, who tells that you can do this, who tells you that this stuff works, and who forces you to take the actions, who gives you actions to take, who checks your homework. Otherwise, other things get in the way. Life gets in the way. Your job gets in the way. The cooking of the dinner gets in the way. Everything else gets in the way. You have to prioritise your property journey, your financial freedom journey as No. 1.

How do you do that when you might be reading and thinking, well, my kids, and my wife, and my family are No. 1. Providing for them is No. 1. So, what you do, is, you align the property action to your why. The family or whatever it may be. And your why to really deliver for them, you need to make the income from the property.

Your accountability comes from 2 places now. Your desire, your commitment to delivering the results that you need for your family, or that you want for yourself, and the mentor that’s driving you and holding you to account. But you need accountability from different places, if you really want to get your business to the place that you want to get it to.


Kevin McDonnell
Kevin McDonnell

Kevin McDonnell is a serial entrepreneur, author, property investor, public speaker and is regarded as the foremost expert in the UK when it comes to creative property investment strategies.