My favourite subject. Investment. Investing in your own ecommerce business is the best, most time efficient way to make money. But to grow real wealth you need to diversify into other investments as well. Your ecommerce business (or other business / high paying job) provides the cash for investing. It is the interest earned of those investments however that pays for your luxury lifestyle.
1. Real Estate investment.
The most important and first investment you should make is to buy your own home. Initially live off your income from your ecommerce business by paying yourself a modest wage. Save the rest for a deposit on your own home. Decide where you want to live and go house hunting there. The real estate market moves in cycles.
The top of the cycle is definately not the time to own investment residential property. If you own it, sell it, especially if you have a mortgage over it or you may end up owing more than the property is worth. Remember if your equity in a property drops below a certain level the bank can foreclose on your property even if you have never missed a payment. Many people have come undone that way.
When it does become time to invest in property again, seize the day! Investing in property can be very lucrative as you can be paid four ways -
If you buy below market value (as you always should) you make immediate equity.
If you buy a positive cashflow property you get paid weekly. A positive cashflow property is one where the money you collect in rent is more than the outgoing expenses for the property.
In many countries you can can tax advantages by owning property using depreciation.
You can gain capital growth by buying a fixer upper and renovating. You also get capital growth over time if you buy at the bottom of the cycle.
Factors that affect the property cycle include -
supply and demand
migration & population
zoning and planning
what returns are being had in other investments
and confidence which is affected by positive or negative media reporting on property.
When buying investment property never, ever buy on emotion. Emotion IS a factor when you are buying your family home, you have to love it. But emotion has no place in investment decisions. Buying investment property is all about the figures. Never be afraid to walk away from an opportunity as there are always plenty more. Don't buy property at auction as the emotions of the participants often push the price too high. And you don't need to live in an investment property so don't impose your own personal standards on it, your tenants will accept a lower standard of living than you will.
Always do due diligence on any potential property purchase. This includes a building inspection by a qualified builder and also get a pest inspection done. When you decide to buy and you hire a conveyancer to handle the legals always make sure the contract you sign is subject to legal due diligence. That way if your conveyancer finds some legal problem you can get out of the deal.
I recommend you set the following rules for yourself when buying investment property. Buy at a minimum of 10% under market value, only buy properties that are positive cashflow and/or high capital growth, buy properties that can be value added with a cosmetic makeover and only buy houses or blocks of apartments because the land it sits on is what gains value. The buildings themselves depreciate over time.
So how do you find below market investment properties? Look for sellers who are selling because of death, divorce, bank forclosure, because they are moving and have a deadline or sellers who don't know what they are doing. I'm not suggesting you rip people off but equally you are not their mother, your responsibility is to you, they can look after themselves. If they accept your low offer price that's their business. Hot deals can often be found in the local newspapers, look for words in the ads like urgent, desperate, heavily reduced, well below valuation, transferring overseas, vendor has already bought etc.
Investment property hunting can be a long frustrating business but it's more than worth it. I follow the 100-10-3-1 rule. Look at 100 properties, put offers in on 10, have 3 accepted and buy 1. If you don't review enough properties you will not understand enough about the market values and returns in any particular area to pick a winner.
Whatever you do, be careful trusting real estate agents. Many agents will do whatever it takes to earn their commission check. They often recommend auctions as they shut out other agents, unlike general listings. Always remember agents work for themselves not for you. Be prepared to be knocked, mocked, spoken to in a condescending manner and generally treated as though what you want is unachievable. Buy privately if at all possible.
Do use agents to manage your tenants for you though. Tenants are an even bigger pain in the neck than agents. Also if a tenant does something illegal in your property you as the owner don't want to also be the manager or the police will try to implicate you in the conspiracy so they can sieze the property.
The wealthy don't follow the crowd. They buy when shares, property etc are unpopular and cheap after they have identified the future trends based on what is going on in the world around them. The wealthy sell when the crowd wakes up to late and jumps on the bandwagon. The wealthy are contrarian investors. Most investors are afraid to invest in this way because at first they appear wrong. It takes guts to invest this way but you always get the last laugh.
This is why the luxury lifestyle is enjoyed by so few in society. Don't be a sheep, be the wolf. Hunt, don't follow. Seek out the best advice, ask yourself.....does this fit into my personal circumstances? If it does then act.
With shares, always employ risk management strategies. Always use stop losses on any investment you make. Decide in advance how much you can afford to lose on any one investment. If your investment drops in value by that amount (I recommend a 15% stop loss in general for shares) sell it. Don't hang in there hoping it will get better. Cut your losses. Not even the best investment gurus get it right everytime. Also use position sizing in your investments. Invest the same amount of money in every share investment. If you have $10,000 to invest in 10 companies, then invest $1,000 in each. Don't put more in one company because it appears to be doing better than the others. Don't put too many of your eggs in one basket. These two tips are the basics of all risk management strategies of the successful investor. You can't always win but you can control how much you lose. In the above example if you invest $10,000 in 10 companies ($1,000 in each with a 15% stop loss) and two of your stock picks turn out to be duds you limit your losses to $300.
3. Final advice
If I had to choose the 3 most important things I have learned from the wealthy they would be these.
Don't spend money on depreciating assets until you are spending your interest from your investments. Then you can live a little. Certainly never borrow money to buy depreciating assets.
Limit your losses. Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen. Manage that risk to a level you feel is acceptable then go for it. Stick to your risk management plan when you make a mistake.
Learn from your mistakes and more importantly learn from the mistakes of others.
Dr Gregory Lipke is the CEO of Cyber Publishing Ltd. He has a Doctorate of Business Administration & a Bachelor of Science as well as years of experience in Private Investigation, Personal Protection & Security. He is the author of Your Luxury Guide .