Plenty of people take the plunge into property investing. They know it makes sense as an investment, but they don’t spend enough time thinking about what they actually want to get out of it.

This is why many people complain about an investment not performing as they'd hoped it would and usually, this is because their expectations were either misaligned, unrealistic or, in most cases, not even defined or measured properly.

Before you start investing in property, consider this – what are your objectives, goals and desires?

When you’re going on any kind of journey, you need to work out what your destination is, have some clear written objectives and apply a time frame to them. These objectives may change as you move forward and you need to review them regularly, but you should certainly be able to be specific about the next twelve months and have some idea about where you want to be in five and ten years’ time.

And be realistic – you’re not going to become a multi-millionaire property investor in just a few months from a standing start. Property isn’t a ‘get rich quick’ business, it’s a ‘get very rich, over time’ business and you need to plan for the medium to long-term if you’re serious about creating something meaningful, with sustainability and longevity.

Once you have an idea of where you want to be and when you want to get there, really think about what you’re going to need, financially, in order to achieve those goals and live that life, because the ‘how much’ and ‘when’ will dictate the choices you make with your property investment portfolio. So are you focused mainly on some kind of pension provision for your later years; are you looking for an income that will allow you to give up your ‘day job’ and choose what work you take; do you simply want to grow your capital as quickly and securely as possible; are you already wealthy and want to grow your business to leave as a legacy; is your current business or portfolio no longer working for you…or is it a combination of some or all of these?

Perhaps it’s simply about managing the wealth that you’ve already created. My business partners and I specialise in working with a lot of other high net worth individuals who have significant amounts of funds to invest and just want to turn that into more money, in order to create more freedom, security and choice in their lives.

Whatever your goals, you need to set them so you know what strategy would be best suited to you. If you’re sceptical about the usefulness or effectiveness of writing down your plans, this illustration might make a difference:

In 1979, Harvard Business School conducted a survey of students on its MBA programme, asking how many of them had clear, written goals for their future and plans for how they would achieve them. Only 3% had actually written them down, a further 13% had unwritten goals, and the remaining 84% didn’t have any specific goals at all. Ten years later, in 1989, the same group was interviewed again. Those with unwritten goals were each earning around twice as much as those without any goals at all, and the 3% who had written their goals and plans down were found to be earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% put together (‘What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School’ by Mark McCormack).

A number of people have spoken to me about the story above, discrediting the source of the information. For me in this instance I don’t think it matters much either way. I know from my own experience personally and with PPP that those who are clear on their goals, have them committed to paper and who review them regularly, achieve greater success more quickly than those that don’t. In these instances I tell people to “separate the learning from the teacher” and take what is of value to you.

View more articles by Steve Bolton