After 12 years of real estate investing, more than a thousand transactions and 50 houses and notes gathered in my portfolio, I can only say one thing for sure: Experience is an excellent teacher.

Through my devastating failures and massive successes, I’ve learned six lessons that, had I incorporated them from day one, would have propelled me at least twice as far in my real estate investing business — and with greater ease, too.

As an aspiring real estate investor, you may feel lacking in knowledge about building a successful business. It might seem like the days of managing employees, having a constant flow of deals and leads or even just having enough money to invest with are too far off to see. But every successful real estate investor was once where you are.

The following lessons about maintaining effective business strategies, getting the most out of your deals, building a team, maintaining good relations with your money partners and much more that I wish I had known from day one.

1. Hire a bookkeeper first.

A bookkeeper should be the first hire for your business. Paperwork is much, much easier (and cheaper) when you keep up on it from the very beginning, and it’s quite handy come tax season. Plus, you can write off your bookkeeper as a business expense on your taxes. They literally pay for themselves.

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2. Find the deal before anything else.

Many people will teach you how to do deals, but very few people will teach you how to find deals.

Finding deals should be the primary function of your business. It’s really what all of real estate investing comes down to. It’s the most profitable part of the business, and when you have a piece of discounted real estate under contract, you’ll find that all your other concerns tend to magically vanish. That’s the power of controlling a “real deal.”

If you haven’t yet, set up your team and systems for this part of your business first. I strongly suggest using an automated lead machine to generate leads round-the-clock so you’re never at a loss for deal opportunities.

3. Remember, consistency beats competition.

Consistent hard work beats everything. It beats investors who have more talent, resources or experience than you. To put it succinctly, consistent hard work beats everything when everything else doesn’t work hard consistently. In…