Let's be honest; investing is hard. If it was easy we'd all be rich by now; lying on a white sand beach in Cuba, sipping mojitos.
But investing is hard. So what do successful investors do that we can easily copy? Even if we can't replicate their success, they still offer priceless lessons to improve our own investing results. Here are three important things that successful investors do that regular investors often don't.
1. They invest in their personality
Even among the most successful investors, no two are alike. There is only one Warren Buffett. And there is only one Bill Ackman. But what they share is a strong understanding of their own investing style and personality; using this to their advantage.
Successful investors understand their tolerance to risk; their preference for established blue-chip companies or young start-ups; even their comfort with certain industries. It all shapes their investing personality. Your investing personality in turn shapes your investing decisions and will guide you through tough times. Start by listing investors you identify with and studying what made them successful.
2. They track their performance
Successful investors track their performance over time, something regular investors often neglect. It can be boring, but is essential to identify what is going right, what is going wrong, and how your performance changes over time.
Yes, it can be disheartening when your returns slump. Investors in Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) and ResMed Inc. (CHESS) (ASX: RMD) would have felt that sting recently, but to be successful it's important to confront the good AND the bad.
Most brokers offer basic portfolio tracking tools as part of their service. There are also a range of free spreadsheet portfolio templates available. I use a free tool called Portfolio Slicer (no affiliation to The Motley Fool). The tool takes some time to set up, but offers comprehensive analysis.
3. They read and read… and read
Reading can turn a regular investor into a great one. This is a fact echoed by many of the most successful investors including Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger:
"Investment is a broad area. So if you think you're going to be good at it and not read all the time, you have a different idea than I do" – Charlie Munger, cited by Barton Biggs in his book 'Hedge Hogging'
Reading will build your knowledge base and your skill level, and expose you to new investing ideas. Many of the best investing books are light, fun and easy going. Authors like Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad series) and Joel Greenblatt (The Big Secret for the Small Investor) are good examples, but books and articles on any topic will help you grow your expertise.