Two members of the Progressive Property community recently told me that reading too many commercial property success stories can be demotivating. I can understand that – no one who is struggling and encountering more obstacles than achievements wants to read too many tales of success, because there are times when they are more likely to make you feel alone and useless than empowered and geared up for another challenge.
Reading all the good and none of the bad can give an incomplete story, as if high-achieving property investment entrepreneurs are attaining their success without having to get their hands dirty and fight for their right.
This is, of course, not the case. Every entrepreneur encounters challenges, pain, struggle, dismay, disappointment and disillusionment at least once in a while when trying to progress in the buy-to-let property world. Show me a commercial property investor who has never encounter hard times and I’ll show you an investor whose pants are on fire.
Every story has its roses, but also undoubtedly its thorns. It’s just that some people are more selective when they tell theirs.
Success stories vs. “down-n-dirty” stories
I have always said that it is useful to compare yourself to other commercial property investors only when the situation inspires you. When you read of a successful buy-to-let entrepreneur, if you find that you are beating yourself up for not being as successful, or you get annoyed at the storyteller, or you feel envy at their success, I’d recommend taking a step backwards.
As I mentioned, any commercial property investor’s success story that doesn’t include struggle or strife has been carefully edited for content. When people share their success stories and property investment experiences on social media, they could be doing so for a variety of reasons, and you will do well to keep that in mind. They could be sharing their genuine successes, or doing it for an ego trip. They could be celebrating a breakthrough, or they could want to help fellow buy-to-let investors, or they could simply want to be noticed within the property market. There are numerous other reasons too, so remember that when you have an impression of someone, it’s your viewpoint, not theirs.
When an entrepreneur shares their “down-n-dirty” property market story, it’s more likely to include some of the difficulties they have encountered, but there aren’t many buy-to-let investors who are going to give the full story. If you are interested in learning more about the paths they had to walk to get to where they are today, you could always just ask them.
Some of our “down-n-dirty” details
Seeing as I have at least two – but probably way more! – entrepreneurs in the community who are fed up with the polished, struggle-free property market stories, I thought that I might list a few not-so-polished sides of the Progressive Property tale, alongside just a few touches of success.
1. Setting up: We started our partnership with a loss-making overseas property. We then swiftly moved into a loss-making off-plan property, a loss-making new-build property, and followed these with a few more loss-making shit-holes.
We finally found our property market niche and bought hundreds of properties that we still own today.
2. Letting agents: We used a letting agent who stole the deposits and who subsequently went to prison. We then moved to a letting agent who sided with the tenant. We moved letting in-house and wrestled for a year shifting them over so that they were under our control. We also bought a letting agency that “stole” our properties back from us.
Despite these setbacks, out letting agency has now over 720 let units.
3. Hiring: We began hiring way too late, when we had already been struggling for a while. We hired our mums first, and I played referee between Mark and his mum, who Mark would make cry most weeks. We hired an executive assistant who set themselves up in business with a client and left. We had 8 PAs in 9 years, two of whom slept with a staff member and both left. We gave our staff too much to do, failed to train them adequately, and had many people leave on a single day. We also created almost all of our competition and had a number of staff leave in order to set up, “Progressing Property”.
We now have 70+ staff, who are some amazing, loyal people. During our time with them we have created some amazing memories. We offer some amazing staff benefits and I’d say that we have a unique culture too. We still make mistakes, but we are trying to learn from them. Last but not least, I have the most fun and sometimes feel like I have the easiest job in the world!
4. The rest: I and some staff members crash a lot of cars, and this costs money. We send too many emails, and our printers are higher-maintenance than I am in my relationship. I also have some haters, some of whom very kindly set up a “Rob Moore Money Grabber” Facebook page. Thanks for that!
While, yes there are still these not-so-fun parts of the job, we just completed a deal for a 90,000 square-feet, colossal office block, which is our biggest deal to date by around 600%! There will be plenty of challenges ahead, but I’m ready and excited.
Roses + thorns = the flower
I think that stories are useful, because they can let people know about other buy-to-let investors’ experiences and let others know the kinds of experiences that folks in the same industry are going through.
In the property market, there are thorns and there are roses; challenges, struggles and moments of spectacular beauty. At the start, there are usually more thorns than roses because you haven’t yet earned the right to smell them yet. Over the last 11 years, we’ve had many challenges that generally arose from our lack of knowledge. I genuinely believe that the good and bad luck, the struggles and the successes, will even out over time as long as you keep moving and keep growing. But you can’t have thorns without roses, and you can’t have roses without thorns; however, over time, you may just find that the roses outnumber the thorns.
What do you think about success stories? Do you prefer to hear about the challenges or the achievements, or a little of both? Let me know in the comments section below, or join the conversation on the Progressive Property Facebook page here
If you would like to read about how to get more done in less time, have a look at my book Life Leverage, which you can find here
If you’re currently encountering more challenges than successes, here’s a blog article about how to overcome problems using a systemised approach
"If you don't risk anything, you risk everything"
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