What a week!
Ben, our business partner and I were challenged to raise £250k in seven days for our property development in London.
“Our property development in London.” Ha! I love saying that. It makes me feel so proud. Last year I was screaming with excitement to say ‘I just brought a tiny sh*thole flat in Coventry.” Funny how things change. You never know
who what you could be doing in a year from now.
This is my fourth time raising private finance in a short time frame. On reflection, it still baffles me. I’m not always the cleverest sausage on the BBQ so how have I, Jessica Chai, succeeded in raising the finance I need, every time?
It’s almost like there is an abundance of money and the universe portions off the exact amount I need. Then it sends it my way, as and when I need it. Now wouldn’t that be a crazy concept…
Half of me thinks ‘It’s a one-time thing. I just got lucky, four times in a row. The other half thinks “may be there is more to it”.
This article is my perspective on ‘How to successfully raise finance’. What I am sharing with you is based purely on my experience and results. It is not by any means factual and I am still learning better ways of doing things every day.
Please note: Before you raise finance ALWAYS:
- Overestimate how long you will need the money for – I usually take the date I know I will be able to repay the funds and add three months. If it is agreed by the investor, I will also put in an early repayment clause. Younger investors tend to like shorter timescales as they are more risk adverse, older investors hate this and want their funds to benefit from the excellent interest rate.
- Calculate the maximum percentage of interest you can afford to give away while still making the profit you want – This is your bottom line. If investors or bridging companies say they will give you the money at a rate higher than what you can afford, be strong and walk away.
- Have at least 3 solid exit strategies to repay investors
1. If you want people to trust you in business, you have to be trustworthy outside of business.
I know. It is an obvious statement but some people don’t think about it.
When you first start buying property a lot of your investors will be friends and family. If they are sensible, they will look at your character and make a decision as to whether they trust you to repay the funds. If you have a track record of lying or being two-faced, it reduces your credibility. People will still be friends with you, but they are unlikely to trust you.
The good news is, we can build credibility through simple acts like telling the truth. I know that sentence is a perfect blend of obvious and patronising but hear me out. At uni, I somehow reversed into my friends car.. which I was parked parallel to. I know what you are thinking. But please remember I am female AND Asian.
Anyway, if I kept my mouth shut and acted shocked and sympathetic when she discovers someone had hit her car, I genuinely think I could have gotten away with it. I debated pursuing this plan. But the con side is I would feel guilty. Guilt consumes my mind. If my mind is consumed by guilt then everywhere I go I feel on edge. No amount of money is worth that feeling.
So instead, I reparked the car, ran upstairs to our flat and gushed, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! I’m so so sorry! It’s OK if you hate me. I’m sorry. I know I’m an idiot. I will pay for it! You can punch me if you like, but not hard. Because that will hurt. I’m sorry!” Luckily she calmly interrupted this word vomit with, “Why? What have you done?” I told her and she said “Is that it? Thank God. I thought it was something much worse with the way you were going on. I’ll get my Dad to look at it and let you know, but I’m sure it will be fine.”
Having the courage to tell the truth, even when you really don’t want to, builds trust. Even small actions like sending an email or making a call when you say you will, builds trust.
Someone recently told me that none of his friends or family would trust him with their money. It made me wonder why. If none of his friends or family would lend him money, even £50, that is a reflection on him and his past actions.
When I think about who I want to do a joint venture with, I look at someone’s past and current actions in their everyday life:
- Do they lie to save themselves from getting shouted at?
- Do they bitch about people behind their back but act nice to their face?
- Do they cheat on their partners?
- Do they fart in public and blame it on someone else? Ha. So jokes.
All the above is completely unrelated to business and that is exactly my point. If you want people to trust you in business, you have to be trustworthy outside of business.
When I was ten my Mum made an agreement with me. If I told the truth, she promised to never shout or get angry at me no matter what I had done.
F*** ups for the win! Drunk at 14. Experimental hash brownies at 16. When Mum asked why my friend was throwing up in a field after a party, I told her. Well… I tried to explain, but Tetris shapes kept falling in front of my face.
I had to endure a ‘chat’ with Mum the next morning. But, true to her word she didn’t shout or get angry. In fact, she congratulated me for telling the truth. Hooray for brownie points. No pun intended.
It’s been ingrained in me to tell the truth about important things. The more I practice, the easier it becomes.
Through the years of openly confessing when I crashed into my flatmate’s car, or yes, it was me who ate the last cupcake; I have built up a track record of telling the truth. I know these examples are trivial, but they add up. Each time I tell the truth it builds up my perceived trustworthiness. The more trustworthy I am, the more confident friends and family are investing in me.
2. Get good money habits
I am OBSESSED with my spreadsheets. Seriously, it makes me so happy playing with the formulas and filling in the data. The two spreadsheets I rave about are:
- Annual budget
- Expenses and income
I usually fill in my expenses and income spreadsheet daily. Then I always know how much I am spending on food, travel, socialising, education, charity, necessities and gifts etc. It helps me be frugal so I can save up and splash out on experiences.
I have been known to excitedly call friends and ask if they would like to get together and to go over their finances. “I have these really awesome spreadsheets I know you will LOVE,” I enthusiastically say, “Imagine how cool it will be to have your finances organised in a beautiful spreadsheet!” They tell me I need to get out more.
Eventually they come round and, in my opinion, we have a super fun evening. Highlights include going over their annual and monthly budget; how much they want to save per month; then the dreaded ‘how much they are currently spending’. People hate that bit. I love it. It is a big reality check and motivates people to implement better money money management habits.
I don’t think enthusiasm for money management spreadsheets is a necessity for raising private finance, but it does reassure my investors that their money is in safe hands.
3. Create a digital trail of your property journey
People want to be reassured that you know what you are doing with their hard earned cash. For those that have invested in their property education, congratulations! If you plan on asking friends and family to invest in you, make sure they know you have invested in your education, and how you have a strong support network around you.
Would you let someone do brain surgery on you if they haven’t learned about it?
When I am at property training events or visiting one of my property projects, I take photos and upload them to my social media. Social media allows my friends and family to see what I am doing. They get to come on the property journey with me and see my projects slowly becoming more sophisticated.
Another benefit to posting my property journey on social media is that lenders (including private finance companies, bridging companies) are increasingly looking at people’s social media account to help make a judgement about whether to lend to them. I know. It is scary how much info people can get by digitally stalking us.
I need my social media to show I am active in the property world. I am taking it seriously and I have invested in my education to make sure I am getting it right.
4. Have backups to your backups
The question I always ask myself: How can I give my investors more confidence and security? I know I will be able to repay their loans because I never borrow money unless I already have the finance* to repay them.
(Note: *finance includes money in a savings account, a guarantor, additional equity in a property I am about to refinance out.)
I always have a minimum of three exit strategies:
- Buy property in cash, renovate, and remortgage to pull investors money out.
- If I can’t remortgage, then sell the property.
- Have a guarantor in place so if everything goes tits up, the investors will get their money back regardless.
- Remortgage/sell other properties in the portfolio.
What usually happens is money comes in from other projects which I use to repay investors. But, at the beginning of your relationship with investors they like to know what their money is being invested into and how you will repay them.
Once they know they can trust you to repay the money, they may not even ask about the property deal. If my story helped you, or think it could help others please help your friends by sharing my article with them. Finally if you have other tips or questions please do share them in the comments setion below 🙂
I’ve written some more of my adventures, check them out:
- My guide to making great letting agreements
- The story of how I bought my first property
- What you’re doing wrong with email
Here are several articles that will help you understand how to raise finance