How to test if your business system supports you

Business Systems - Propertunities

Sustainable systems are important if you are in any kind of business or property or otherwise and seek financial freedom. Although many seek wealth to be financially free sometimes they mislead themselves into the belief that they have a sustainable system in place. I remember that in the early days of my property business, I was not totally free. I had the finance but I was tied to the business mainly because I had no system in place.

So it is with great privilege, that I share this awesome post from property investor and businessman, John Paul. John recently posted on the importance of systems and how to tell whether you have a working system in place. Special thanks to Richard Greenland for allowing these helpful posts on his Facebook UK property trader forum ….and now over to John Paul.

The Fragility of Certified “Systems”

cards, John Paul, Business, Systems

Systems seem to be the buzz word at the minute with every man and his dog talking about it and rightly so. They are the difference between you having a truly valuable business and being self-employed. Systems are the difference between you being able to sell your life’s hard work, and being stuck with something not worth a penny.

The first part of my story is proof what badly designed systems can do but thankfully the second part is also what finely tuned systems can bring to you and your family.

As most people know I’m from the collieries of the North East UK. I’m about as working class as you can get. My children are the first generation in my family that haven’t either been down the coal pit or been involved in heavy engineering.

After years of mining, my Dad left the pit and set up a pretty successful engineering business. He employed about 50 people and made things from parts of earth-moving equipment and other mining equipment (he just couldn’t escape those damn mines).

Life was good, we had a nice house, everyone had new cars, and my brother, myself, and my Mam worked for my Dad. One Sunday, my brother and I were asked to go and see them both. My Dad said that he had terminal cancer and had a year, at best, to get the company sold and set the family up for life. Unfortunately, he slipped in to a coma 2 weeks later and died a few days after that. It was such a shock, we were not prepared and neither was the family business.

It was such a shock, we were not prepared and neither was the family business.

The business did have systems, it had ISO 9001:2000 (certifying that we had a quality management system). However, and this is what I see a lot in people’s businesses, my Dad was integral to the business. Basically, my Dad was the business, he signed all the cheques, spoke to the customers, and three months after losing my best mate, the business went bust.

We lost the lot.

Receivers were called in and the first three people to be made redundant were my Mam, Brother and me. Our cars had to be returned, we had no income, no jobs, nothing. It was a terrible time for everyone. Certainly not the legacy my Dad wanted to leave, and one I promised I would never repeat.

What a Robust System Looks Like

castle, strength, systems, business

Written systems are a good start but unless they are, implemented, managed, and measured effectively, they are literally not worth the paper they are written on.

Writing an effective business system is not as simple as jotting down what you do, leaving instructions for the passwords to your PC, or hiring a cooker or a cleaner. If you want to see how effective your systems are; go on holiday for three months with no contact or communication to, from, or about the business at all. If you come back to hell on earth then you are not systemised. But, if you come back and the business is running exactly the same (or better) then, congratulations! You have a systemised business.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that when I tell business owners about my test, the number of the people that thought they had a systemised business dramatically decreases. There’s nothing wrong with not having a systemised business, you just need to understand what you currently have in order to plan where you are going.

Moving forward and looking at Castledene today, I don’t do the hiring or firing, internal auditing, credit control, sales, or anything to do with the running of the company. I have created a leadership-centric business and have passed control over to a well-trained and disciplined management team, whilst I can concentrate on other business aspects. As an example, I headed two days of training last week up at Castledene on our Elite Lettings Discovery Days and in two full days I had one work-related call, and it was a miss dial from my area manager!

It’s been bloody hard graft, a lot of researching, reading, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and worked a lot of late nights, but every minute has been worth it. I now have a truly systemised business that I don’t run or operate, except for checking KPIs.

Why am I telling you this?

Here are the key mind-set takeaways from the article:

  • Just because you feel you have systems in place, does not mean you are systemised
  • Never think “it will never happen to me”. The life lesson for me was that the worst did happen. So always prepare for the unexpected.
  • There is always someone worse off than you. Not for one second did I ever feel sorry for myself.
  • When you get knocked down you’ve got to get back up. Pull up your big boy pants and get on with.

To get systemised think about how you can automate your business so that you can be on holiday for 12 months, return and still be receiving income. After all isn’t that what passive income is all about. To properly create a system you will need:-

  • A great loyal and reliable team
  • Good technology
  • Be able to monitor your business cash flow at any month, on any day, during any hour, at any minute

Huge thanks to John Paul for sharing his advice with us. John is the owner of Castledene Sales & Lettings, if you’d like to ask him any questions about the article, contact him on Twitter or LinkedIn

If you found John Paul’s story useful:

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In the meantime, if you enjoy reading about people’s property success stories and systems check out the following articles:

Robbie Mathews: How to Create a Property Investment Strategy

Robbie Mathews - How to Create a Property Investment Strategy - Propertunities

Before you start your property investment journey, it’s vital that you build a strategy so that you stay on track and focus. In this interview, Inspirational Woman of the Year 2017, Robbie Mathews and Ben Chai share several tips on building a property investment strategy. This interview was taken at the JT Foxx family reunion (now Mega Success event) for wealthy entrepreneurs and business people.

Should you have a slow internet connection or cannot hear the interview, you will find a summary of Robbie’s tips below the video. However, we do recommend you watch and listen to Robbie as there are many more in-depth insights and learnings than our notes provide.


Decide if you want to be Passive or Active

Your first challenge with property investment is to decide on whether you’d like to be an active or passive investor as this decision will determine the majority of the early decisions you make. The two terms also mean different things depending on your location, in this instance we’ll talk about what they mean from a US perspective:

Passive Investor

The passive investor is looking to generate income primarily through investing in Private Equity Groups or through Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Essentially, passive investors give their money to other people that then invest their money for them.

An advantage of passive investing is that you can invest in property without needing to spend time on finding property deals, managing tenants, and repair damages. However, the returns are potentially lower as a passive investor needs to split the profits with the other investors and has less control over the investment decisions of the group.

Active Investor

An active investor is on the front lines actively finding deals, fixing the things that need fixing, getting mortgages, and building relationships with letting agents. Naturally, active investing requires a significant time investment.

The time investment also extends to educating oneself on all the aspects of property investing. This includes negotiating, understanding property laws, learning about cash flow, getting investment from other people, and a tonne of other skills.

Find Partners

Robbie followed the path of the passive investor, so that meant she (and her husband Michael) needed to find partners to join them on their property investment journey.

In any property investment journey (well, in any journey really), you’re going to need to find people that can offer you advice and help you on your journey. When you go looking for partners, it’s important to find people that you’ll be able to go through stressful situations with.

(I’ve actually written a book on the subject, check it out here)

In order to find the right people to work with, it’s worth “dating” prospective partners to discern if you’ll be able to work well with them. Take them to coffee, or invite them to play a game of tennis, and see what they’re like and what their goals are.


You’re going to have to go through a lot of people before you find the partner that’s right for you. The best way to do this is to do a tonne of networking! Make a habit of going to property networking events and meeting people.

Before you go networking, make a list of 10 traits that you’re looking for in a partner so that you have a solid understanding of the kind of person you’re looking to meet. With that said, be open to listening and speaking to everyone, you never know who you might meet.

Huge thanks to Robbie for sharing their insights with us. If you found this interview helpful:

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In the meantime, if you want to learn more about property investment from other people’s journeys, check out the following articles:

If you are starting your own financial freedom journey, enjoy the following articles from our library. These articles will provide you with further insights on how to achieve your dreams.

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Buying a Property Without Getting a Mortgage

Buying a Property Without Getting a Mortgage - Propertunities

So, You Want To Buy a House, and You’re Not Credit-Worthy…

I’d just turned 23 with 6,000 left over from my student loan, a bit of property education, no job, no assets, a crap credit score, no track record of borrowing credit, and lived at home with my Dad. How the heck could I get a mortgage to buy a property?Continue reading

How I was able to raise £250,000 in 7 days

How I was able to raise 250000 in 7 days

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. 

Gift, betrayal, finance
If you want people to trust you with this…

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.

cheating, success, wealth
…they need to trust you with this

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 

A legit fun time for me…

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

Moving house, property, wealth
“Property Journey,” geddit?!

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

Iron man, backup, finance
This is how I visualise making investors money safest

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:

  1. Buy property in cash, renovate, and remortgage to pull investors money out.
  2. If I can’t remortgage, then sell the property.
  3. Have a guarantor in place so if everything goes tits up, the investors will get their money back regardless.
  4. 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:

Here are several articles that will help you understand how to raise finance

7 ways mortgage brokers obliterate amazing property deals

7 ways mortgage brokers obliterate amazing property deals - Propertunities

+ Ben Chai reveals seven ways that mortgage brokers screw up your property deals

Part of everyone’s property journey is for a broker to screw up their Below Market Valuation (BMV) deals.  Like selecting a good solicitor, or builder, it is important you choose and find an experienced broker or your BMV deal may be in jeopardy due to unrealistic promises and delays made in obtaining finance.

In this article, we examine seven mortgage broker problems you need to be aware of and their impact on your deal.

1. When your mortgage broker tells you white lies

Practically every broker you meet will tell you that they are independent and can select any mortgage lender.  Terms such as “independent”, “whole of market” are often used by mortgage brokers.

The truth is that no matter how many brokers tell you they are independent, many have favourites depending on how well they know the mortgage company and what the latest deals offered by the mortgage company are.

If a broker makes this claim – ask them how independent they really are and how can they prove this to you?  Ask them about the difference between Kensington, Paragon and Natwest mortgages and find out their response.  If they state that a specific mortgage lender has the best deal, cross reference this deal with on-line sites such as and

2. When your mortgage broker and your research disagree

So, your broker advises you on the best deal, then you google it and find there are better deals….run!

For example, a while back, one of the independent brokers advised that The Mortgage Works had the best lending rates on interest-only mortgages.  At the time of the deal, we found that Virgin Money and a few others had substantially better mortgage rates.

When we approached the broker about these deals, the broker said that they could deal with Virgin Money as well. Our problem with the mortgage broker is that they should have known which company offered the best deals without us having to do our own research on the deal. So always do an online search on the deal your broker has explained to you.

3. When the mortgage broker’s costs become too high or the terms unreasonable

If you find yourself in this situation then it might be time for you to do your own paperwork, or find other investors who have brokers who work in a manner that suits your property business.

At the time of writing, typical broker costs range from £299 up to £500, others want one to two per cent of the deal. Think about whether your deal can sustain the broker’s costs and effort on your deal. For example, if it is difficult to get lending and your broker can guarantee a lender for the loan, it may be worth one per cent of the cost of the mortgage.

4. When a mortgage broker will charge you whether your mortgage application is successful or not

An experienced broker will know in advance whether the lender will lend to you especially if they’ve been with you on your first few mortgage deals.  This knowledge will depend entirely on their relationship with the lender.

All brokers say they know the “manager” which probably means they’ve had email conversation – so check out if they have ever overturned a case and get some details.

5. When the broker applies for a mortgage for you without fully understanding the lender’s criteria

Many brokers don’t fully understand the lending criteria of some of the  specialised mortgages.

For example, Paragon currently has certain criteria that a multi-let or property with multiple occupations (HMO) must meet.  Many applications with Paragon fail for silly reasons like “the kitchen being unusable” according to Paragon standards.

As a result, you will have paid out in excess of £1,000 for the mortgage broker and Paragon survey fees which are non-refundable.

To add insult to injury, Paragon currently will not provide you with the survey report that shows the reasons why the property failed the survey check AND you will incur extra checks made on your credit file which will decrease your credit rating.

6. When you engage with an inexperienced broker in a well-known long-established firm

If you have a complex property deal, you do not want to deal with a junior or inexperienced broker. These brokers are fine for your first few buy to lets (assuming you meet all standard criteria), but for everything else… run!

Several property investors have been caught out by inexperienced brokers running multiple soft checks on their credit to see:

  • Which lender would lend to the property investor
  • What criteria the lender will lend to the investor

These property checks cause the property investors’ credit scores to be substantially lowered.

So find out how long broker has been doing their job. If you find the brokers are inexperienced or unsuitable for the job try using this phrase: “no offence I understand that you are with experienced mortgage brokers who can check your work, but on this deal I would prefer someone more senior.”

7. When the broker doesn’t know how mortgageable you are

An experienced mortgage broker should have an idea of how mortgageable you actually are, or alternatively what hoops you may need to jump through in order to get a mortgage. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in property.

For example, even if you’ve only had three or four little BTL (buy to let) mortgages, some companies will not lend to you again for 12 months. Your mortgage broker should know about the lender’s criteria before submitting your latest mortgage application.

We’ve come across several enthusiastic Natwest mortgage advisors who did not know their own bank’s criteria and had to pull out of lending on a deal after offers on the properties had been accepted.  This has left property investors in panic mode or embarrassed apologies to the sellers.

Do your due diligence

The property game is a dream for many. Unfortunately, inexperienced investors can get so swept up in the dream that they forget that mortgage brokers, like anyone else, are there to make a living, so it is important for you to do your own due diligence on which mortgage broker is appropriate for your deal.

Not all mortgage brokers have the same ethics or even the same experience. It may be that your mortgage broker was great for the buy to let mortgage for your one bedroom flat but ineffective for an 11-bedroom HMO (house of multiple occupation).

Mortgage brokers also need hands-on training on deals.  However, if you have a particularly complex scenario or set of circumstances, you really do not want to deal with a junior broker. Even if the junior broker has many experienced brokers in his\her company to advise them, you really don’t want them involved.

Remember, you are the customer. If something feels wrong then back out and regroup. It’ll work out much better for your property deals and save you much stress and anxiety.

Finding a good mortgage broker will take time. Those with salaries embarking on their first few BTLs should find good deals from most mortgage brokers, but for anything more complex such as:

  • A university graduate who has no credit score or salary,
  • Someone who has a foreign domicile,
  • An investor who is buying HMOs (multilets)
  • An investor who has had more than six buy to lets
  • An investor who is mixing buying and selling with property rental

Do your due diligence on finding a more experienced mortgage broker.  You may have to get through several before you find one that meets your criteria or alternatively where possible complete the lender’s forms yourself.

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A newbie’s insight on investing in property? Nearly finished

A newbie’s insight on investing in property - Propertunities

This article outlines a few ideas on what properties provide a greater return on investment; the benefit of creating your own ‘return on investment guidelines’, how you can ensure you are always able to pay back an investor.

Sadly, this article is not witty and lacks a significant amount of personally. However I hope you find it informative and it gives you a few ideas to run with.

1. Buy houses NOT flats

My first investments were flats in Coventry.

Once I bought a house I quickly realised:

a) You cannot physically extend a flat and create additional bedrooms/living space.

Creating additional bedrooms/living space allows you to achieve higher rents.

With a house you sometimes have the option to add an extension in the garden; convert the garage; add a staircase to convert the loft; add a side extension.

b) If you own the freehold of a property i.e. a house, you can deal with repairs.

If you own a flat and there is a leak above, you need to get in contact with the owner and ask them to sort it out. If the owner above rents out the property, you can imagine the ball ache involved with tracking them down.

In summary, it is easier and quick to deal with repairs if you own the freehold.


2. Have a guideline to pull all your money out within 2 years

Firstly, let’s make sure we all understand what the above sentence means.

Define ‘pull all your money out’

Let’s break up the sentence.

Money refers to the total amount of cash you spent acquiring a property plus any renovation costs.

Pulling all your money out is when the property has paid you the total amount it cost you to acquire the property in the first place.

There are two ways a property can ‘pay’ you.

  1. Rental income
  2. Capital appreciation

Pulling money out through a rental income strategy

For example, I buy a house that costs £90,000. The Acquisition fees are £3000. the renovations are £7000. 

I get a 75 per cent loan to value mortgage. Therefore I need to a 25 per cent deposit a.k.a the amount of money I need to acquire the property. Let’s quickly calculate the 25 per cent deposit:

£90,000 x (25/100) = £22,500.

So the amount of money I need for the 25 per cent deposit is £22,500.

Let’s add the acquisition and renovation costs:

£22,500 + £3000 + £7000 = £32,500.

Therefore total amount of cash required to buy the property and renovate is £32,500.

SO, I want to ensure the net profit of this property, over two years is £32,500 or more.

Pulling income out through a remortgaging strategy

If I buy a property at £90,000 but after renovating it is worth £150,000 I may chose to remortgage again at 75 per cent loan to value.

£150,000 x (75/100) = £112,500

This calculation means if I remortgage the property at the new value 75 per cent loan to value, the bank will put £112,500 into my bank account.

However! We need to pay back the original mortgage first…

Original mortgage: £90,000 x (75/100) = £67,500

£112,500 – £67,500 =  £45,000

Therefore £45,000 goes into my bank account.

Now, the total amount of money we used to acquire the property and renovate was £32,500. 

As you can see, the amount of money the bank have just given me is higher than the £32,500 I used to acquire this property. Therefore I have pulled 100 per cent of my money out PLUS gained an additional £12,500! (£45,000 – £32,500)

Please note: This calculation has been simplified for demonstrative purposes. When you remortgage you need to remember you will incur fees, plus your mortgage payments are likely to increase.

Why 2 years?

There is no wrong or right number of years you should expect to pull your money out. You decide how soon you want your money back out.

Every investor will have their own criteria of what they deem acceptable. For some, they will only do a deal if they can get their money back out in 6 months, others are happy if they get their money out in 5 years.

You have to decide what is right for you.

The guideline I set myself is: aim to pull all the money out within two years.

Although, I should note that I would still do a deal even if it takes me five years to pull my money out. But that deal would be for a property in London with a low rental yield and high appreciation.

Every deal is different. I use my return on investment guideline as a benchmark not a restriction.

3. Have a minimum of two backup plans in case the market crashes

A lot of us investors use other people’s money (OPM) to buy property.

If I buy a property to do up and sell, what happens if the market suddenly crashes and I can’t sell it?

If this is the case you may wish to remortgage, rent out, and wait till the market is in your favour again.

This means you will need to check rental demand and rents in the area before purchasing the property. Do the rental calculations. Does the property still cashflow well? If yes – continue with the purchase. If no – you are taking on a huge risk.

Personally I don’t do deals unless I have at least two exit strategies. I would find that too much of a risk. All my properties are in high rental demand areas from university students and professionals.

Cool. But, if I can’t sell how do I pay back the people who lent me money?

This obstacle stops a lot of people from investing with OPM and instead they wait 10 years, save up for a deposit themselves and then buy their first property. There is nothing wrong with this cautious route.

I however, am impatient. I want to invest in property now. Therefore I need to figure out how I can overcome this obstacle and pay back my investors regardless of what the market is doing.

Here are some of my backup plan ideas to ensure I am ALWAYS able to repay investors on time with the amount of interest agreed. Be aware, each point has its own conditions and will not apply to situation.

  1. Add value and remortgage property
  2. Sell property
  3. Have a guarantor in place
  4. Equity in other properties I can release through remortgages or selling
  5. Cash in the bank/personal savings
  6. Offer to give equity

If you borrow money, make sure you have multiple ways to repay your investors. If you want to know how to find investors click here.


In summary, a great investment is:

  • A property that allows you to extend, add value to and increase your return on investment, either through increasing the rent or increasing the property value.
  • A property that allows you to pull all your money out within your specified time frame. Remember to create a guideline for yourself!
  • When you have a minimum of two exit strategies for the property

What escaping “the rat race” really means

Watch out people, I’m about to drop a truth bomb! There is no such thing as the “rat race.”

Everywhere I see people reluctantly talking about “joining the rat race” or saying things like “I really need to escape the rat race.”

Even at wealth development seminars, and investing workshops, a whole bunch of us incessantly talk about how the next investment will finally get you out of this mythical rodent triathlon.

Now granted it may simply be easier to say “I want to escape the rat race” than tell everyone single person about your goal. Recently I’ve actually stopped telling people what I’m going to do next due to being forced into long conversations about how I’m going to fail, but I digress.

What most people don’t seem to realise that they could’ve left the “rat race” at… Any. Single. Point.

What people think the rat race is

trainspotting, wealth, rat race
 Image Credit: Irvine Walsh

The phrase “rat race” has evolved to mean the standard 9 to 5 job at a corporation, doing a fairly menial task. Conceptually the rat race is a metaphor for an activity that, despite using up a large amount of energy, is ultimately pointless and unending.

I’ll bet that even you dear reader have a clear mental picture of what the “rat race” is.

The thing is I’ve meet a huge swath of people, from teachers, to salespeople, to journalists, to managers who all told me that they wanted to get out of this, apparently clearly defined, idea of “the rat race”.

This fact alone should make it clear that determining who is in the rat race and who has “escaped” is all a matter of perspective.

As a concept it’s been popularised by financial success courses and games. For example, in the Cashflow Board Game designed by property gurus Robert Kiyosaki and Kim Kiyosaki, the catch phrase used is get out of the rat race. This game is used in several property courses to teach people concepts to becoming wealthy. Many of which, people ignore when they leave their courses precisely because of their rat race mentality.

Doubly confusing is the fact that the majority of people who have enough assets that technically make them financially free go back into a 9 to 5 job, or even take on an even greater amount of work.

You’re probably not in “the rat race”

rat race, success, hamster
This is not you Image Credit: FrankieLeon

Is your job pointless? And I don’t mean do you think it’s pointless, I mean does the job allow you (or will allow you) to do something that you really want to do?

Up until December 1st I was an English teacher in South Korea, I love kids, but I don’t love teaching. However, teaching English has given me two things; a chance to live in foreign country, and taught me how to communicate with children, and with those who don’t speak English.

Similarly, my friend works as a business analyst for a large media company. He’s always telling me about how laughable the management is and how the internal politics of the organisation mean that the products they push to consumers are not as good as they could’ve been.

I told him to quit.

He told me that through his three years working there he has been able to; save half of his modestly impressive salary, learned the weaknesses of a large corporation, and been able to see what business systems work and which don’t. All three of these things he’s made a conscious choice to do, and is reaping the rewards of this so-called “rat race.”

If you think you’re in the rat race them either you need to think about what it is you’re learning from the experience, or if you’ve learned all you can from the experience.

“But what I do is pointless!”

Cain, face palm, rat race
Image Credit: Alex Proimos

Alright, so quit.

If you’re now thinking about all the reasons you can’t quit, please read on.

If you’re still telling me that your job is pointless, and endless I’m going to assume that you’ve already made a list of:

  • Things your current role has taught you
  • Things that your current role enables you to do
  • What you could’ve done instead of taking your current role

If you haven’t made the list then stop reading this and go and make one, I’ll wait.

As I alluded to previously, being in “the rat race” is all a matter of perspective. The purpose of the list is to show you:

  • What you could do should you choose to change jobs
  • The reasons why you’ve chosen your current job
  • Show you that being in the position you’re in is your choice

If you cannot grasp the choice paradigm of a job then you have a problem. This problem occurs when you look at your life as being trapped in a rat race. By using the word trapped you have already stolen the word choice from your vocabulary. Look at the word trapped in the next phrase.

When I hear the phrase “I am trapped in the rat race because the salary is so good,” it instantly tells me that the speaker has given themselves no choice in the matter.

You aren’t trapped, you just haven’t found your way out.

Rats don’t have to make hard choices

Rat race, success, satisfaction, cheese
This is the toughest choice a Rat has to make

If you’re lucky enough to have a well paying job (that you no longer want to do) then fantastic, all you need to do is save and invest! But I get the feeling that you’ve also developed a lifestyle that goes with that salary.

That lifestyle is why you feel trapped, you’ve built the maze around yourself. Paying off a house that’s too big for your needs, paying for the latest phone that’s marginally better than last year’s, driving a car that makes people say “nice car mate.” It’s these things that leave you trapped, because without your job you’d lose all these things.

If you feel that you’re in the rat race, start doing things that you think are meaningful. Start projects that have a clear end-goal. Make some decisions. Take control.

Wouldn’t you rather be in the human race? A human who isn’t limited by their salary? A human who can take control of their life?  A human being who makes a decision to work and support rather than being forced to to keep up?

If you believe you are currently part of the rat race, then you will never learn about being wealthy because your rat-like thinking will constantly override and sabotage any progress in your quest to true wealth.

It all starts with understanding one thing; You have a choice.

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You may also like to read the following articles on the rat race.

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Image Credit: Avinashmaurya


Achieve any dream with buckets of rubble

Dream Gamers

Many of my close friends refuse to play any board game with me.   You see I love and grew up on board games – teach me any board game and I will probably be beating you after about the third game.

I remember teaching some tech stuff to twelve guys from Santander. We had a great time and they invited me to a poker evening. I did not play poker nor did I know their card game.  I explained to them that I could not play because:-

  1. I did not know the poker game they played.
  2. I would win all their money by the end of the evening
  3. I would be accused of lying to them about having no knowledge of their game.

In spite of my insistence that they should not play me, they assured me that they would not give me a hard time if I won.  End result  – I took all their money (it was ten pounds a head).  Of course I bought them all drinks with my hard earned gains.

Now how does this relate to dreams and buckets of rubble?

It probably doesn’t at all but I just wanted to write the story down as I have a thousand words to write. However back to buckets.

Achieve any dream with buckets of rubble

When you want to learn any new skill. When a situation seems too large or too daunting. When everyone else seems faster and better than you. When you feel inadequate. Take small steps. Understand that if you feel you are competing with others then you are playing the wrong game. The only person you should be competing with is yourself and trying to better yourself and your skillset by a little bit every day.

Here I am at present. Currently sitting amongst four rooms with rubble up to my knees.   There is only me and my friend. We need to empty all the rubble by the end of the day so that our builders can get on with more productive work.

It’s a big job. A massive job. It’s super dusty. I’m hyper-allergic to dust. My friend is suffering from an ingrowing toenail which his doctor has advised he needs to get an operation on. How on earth are we going to empty those rooms in time?

Dream rubble
Imagine four rooms of rubble filled half way up the window


Achieve your dream bit by bit

The answer is little by little, bit by bit.

Now consider. We have several sizes of buckets to empty the rubble with.

  • A massive dustbin size bucket
  • A large paint pot bucket
  • A small to medium sized paint pot bucket
Dream buckets rubble
Dreams are achieved by choosing the right size of bucket for you

I am a slim skinny guy – there is no way I can carry that massive dustbin filled with rubble. I can only carry two of the medium sized ones. But what if I could only carry the small bucket full of rubble?

Would I see any impact after taking the first small bucket of rubble out? No.

Would I see any impact after taking the first five small buckets of rubble out? No.

Would I see any impact after taking the first ten small buckets of rubble out? Probably not.

Life is like that in anything you do – whether you start working out or eating more healthily.  You never see immediate results – sometimes it will be weeks, months or even years depending on your bucket size, your psyche and a whole bunch of other variables.

But guess what? If you keep at it little by little, a little becomes a lot and when those lots build up, you will see massive results.

Dream spoilers

People spend far too much time competing with others, trying to look good, feeling inadequate (which to be honest is just another ego trip), sitting around discussing about the pros and cons of using buckets – I could go on.

All of these elements simply spoil and prevent you from achieving your dream.   The bizarre aspect of this phenomenon is that to move forward in their life all they need to do is put their ego aside, stop the endless yattering, pick up any size bucket they are comfortable with and begin emptying the rooms.  Bit by bit every single room would be emptied.

So the point of this story. It does not matter how big or how daunting a situation, dream or goal is. If you are serious about your dream, you can get there by taking the smallest miniscule of steps. Just don’t compete with others.

small dream bucket
Achieve your dream – one small bucket of rubble at a time

Focus on the goal (in this case it was emptying the rubble from the rooms). Don’t try to pick up massive dustbins full of rubbish if your physical and emotional psyche is not yet trained to handle the weight, balance and overcome the associated risks – you will only hurt yourself in some way whether it be physically, emotionally or financially.

Juice up your dream

Now here’s the juice.   By starting small you will build up those physical, emotional and financial muscles and over time you will become stronger and more adept at handling larger and larger situations.

When you start emptying rubble in houses with small buckets, over time your muscles will get stronger. Over time those muscles will be able to handle bigger and bigger buckets filled with rubble until one day you can easily carry a large dustbin full of rubble.

In the property circuit, I get asked by so many people questions such as:- “How do you get angel finance?” “How can I get a large 12-bed HMO (House with Multiple Occupants)?” “How do I get great property leads?” And many more. My answer for people with no experience and who are just beginning their property journey, dance journey, therapy journey, or anything new for that matter, is to always start small.

Buckets of rubble and obtaining angel finance

Let me show you how the buckets of rubble analogy works in asking for angel finance.  If you have never borrowed much money from friends, family or colleagues before then ask for amounts you are comfortable with asking for. Don’t start with asking people for £1 million (the massive dustbin bucket).

gold, how-to, success
Image Credit: Jeremy Schultz

The only way you would be successful with asking for £1 million is if you

  • have a rich family who like and trust you
  • have handled large sums of money in the past in a responsible manner
  • have learnt enough to put together spreadsheets that accurately show return on investment

Start with asking for £1,000 or £10,000 (small buckets). See what works and if you fail well its no big deal as you only asked for a small amount. Ask the people what you could do to help them feel secure in lending you this amount. By using this technique you will soon learn how to ask for larger and larger amounts of finance.

This same bucket technique applies to all other areas of property where you are inexperienced and in fact beyond property to any skill, goal or dream you have.

As in the buckets of rubble situation do a little each day and by the end of the week, by the end of the month, by the end of the year, you will have become more and more skilled and will have the ability to take on larger and larger projects.

Dream compounding

This technique is known as the compound effect and it applies to all areas of your life, whether it be finance, health, emotional, spiritual, mental, relationships, or any of your hobbies.

By reading a little every day, your mental agility bit by bit becomes stronger. By eating the correct food every day, bit by bit your health will improve. By helping one person every day, your relationships and understanding of relationships will improve.  But none of it will happen overnight.

You must be consistent. Consistency is so important that I’m repeating the word because it cannot be emphasised enough.  Whatever you choose to do you must be consistent in order to achieve your dream. Whether you choose to empty rubble every minute, every hour, every day or once a week. It does not matter.

You must keep at it regularly and one day, you will be able to achieve and do so much more in every area of your life than the time you first started your life journey.

Dream friends

One final point before I sign off.  You are not alone.  You don’t have to clear out the rubble on your own.  If you have other people working with you – for example friends that can carry the mega dustbin size bucket of rubble, you will achieve your dreams so much faster.

Dustbin rubble dream
Like-minded people can help you achieve your dreams faster.

The more of those like-minded people you have in your life the faster you will achieve your life dreams. When I began my personal dream quests, much of my dreams were achieved predominantly on my own. A few years ago, I took a decision to include other people on my journeys.

When you share your dreams with other like minded people, you will achieve your dreams at light speed. In one year, I almost doubled my financial net worth by including other like-minded individuals and working out how I could help them achieve their dreams.

Hubble bubble dreams and rubble

So now its time for me to sign off and also give you some homework.

If you wish, click here to listen to me talk about these concepts in a 5 minute vlog.

Remember the phrase below every time you take on something that appears large and scary.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Take those single steps and google and research as much as you can about the compound effect and you will soon be able to reach those dreams of yours.

For more in this area read our active review on how you can get the slight edge and the four stages your dreams need to become a reality

7 ways to obliterate paperwork stress

Yes! Admin day is finally over *Sign of relief*. I wish I had a cheese and wine night planned for tonight. That would make me so happy.

Today I am writing an article/blog/whatever to remind me how I am able to get into the frame of mind necessary for completing all my paperwork. Paperwork is the least interesting aspect of being in business and property so I tend to be several months behind on dealing with it. As you can imagine, it builds up. However, today I finally completed all the paperwork and my office is much cleaner! More importantly, I am proud of what I have accomplished today.

What does my paperwork include?

  • Filing bank and credit card statements
  • Paying utility bills, service charges, invoices… parking fines :S
  • Setting up direct debits to reduce time spent on the above bullet point
  • Printing off bills sent online
  • Bookkeeping

    1. File statements from bank accounts and credit card statements in SEPARATE folders

folders, shelf, manage, property

I helped set up four different companies this year. Each business has a different bank account. I have debit cards, pin numbers, login details etc for each business, it was a nightmare keeping on top of.

Login details and PIN numbers for everything are now stored in the same place in each business’s folder. You can say what you want about security. For me, it is about ease of access and practicality.

Every time I hide something or make it cryptic, I can never remember the place or what my coding system was. I then spend hours on the phone to the bank asking them to reissue my login details/PINs etc, but oh wait. They can’t. First they need to do a security check and want the first and third letter of a password I have forgotten.

This dramatically slows me down on bill paying. If I don’t keep on top of the bills I get chased by our suppliers, and I hate being chased.

2. Isolate yourself from everyone

beach, passive income
Unfortunately, my office does not look like this

Admin is mind numbing. Everyone suffers from shiny object syndrome while doing their admin. Find a room (ideally your office where all your folders and stationary is) and shut the door. Make sure no one disturbs you.

If someone asks you to do something which is non-urgent, tell them you can’t do it now but advise they put it to you in an email. You can deal with it later.

3. Do not check emails

property, taxes, wealth
My internal monologue; “that’s it Jess, keep your eyes on the prize and your phone face down”

If something is urgent people will call you. If you have urgent emails to send, do it before you start the paperwork.

Checking your email distracts you from getting through the paperwork. I have to restrain myself from checking emails. I know when I check my email, I am programmed to respond and deal with the contents. When you begin (at least for me) responding to emails it usually opens up another can of worms and more paperwork. Deal with the paperwork you have got, before acquiring more.

4. Food and movement

sweets, success,
So tempting, but sweets are for after the admin work

Stock your fridge with healthy food the night before and plan your meals for the day. Sugary, starchy foods, and too much caffeine, negatively impacts our ability to focus. If you want to get your admin done as quickly and effectively as possible, you need to maintain a consistent energy level.

Personally, my body and mind work more effectively when I eat small portions of healthy food throughout the day. E.g. five mushrooms dipped in hummus, an apple, Zucchini and hummus (basically anything with hummus is great).



Water. Simple.


It’s important to take regular breaks and move our bodies around. I usually do press-ups or dance around the lounge if I am working from my home office. If you are in a public office, try going for a brisk walk or to a park and run on the spot. All I am trying to do is get the blood pumping around my body. This helps me stay alert and focused.

6. Listen to a Youtube motivational talk or your favourite music

The majority of my paperwork is basic sorting and filing. It really is mind-numbing and can be done without much thought. Having something useful or enjoyable on in the background helps pass the time and makes my paperwork hours fun or educational.

7. Have a big desk or a big floor to organise initial paperwork

todo list, busy, dream
This is basically what my floor looks like for a day

Although I try to self-organise paperwork in nice compartments, a large amount of receipts, bills, contracts are left in a pile. With a big desk or empty floor space, I can organise my paperwork into which business or property they relate to. Within the properties, I have subdivided my receipts further into months. Within the months, I organise the receipts into travel, utilities, subsistence and whatever else my accountant prefers.

It is so easy to think “if I did my paperwork at the end of every week, I wouldn’t then have to face this paper mountain!” Of course, it isn’t really a mountain but it feels like it is. Dealing with the paper mountain simply isn’t as exciting as looking at new deals, swapping transformational tips with other investors and business owners, attending and networking events, and helping people understand their finances and reduce their costs (I’m addicted to helping people budget for success).

So that’s all for now. Hope you are able to use some of my story to help you get through your paperwork.

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Never give up: An incredible lesson from a conversation with a sourcing agent

I just got an unexpected call, and am still reflecting back on the experience. Through years of difficult living conditions, family struggles, and racism something inside me changed and now I can never give up!

Even when all seems hopeless I can’t stop looking for ways to achieve my goals, because I know that even if I fail something good always comes out of striving. So today I want to show you guys a conversation I had with one of my property sourcing agents.

dr who, success, property, sourcing agent
Image Credit: BBC


Hi. Great to hear from you. How have you been?

I’ve just been round to that building you showed me.

Sourcing Agent (SA)

Are you trying to go behind my back?


No. What do I have to gain?


Jonathan (the manger of the building) just told me you asked him to show you the building.


Uhhhh? Really?


I told you that if you wanted to see the building you have to ask me.


I see the building every day, I live two minutes from it and show every potential investor the outside of the building


But you asked Jonathan to show you around.


No. Jonathan was outside at the time. I told him I was with my architect and Jonathan asked if he wanted to have a look round.


Jonathan said you asked him


No. He asked me and my architect and my architect said yes. I asked Jonathan if he was sure about it.


Jonathan told me that you asked to look around.




You also told me that you cannot compete with the buyer who has £13 million in cash.

So why are you looking around?


I told you that I can’t move as quickly as the other buyer and that I did not want to mess you around.

I also told you that if you could give me two months I would have the money available.


But you told me…



What do I have to lose by showing someone the outside of the building? Why would I want to do something behind your back?

You already have a buyer who you have told me will do the deal in a week. So I have nothing to gain by upsetting you.

But understand this; until this property is off the market I am not giving up.

I never give up when I am interested in something. Since I spoke with you, I have had three people come back and said that they have the finance available.

Until you call me and tell me the property has been officially sold I will never give up.

I told you that I cannot show you proof of funds for at least two months but that situation may change. SO what do you want me to do? Just roll over and give up?


You said you are going abroad for a week and you are showing people around behind my back! You also told Jonathan you want to see the owner.

I told you if you show me proof of funds I will arrange for you to see the owner.


Look – at this moment it doesn’t matter what I do. I don’t have proof of funds yet so you’re still going with the other buyer.

What do I gain by upsetting you? I told you that  I never give up!

So what if I am going abroad in a few days? Does that mean I should give up? So what if I said you should go with the other buyer for now? Does that mean I should give up?

I only said that to you because I did not want to mess you around. I like this building and I never give up. Never.

Why on earth would I want to upset you? If I upset you then I lose access to lots of other buildings. That is crazy behaviour.

I told you what happened. I did not ask to go into the building, but even if I did – how does that change the outcome?

The question is “do you believe me and do you want to do business with me in the future?” because now I am angry with you. Just understand that I DO NOT GIVE UP.

Jonathan, probably didn’t want to get into trouble that is why he said what he said.

But so what if I did ask to be shown around? How does this affect the outcome? I was trying to help you by what I said about the other buyer.

Of course I don’t want you to sell to him! But if the seller wants to move super quickly… I didn’t believe I could move that fast.

I was wrong, so do not ask me to just give up.


You know Ben, this is why I like you. You are honest and straight forward. Even if you do not get this building. We can do business – I have another office block in London that is coming up – perhaps we can do a joint venture together.

Never give up!

Rocky, Success, Wealth
Image Credit: Warner Brothers

There was a lot more to this conversation which lasted for about 60 minutes, but the gist is shown here.   Never give up on your dreams. Never give up on your goals. Always look and find a way. Demand from life what it is you want and one day life will give up.

But life will not just roll over and give you your dream. Life wants to see how serious you are. How much you are willing to sacrifice to get your dream. So never give up. Never ever give up.

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Image Credit: Warner Bros