Keeping The Faith In Your Business

The irony that social media can be an amazing way to connect and share, but also the source of so much anxiety and comparison is not lost on me. If I am 100% honest, I have been a social media recluse of late because to be blunt, this year has been tough. For all of the progress we have made, at times it’s like dragging ourselves through a mud pit to get to the next step. Matt literally dragged himself through mud earlier this year (I, of course, chose the sensible option of a cup of tea and a blanket!). So it seems an apt analogy.

Seeing the constant ‘highlights’ in others’ journeys (property related or not), caused pangs of inadequacy in the way I saw myself. It doesn’t take long to get into a spiral of self-doubt and before you know it, the momentum has gone or you just start to lose faith in yourself.

We entered into the property world with more energy and passion than I’ve felt for any career move before. This was it, this made sense to me and this is where I fit in. We knew we had so much to learn (and it’s definitely not a quick solution to get our dream life), but I literally could not learn it all fast enough.

What I failed to prepare for was that some things aren’t dependent on how hard I work. Some things just don’t go how you planned.  We weren’t ignorant, it’s not that we hadn’t thought about and planned for different scenarios and exits; we just hopefully believed that as long as we work hard, everything would be ok.

I was helping out at a property event last month and had the opportunity to hear Sir Clive Woodward talk. Here is someone who knows how to coach, manage and lead others to succeed. I may not understand the sport element, but my biggest ‘ take away’ was his ability to teach his team to think correctly under pressure. To think about all the things that could go wrong and how you would deal with it, thus preparing your ability to react to stressful situations and keep your head.

This was an ‘aha’ moment for me. It’s funny because one of my own personal struggles is a battle with OCD thoughts and checking. So I am usually the ‘best’ at coming up with a million potential outcomes to any situation and the thought of encouraging myself to do this on purpose is a frightening one, (it’s something I work on to keep under control). But maybe there is a way I can harness what I usually see as a weakness and use it in a more healthy productive way? Rather than my usual approach to think of them all and feel panic, to actually create the solutions in advance. Interesting.

So as I write this I have been in a state of brain fog. We have projects to plan, paperwork mountains, re-finances, disputes, big goals to achieve, as well as our personal goals; getting fitter, eating better, joining classes to establish myself in a new town. That is a lot of spinning plates and I feel like a few of them are starting to teeter. This is where I need to hit ‘pause’, to slow down the whirlwind around me like something out of a Marvel film and figure out the solutions, one at a time. I also have to fight the urge to isolate myself and get through on my own.

We are fortunate to be part of a huge network of people all striving towards their goals, with the experience we can draw on. I need to learn that reaching out isn’t defeat. So a few cups of tea on, I will keep the faith after all,  we have a 100% success rate of getting through every difficult situation so far.

When you need to re-focus, remember what’s good and what you can do to change the tide. This week;

-A catch up booked in with our mentor

-Our friends we have met continue to inspire us and be a huge source of encouragement and kindness

-We have these situations because we are taking action and trying something new

-We have each other to count on always

-If all else fails, there is always tea.

Building Your Dream Team – Builders

Our experience of working with tradesmen was near non-existent at the start. Now, a couple of years in to our property business, it is part of daily life.

It is not new information that when a lot of us hear about ‘working with builders’, our minds go to worst case scenarios and programmes on TV.  But, building a power team of trades is an essential part of this property life and without them we definitely couldn’t realise our ideas for projects.

Get the right team and they will help you achieve the dream home or investment project and have you proudly walking round the place with ‘oohs and aaaahs’ as you see it taking shape. Their expertise is crucial.

So far we have encountered both sides of the coin. Just when we had started to lose faith, we met our new builder who has done an amazing job and shown us how a project should run. Faith restored!

However, it is not fair to take no responsibility when things go wrong. We have learned a few harsh lessons; so here are a few tips and hints that you may want to keep in mind.

Do your own homework

Recommendations is how a lot of people get more work, I would definitely want to see good recommendations, however don’t take someone else’s word for it. Try and see examples of their work before and discuss the types of projects they have worked on. Does it fit with what you need? Check they have the man power and experience for the task in hand, otherwise it may not be the best fit for your project.

Get multiple quotes, you will get to hear different opinions and it will be better to see the average costing breakdown.

Be clear and write it down

This sounds so obvious, but when a project is in flow and you walk around on site, conversations can easily be forgotten a few weeks down the line. Something simple like the colour of a worktop, or a tile choice change can easily be lost in the bigger picture of the whole project. So, if you have a discussion and decisions are made, write it down and keep an email trail (it just helps everyone).

Avoid vague requests as interpretations may differ. “New sockets” for instance; who knew there were so many options for a socket?! But there are and the prices vary a lot, so even down to the finer details, be clear from day one so you know what you are being quoted for and you can make any adjustments before the work starts.

Time Frames

For me, THIS is the biggest issue we have encountered for two reasons. I seem to have a kind of time/task distortion (in which I think I can achieve way more in a day than I actually can). Then I start and realise the error of my ways a few tasks in. I probably hold others to this unrealistic expectation too.

Things rarely run to perfect timing and initial time frames seem to go out of the window. Some of this is just par for the course; unexpected sickness, the weather, a domino effect of other projects running over and effecting the next etc, but this is where we have had to wise up.

There are things beyond our control but, it is how we respond and find solutions that will determine us keeping on track. In some of our projects, we were too trusting and naive, being fed the information we wanted to hear. Remaining hopeful you continue to see it through knowing you aren’t where you should be, but being too polite to say anything. Make sure you see the projects for yourselves at different points, ask for photo updates and take action if things are starting to veer off track.

Be brave not brash!

It can be daunting to speak up and we tend to feel we would be causing offence, but when you are handing over large sums of money, you have the right to get what you have been quoted for. Don’t be afraid to point out issues if you see them; it can save a lot of time to fix it straight away than save it up to the end of the job. Of course there may be some snagging at the end of a project but these would be smaller touch ups, not big tasks.

Remember, having a conversation doesn’t equal confrontation.

Avoid the blame game

I write this with my mindful, inner peace hat on… not the first phase of frustration and finger pointing. This is something I am trying to work on and more than anything, to help calm our own stress levels.

Unfortunately there are some people who will not work to the same moral and ethical code that you do and this can be a bitter pill to swallow, especially when you know how fairly you treat others. But, ultimately the responsibility for your project is yours and nobody will care about it as much as you do.

If something has gone wrong, try and find the solution and take action to rectify the situation, (rather than pointing the finger or burying your head in the sand). Hoping it will fix itself and go away just delays the stress. In our experience we have had to pay extra to fix something ‘we shouldn’t have had to fix,’ and it seemed so unfair, but it came down to the bigger picture; solve the problem, move on and keep moving forward. Or end up stifling yourself with resentment.

Learn you lessons, replace your team if you have to, but keep going.

Money Money Money

Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could just pay for things with buttons or chocolate coins! Alas this is the clincher for your projects. Be smart with your budget, fair but strict with your payments.

Set up a payment plan at the start and agree a retention amount that won’t be paid until the job is completed to the standard you expect. On our first project we were naive and didn’t do this and by the end of the project we were over running and having to do some of the work ourselves. Our builder at the time didn’t run off with our money (thankfully), but it happens. You would think we would have learnt our lesson, but a different builder later and naive (again) to thinking we had a better working relationship than we did; left us with a fully paid but not fully finished project. This comes back to not doing the blame game, is it fair? No, could it have been avoided, yes.

Moving on to our newest team, they are fab. They have done everything they said they would and the work is to a great standard.

Equally in all this be fair to your team and pay on time when work is being done to plan, they are running a company too and can’t exist on thin air.

Relationships

Above all, we want to be building positive relationships. It benefits everyone, either through your recommendations to someone else or knowing you have a great team to move forward onto other projects with. Avoid the pitfalls where you can and try to keep the lines of communication open, even when there are difficulties.