The Experience Of The Entrepreneur
I want to spend the next few weeks writing about the experience of the entrepreneur and their ‘learning’ through interview style questions. My hope is that this will enlighten the emerging entrepreneur to recognise the ups and downs, joy and pain, that is experienced on this ‘road less travelled’. Most importantly my aim is to give invaluable advice to business owners and start-ups.

My first interviewee is Paul Ceam; having studied Business Administration at university Ceam followed in his father’s footsteps and started purchasing properties in South East London. He purchased his first property age 19. This became his main business and today he owns (almost outright 20 properties in SE London). He says he has worked very hard to achieve what he has and strategy has been paramount in his success.

Q 1:
What are the most important hurdles you have overcome in your property business?
A 1: a) “Learning how to do building work myself (attending basic plumbing, tiling etc. courses) so to understand the quality and right price of quotes and outsourcing building work to qualified builders.

b) By managing the properties myself I learnt the importance of creating a tight legally binding tenancy agreements; getting to know tenants and building a good relationship with them.
c) Getting credit history healthy and saving enough to buy the next or first ‘buy to let’ property.
d) Knowing how to get a good mortgage whether that is through a good mortgage advisor or on your own.
e) Learnt that buying a larger property near a tube station pays off long term.”

Q 2:
What is the most important piece of advice to someone starting a property business or portfolio?
A 2: “This is not a suit, white-collar tie type of business. If you love sand, cement, paint and all over building work and dealing with all kinds of people from all backgrounds then go for it!
It is a full time business; which requires your personal efforts and attention at all times. To maximise capital growth and profit ‘Do it yourself’.”
Q 3:
Did you use a strategy to map out your business? If yes, what strategy would you suggest?
A 3: “Buy as many properties in the right area; every property you don’t buy will come back to haunt you in the future…have courage!”

Q 4:
How is the property business different now from when you started in 1998?
A 4: “When I started the property market was easy to get into; Cheaper properties and lots of mortgages available and easier to get. Now the house prices in London are high and getting mortgages is much harder but the good thing now is that there is a high demand for rental properties. This is at an all time high meaning more choice of tenants, rental security, better tenants and rental income.”
Q 5)
Which course would you recommend to future property entrepreneurs? A 5) “I would highly recommend to do a short, basic course in tiling, painting, carpentry, electrical and also property management.
I also recommend a health and safety course and keep all your certificates safe.”
Last bit of advice…?

Make sure all fire alarms and fire exit signs, fire extinguishers and fire blankets are in all the rental properties. Check with the local council and fire department for their local regulations and comply with them.

GAS AND ELECTRICITY CERTIFICATION: Keep these up to date and in order by using certified qualified electricians and gas cert plumbers. Keep paperwork safe and easily accessible.

PLANNING PERMISSION: Never do any work without planning permission (if it needs permission)

BUILDING WORK: Get the building work done by professional builders with track records and do not give a contract to a builder promising the earth!
Do not get emotionally involved when you are decorating or renovating your rental properties unless you are in a premium area with premium rental income.

BUY BUY BUY and keep cost as low as possible…that is the way forward in any business! Good luck” Written by Pina Patane

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