Lessons in the Field: Entrepreneurship meets Property

Many business lessons have been gleaned over the 13 years of YDL’s existence. Read on for the entrepreneurial tips you can apply to property investments, and elsewhere.

Be 100% honest in your dealings.
The kind of clients you want to take on both now, and in the future, are sure to see through anything underhanded. Do you want to lose face with your most precious commodity? Stretching the truth, even exaggerating, has a way of building up… and then tumbling down. The integrity of what you’re offering cannot be underestimated.

Use transparent business models, rooted in sound corporate governance.
After Enron, there’s been a global trend towards transparency, which businesses have embraced as a way to improve service and increase customer loyalty. And, sound corporate governance has become a worldwide movement because it is a system that instills policies and rules for maintaining the cohesiveness of an organisation. It also holds a company accountable while helping it steer clear of financial, legal and ethical pitfalls.

When something goes wrong, admit it.
Own it, and do as best as you can to fix it. Sweeping an error or unfortunate happening under the carpet can go horribly wrong when your client finds out; your reputation is at stake! In the long term, you’ll find that clients and colleagues alike appreciate this approach. And if you’ve shown a willingness to work through challenging issues with them, they are sure to become more committed to working with you now or choosing you in the future.

Employ great systems.
All operational systems should be well thought through and diligently employed. This means doing a particular thing in the same preferred way, each time, otherwise called best practice, and building on these foundational systems as a business grows more complex. In property flipping, for example, we employ the same financial viability tool each time we analyse a new property because a minimum return target is required before we consider taking on that property. Clients appreciate the systems we present to them and also employ to manage risk in our dealings.

Choose the best talent.
This ties in with knowing your strengths and limitations in business. A great leader will surround herself with people who are smarter and more experienced than her, in areas where she is less experienced. So be honest about what you are good at, and where it is that you need to tap into the skills and talents of others. Also, be willing to continue learning in areas where you are less accomplished.

Be a positive member of the chain.
This relates to critical operational areas, and most especially cashflow. If you pay your suppliers on time, they’ll be able to buy the equipment they need to do the job, or next job, in the queue. Experienced contractors know that they are more likely to go out of business because they run out of money, not because they run out of work. If you delay payments to suppliers and contractors, they are fully in their rights to opt not to work with you in the future because slow payers present one of the biggest risks to the survival of a small business.

Know your niche.
In tough economic times, it can help to work across a range of different business areas. But it is also important to know what your speciality is and to focus on it. Reasons for this include: your marketing message becoming clearer; expert status is in easier reach; clients will choose you for your speciality and you’ll get to know them better; and your unique talents will show themselves. Client risk is lowered when they can choose an expert in a niche, who knows the trends and can access up-to-the-minute information about it.

Sound relationships are key.
Remember: conducting business is never a digital transaction – it involves dealing effectively with other people. Do you know your customers and ideal target market? Are you fulfilling their requirements? Invest in knowledge that brings you closer to those you most wish to service. If you find that you are falling down in this area, a series of sessions with an inspirational coach or business mentor may help. Business coach Peter Carruthers, founder of the Academy of Small Business, sends out a newsletter to his database of clients, customers, colleagues, partners and fans in which his approach to internet marketing is: Make it personal, make it regular, make it real. It’s a winning formula.

Anton de LeeuwYDL has built a solid track record of entrepreneurship in the real estate space. Our goal is to work with you to achieve the same. Contact Anton on 011 465 7356 or email anton@ydl.co.za to find out how you can put your money to work for you, through sound investment in property.

Warm regards,
Anton de Leeuw