How did I get here?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” And so starts the classic novel ‘A tale of two cities’ by Charles Dickens.

Just like the Dickens novel, my own personal and professional journey has been punctuated with moments of ‘the best of times and the worst of times’.

This year marks an important milestone for me personally, as well as the development of Platinum Property Partners. It was two decades ago, in 1994, when I started my very first business, and one decade ago that I purchased my very first HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation) property.

Together with my business partners, a highly committed team of staff and all of the Franchise Partners, we have built PPP into a market-leading business.

We are the fastest growing premium franchise in UK history and our Partners have purchased more than £120million of property since we began in 2007. Furthermore, independent research has shown how we have achieved double the industry standard in terms of Partners’ satisfaction with the financial performance of their PPP property businesses. The entire team can be very proud of this success.

In this blog, I aim to highlight some of the critical success factors that I hope you may be able to take value from and apply personally. I also hope that you may gain some form of inspiration from the fact that I left school with no qualifications and not very much more self-confidence!

July 1994 – The end of being a wage slave

It was exactly 20 years ago that I finally stopped trading my time for money as an employee of someone else’s business. The catalyst for me in starting my own business was three-fold:

  1. Frustration with a job that was no longer satisfying, both financially and personally
  2. A strong desire to have more choice and freedom and ‘be my own boss’
  3. Reading a range of personal and professional development books that helped me gain ideas and inspiration from others who had started their own successful businesses.

If you have considered starting your own business but never taken the leap, then here are a few books that I would recommend that you read:

  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad 2 – The Cashflow Quadrant
  • The E-myth Revisited

Having your own business is not without risk and surveys consistently show that 9 out of 10 start-up businesses fail within the first two years. One of the reasons people look to franchised businesses is because 9 out of 10 them not only succeed, but are profitable after two years.

I, however, did not choose franchising as the arena in which to start my first business. In fact, I didn’t even realise it was a choice because I thought only fast food businesses were franchises. I had no idea how diverse the range of businesses covered by the tried, tested and proven franchise model could be.

My first business was started with a partner and we used to build high and low ropes courses. They are very common these days, with the likes of Go Ape and Center Parcs having them, but back in the mid 1990s they were as rare as vegetarian snow tigers!

With a lot of hard work, and the right product in the right place at the right time, we experienced substantial growth over the seven years that followed. We were the European market leaders, employing 60 staff and operating in 15 countries. And on paper I was a millionaire!

Life was great. Lucy and I had a new baby on the way, a stunning six bedroom house overlooking the sea and a lifestyle that many people would aspire to.

But then it all came crashing down around me shortly after the terror attacks of September 11th 2001. The financial downturn that followed, combined with the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, had a devastating impact on me and my financial circumstances.

Find out how this experience turned out to be the best worst experience of my life in the next instalment ofAn Entrepreneur’s Tale of Two Decades – Part 2.

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