How I went from teaching to owning a 28 room property portfolio!
I graduated in business studies and not really having a clear plan I decided to follow everyone else and get a job in sales in London. I tried sales, marketing and recruitment work in London, but never seemed to find the fulfillment I was looking for.
After a couple of years, I decided there had to be more to life and booked a round-the-world ticket and a working holiday visa for Australia. I funded the trip mainly on an Egg credit card and doing all manner of jobs in Sydney. The working holiday visa ran out, traveling back home through Thailand, I decided that I wanted more fulfillment and flexibility, so I decided to train to be a teacher, I have to admit I loved the idea of the school holidays!
At first, I loved my job teaching 16 to 19-year-olds business in an inner London college. Then I got promoted to management and started to spend more time on bureaucracy and administration, the workload increased, holidays got to cut back and the pay pretty much stayed the same!
I carried on in my job as a teacher until I had my children. Then, everything changed for me. I became less tolerant of working long hours for low pay as I wanted to be more present as a parent. I started to question the real value of what I was being paid for my time.
My husband worked long hours in banking. So, childcare was 100 percent my responsibility. And whilst, I loved teaching, I hated the system. And, resented having to pay out pretty much all of my earnings to someone else in childcare. It just didn’t make sense to me!
I knew that if I was going to change my career and start in business, it had to be something I am passionate about. I tried a range of businesses, but it always came back to one thing – PROPERTY!
I always had a bit of an obsession with property ever since I did a geography project on urban development at school. In the evenings after work, I used to window shop on Rightmove. I’d always had lots of ideas about investing, but never really taken action because I lacked confidence and self-belief.
In 2006, I became an accidental landlord when the sale of our flat fell through. We then acquired some more buy-to-lets shortly after that. I began to realise that the property could be the perfect solution, but I didn’t really know how to get started.
I was already managing our buy-to-lets when I was at home with the children, so I decided to set up a letting and managing agent. I had not considered investing further as I hadn’t worked on my mindset and I thought managing property for other people was much less risky!.
In my lettings business, I always felt like I was missing something, I could see the income that my clients were getting, but something was holding me back from investing myself. I heard that property investment was the route to financial freedom, but I just couldn’t see the wood for the trees and didn’t know where to start.
As I listened at property networking and training, it dawned on me that it wasn’t so much about what I was learning, I just didn’t have the mindset I needed to become an investor! I learnt that my money beliefs were unconsciously sabotaging my success and I was experiencing a lot of “imposter syndrome”. Once I’d worked with a coach to overcome my limiting beliefs, I was able to take opportunities right in front of me that I’d not been able to see before!
I used to lack self-belief so I’d feel constantly caught between chasing the next online course shiny penny and almost everyone else telling me that property is too risky. The truth is that you can reap great rewards in property, but it almost always takes time. So, avoiding distractions along the way and staying accountable is the key!
I went on quite a few courses, in the end. I decided to focus on room lets or HMOs. I knew that I needed to see income quickly to give myself the time freedom to be with my children. I also wanted capital growth, to build up a pension pot and assets to hand down. My strategy was to purchase 3- and 4-bed houses, convert to 5- and 6-bed HMOs (room lets) and then, refinancing to raise equity for the next deal.
I found that I had a lot of transferable skills from my previous career and that managing tenant is similar in many ways to teaching 16- to 19-year olds!
To scale, I decided to work with joint venture partners. A further two 6-bed HMOs later and I now have 28 rooms and am involved with some exciting development projects!
I know how hard it can be to stay focused and take action in property! I studied for the Coaching Diploma with Noble Manhattan and the NLP Master Practitioner. Coaching has given me the confidence to move forward through all the setbacks to create the financial freedom I needed to be with my children.
Now I love helping others, stop procrastinating, and got from learning to earning. Both through start-up coaching and Amberstone Property as an investor or joint venture partner.
I’m still learning myself and see it as a life long process, I’m currently working on a business coaching programme with Lisa Johnson and a property mastermind with Nicole Bremner. It’s so inspiring to see what these ladies have achieved!
In 2006 I became an accidental landlord, when the sale of our flat fell through, we then acquired some more buy to lets shortly after that. I began to realise that property could be the perfect solution, but I didn’t really know how to get started. I was already managing our buy to lets when I was at home with the children, so I decided to set up a letting and managing agent. I’d not really considered investing further as I hadn’t worked on my mindset and I thought managing property for other people was much less risky!.
In my lettings business I always felt like I was missing something, I could see the income that my clients were getting, but something was holding me back from investing myself. I heard that property investment was the route to financial freedom, but I just didn’t know where to start.
As I listened at property networking and training, it dawned on me that It wasn’t so much about what I was learning, I just didn’t have the mindset I needed to become an investor! I learnt that my money beliefs were unconsciously sabotaging my success and I was experiencing a lot of “imposter syndrome”. Once I’d worked with a coach to overcome my limiting beliefs, I was able to take opportunities right in front of me that I’d not been able to see before!
That’s what I’ve come to realise, that in order to have something that no-one else you have do to something that no-one else is prepared to do. Not taking that risk actually runs the risk of living a whole life not knowing what you could have been.
Although I’ve always said I’m not motivated by money, I knew deep down that I wanted freedom, for myself and my family and it’s very hard to have freedom without financial freedom. Getting paid from investments, assets in the form of businesses you have created and leveraged out frees up your time to do the things that you really love and be with the people you want to spend time with.
This is the biggest gain for me in building a property portfolio, being able to replace my income at the height of my teaching career as a stressful team leader, whilst only working a few hours a week around being there for my children and studying personal development and NLP.
Although the money from my portfolio is great, the biggest thing that it has given me is freedom
Freedom to go on holiday without having to count the days allowance or check that someone else doesn’t want to go away at the same time
Just in the past year I’ve been to Thailand, Miami, French Alps skiing, Majorca, Portugal with friends
Freedom to work at home with a new puppy
Freedom to visit family and friends for coffee whenever I want without having to ask the boss for permission
Freedom to do the work where I want when I want
Freedom to stay at home with my kids when they are sick from school
Freedom from the stress Freedom to go on lots of holidays
Freedom to go to my kids plays and assemblies
Freedom to take my kids to work when they have to have a day off sick
Freedom from the boss who takes all the credit for your hard work
Freedom from the office politics, the moaning, the negativity
I now truly believe that things can be the same for you too, whatever your business and your passion, because the key ingredient that I was missing from studying business at university was not that you have to have some amazingly unusual business idea to be successful, but that you have to understand how to get leverage on your own time and by that I mean building a business that can run without you, not a business that becomes worse than a job as you are so burnt out by it that you don’t have any time for the things that you love.
I find now that as a coach I am able to help people and make a difference in their lives and the best thing for me is that the agenda is set by you as the client not by some government initiative forcing people to learn things that they aren’t interested in. I truly feel blessed to have been able to build my property business and want to help other mums get back in touch with what feeds their passion and make money along the way.
Recently, I got called back for extra checks after a Mammogram, this was terrifying for me as my mum died of breast cancer in her forties. I was able to know that if the worst happened then then at least I have built a property portfolio that will be able to support my children after I’m gone and I was so grateful that I took that risk in buying that first HMO property as now I know that if something happened to me that my family would still have the income from the portfolio. I say that I am not money motivated, but to me that knowledge is priceless and the knowledge that I am creating assets that can be passed down through generations. Through my property business I have been able to provide a flexible source of employment for other parents in the area and high quality homes that tenants want to come home to. I really believe now that money is energy that flows through people and that it’s not the evil thing that I once thought it was!