Some years ago I remember first offering my “Premium Workshops”. They were certainly an early prequel to the events we do today and my first ticket ever sold was too a brilliant budding Entrepreneur by the name of Anna Porter. She was 6 – 7 months pregnant at the time and it was an honour helping her in the early days of her business. Today she has staff, an amazing “Property Advisory” business helping people to Buy & Invest with Confidence. The amazing Jude Dowsett – Happiness and Success Mentor interviewed Anna Porter as to how she built such an amazing business. Here is to “Jude the Journalist” and her compelling interview!
Jude’s Interview Notes “Successful Entrepreneurs”:
It is great to be inspired by “Famous” people, but where I find the best inspiration is from the people I meet and get to know. We have amazing, inspiring stories right in our own backyards. As I have delved into the Networking world and have started developing great relationships with awesome Business people I have met along the way, getting to know these people I find out how they have come to be in the Business’s they are in, what drives them and how they keep going when the going gets tough.
The stories have been so inspirational I have started to ask these inspiring Business Owners to share their stories in the form of an Interview and then post them up for everyone else to be inspired.
I hope you all enjoy my “Successful Entrepreneurs’ ” Series as much as I have!
Mwah! X Jude
The Compelling Interview of Anna Porter:
Thanks for having me.
Jude: Thanks for doing this interview. So we are going to talk about how you are a successful entrepreneur. What is your business?
Anna: My business is called Suburbanite and we help buyers and investors and we work exclusively for buyers and investors in real estate transactions.
We don’t do any of the selling or any of the management, we help investors understand the strategy behind why they are investing and where and to get the right property that will perform for their portfolio and we help buyers by advocating for them in the purchase process, negotiating the best deal and just take away the stress of buying property. That’s it. It can be a stressful process.
Jude: With your investors are they mostly negative gearing or positive gearing or you just do it all?
Anna: Either or both. We don’t have a one size fits all strategy. We don’t just do positive properties, we don’t just do renovate for profit type thing. We look at the investors and match up the strategy to suit their needs across the whole range of strategies and then we help them either go out and do that themselves with our guidance or we do it by facilitating for them, so we have options at all different levels but every strategy is developed to suit that investors needs and goals.
Jude: Fantastic, ‘cause I know it can be a stressful process.
Anna: yes, yes it can be.
Jude: So you have some other people on board with you as well, don’t you?
Anna: yes I do. There is three full timers in the office at the moment, my two property advisors and the team co-ordinator who keeps me sane. She is fantastic. Outside of that I have consultants that work interstate as well, so that keis giving us reach across Brisbane down to Melbourne with our own team and then we also have some access to some consultants on an as needs basis as well but we have got people under the Suburbanite umbrella in Brisbane and in Melbourne and we haven’t officially launched that we are just laying all the groundwork for that at the moment.
Jude: That is so exciting. Congratulations. So when did you start your business Anna?
Anna: Only about 18 months ago maybe a little bit more than that, so still fairly new.
Jude: That’s amazing.
Anna: The growth has been exciting and a little overwhelming some days. You have to stop and pinch yourself and say ok how do I navigate this ship but it is pretty exciting to.
Jude: So what made you start your business:
Anna: My background is a property valuer and when I was vauleing I was doing a lot of work for the banks and also a lot of big portfolios so worked my way up that sort of corporate ladder and I was doing some really interesting work. I was doing things like Dept of Housing portfolio, I was doing RTA surplus land portfolio which is things like what is the median strip worth between two freeway lanes? Crazy stuff like that.
It was really interesting and in that work I also got to work on some private investors portfolios and that was interesting to see that they were getting really great advice, because they could afford it and they were building really good portfolios and making a lot of money and had all the team of advisors around them, that got them there. Then we looked into the market at the mum and dad investors, the first timer investors, the people that don’t have high net worth incomes weren’t getting that advice because it wasn’t affordable for them and there wasn’t really a solution out there for them and even buyers just buying a home to live in used to get no advice. IF they did it was from the selling agent and whilst there is a lot of great selling agents out there, that is their role, the selling agent. They are not working for the buyer they are working for the vendor. So the clients or the buyers would let the agent lead them through the process but it wasn’t necessarily in their best interest.
So we saw a big gap in the market and I saw a lot of people just getting really bad advice, getting ripped off, getting no advice. The property investment market is pretty unregulated at the moment which is a big shame because it really does open up the door for spruikers and sharks and what not, so having a valuation background I decided that that was a good skill set to offer that advice. It was the right background, the right qualification to really help investors and buyers coming from an ethical background, coming from an industry that was heavily regulated with a lot of standards and best practice processes, I wanted to bring that into the property investment industry and really open up the door that there were options available to people at all price points not with a starting price of $12,000 just to get advice. A starting price of $1,000 then incremental increases up to everyone’s budget and then obviously the advice and amount of work reflects what that fee is but we wanted options for people that they could get it affordingly and that’s where I decided to start the business.
Jude: oh fantastic. So having expanded so fast so quickly, what does success mean for you?
Anna: that’s a very good question. What does success mean to me? Look I am a bit of a dreamer, in terms of I have these really big ideas and these really big dreams and sometimes people think I’m crazy and I probably am. For me it’s building an empire. I want to be the household name, not me, I want my business to be the household name, I want my business to be the market leader. I want to be a company that everyone knows across Australia and sets the standards for the industry and then off the back of that run this business while I can facilitate things like having more time for my family, getting that juggling act right, being able to support my family financially, instill in my children the values I’ve grown up with around hard work and that sort of thing. To me that is growing my business to that point and having that flexibility down the track. Not saying it’s there everyday at the moment, I’m not going to lie it’s not a lot of life work balance at this stage but that is a long term goal that I can build such a great team that I work with that I can step back some days and that is probably a mid to long term goal.
Jude: That sounds great. So what has been the best thing about having your own business?
Anna: The best thing is I must say, is having the team around me that I have. I have a great team that I work with and I am really lucky that we have a great culture and every time we add someone new to the group it becomes a really good place to be. That’s been one of the best things about having that environment every single day and having really great people surrounding me, I think that has been one of the best things as well. Also having a bit of control of your schedule. I know some days it’s craziness and you are working really long hours, but other days if you need to nip off and do something you can nip off and do something and you have that control of your life and your schedule back a bit.
Actually just to revisit what you were saying about where did we start, it’s interesting I should probably add to that. When I wanted to start Suburbanite with in terms of helping buyers and investors, when I first started I didn’t know how to turn it into a business. So I did that a lot for free. I helped buyers and investors for free because I didn’t actually know how to market it. As I was saying I wanted to make it affordable but I wasn’t sure how to do that yet, how to make it profitable and affordable at the same time.
So I decided to start my business in a different area and it was a bit of a false start really. I started off helping people who were selling their property and doing property marketing and helping private sellers and doing that sort of thing while on the side I’m just doing this investing and buying stuff for free because really wasn’t sure how to charge for it. But I loved doing it and in the mean time my business was property marketing and at the end of the day my passion wasn’t in that. So I had this false start where I invested all this money into a business idea that I don’t think my passion was there. I think my passion for doing something in the industry that was innovative and changed a lot of things that in the industry was there but I didn’t have the right model to start with.
I got this fault start, wasted a lot of money, learnt a lot of lessons and then I figured out hold on how do I make this thing that I love, this thing on the side turn into an actual business.
Jude: Sometimes you don’t know, until you know. You just go out there think you are going to have one business until it morphs into something else.
Anna: Exactly and I think that is something interesting as well, for people who are starting out and finding it challenging, starting out in a business where you have to flog a dead horse you have to step back at some point and say is this working or is it not and if it’s not don’t take that as the end take that as an opportunity to reinvent yourself or reinvent your business and that’s exactly what I did. I had to stop, step back and say swallow your pride Anna, it’s not working but all in the meantime doing something I love and passionate about but I’m not actually charging money for it and I can see there is a gap in the market but I don’t know how to tap into that market but focus on that, reinvent the business figure out how to do it, don’t see this as the end, see it as the time for change.
Jude: And what was the turning point for that? How did you tweak and get that going?
Anna: Well I kept hemorrhaging money, that was one thing.
Jude: That’s a good motivator.
Anna: Yeah, it was when I started realising that I was doing something for free and not making money off the thing I was meant to be charging for and that’s when I stopped and said the original idea for doing something in this space has always been there I just didn’t know how to make it a business.
I need to make this my business.
I think I was reading a book or an article or something like that from one of the Richard Branson type people that said you have to get up everyday and do something you love, when you do that the money will come, the happiness will come, the joy will come, the success will come and I stopped and went that’s what I love, helping buyers and investors. That’s what I set out to do but I got lost in that and decided to go down a path where I was helping private sellers and it was not where my head was at but I thought there was more of a business there and that’s when I stopped and said it’s not about the business opportunity on it’s own, what is it that I love doing?, how do I make that my business?
Jude: I love that, that is so good. So if you could go back in time is there anything you would do differently?
Anna: That’s a perfect lead up into that question isn’t it? I’m glad I revisited that.
Look actually probably not. In some respects the mistakes were really important lessons to learn and when I did re-invent the business I did it in a much better way and I think if I hadn’t made those mistakes I would have made them with this business and it would have suffered a bit in some way.
Having said that though I probably would have taken more advice earlier on from the people around me, so the advisors like the business coaches and marketing people. I think I entered it probably a little dismissive of their advice because I had my vision in mind and I think some of them were trying to tell me all along that maybe I could have done things a bit differently so maybe something else I had to learn on my own too.
Anna: it would have been more cost effective if I hadn’t learnt that on my own but probably building the right team of advisors and listening to them a bit earlier on would have been a bit better approach to it, I could have changed that and meant that I would have woken up to that lesson sooner, because the sooner you can learn that the better.
There is not a whole lot I would have changed, I don’t think.
Jude: That leads into the next question. What pearls of wisdom would you like to give other business owners, either newbies or well established?
Anna: Yeah, definitely the team of advisors even if you have your own vision and goals, having that team to help you tailor that, tweak that, facilitate that is really important, so surround yourself with people that are, even if you are not paying for them, successful, people in business that you know use them as your mentors if they are happy to give you time and knowledge and then pay a little bit of money and get your right marketing people on board, your right coaches on board the right people that are going to help you set those goals. A good accountant is a huge thing in business you know, yeah bookkeepers all those sorts of things. So many people fuddle their way through and waste so much time and energy that someone else can do better, quicker and make you life easier.
I understand early in business, cash flow is an issue, sometimes sitting down and making a budget and saying here is something I am going to invest into my business to alleviate that for a while can be a really good way without necessarily sending yourself broke. It’s a balancing act. You have to invest into your business a little bit to make it work and then as well, probably paid marketing isn’t necessarily the way to go. I did bit of paid marketing early, actually that is something I would change, paid marketing. I put a lot of money into a lot of papers and they did nothing. In some business that will work, but in a lot of businesses it comes down to things like networking, strategic partnerships, meeting the right people and just getting out there and pounding the pavement. I think it is a more cost effective way of building your business and a more effective way to build your business. So that’s probably a really good tip to get out there and meet those business owners and build strategic relationships.
Pay down your business debt. If you are going to actually do a budget and invest money into your business put a plan in place to pay it down. Don’t let it sit there for five years because if you are going to have a business that you eventually want to sell it one day and you have a big debt you haven’t really built up an asses there have you? So you need to pay down that debt and you need to have a plan to pay down that debt so you are building up equity. So if you go through a tough time or want to go through expansion then you can leverage money to reinvest in the business rather than be drowning in debt, have your accountant on board with you every step of the way. Don’t ring him after you have done something, ring him before you’ve done something. He is a business advisor in himself right there, your accountant is one of your business advisors that needs to be your partner.
Jude: Love it, very good. So our last question is, is there anything significant that you would like to add?
Anna: Um, find your passion is a big one. That’s what I’ve learnt along the way. There will be days you are not so passionate about it, there will be days where you will want to not just get out of bed because your are tired and stressed.
Jude: And on that topic what do you do when you are tired and stressed, what do you do? How do you get through it?
Anna: yeah, look some days you stay in bed. Not very often, maybe once every six months but you know what I just need a mental health day and that just might be enough to say alright I’m ready to go again. When you have kids it doesn’t happen very often, but it might be a day when you and the kids sit in your pyjamas and watch movies all day and it might be enough to recharge and you do need that. You need a designated break day and again when you own your own business it might only be every six months but it is a really good day when it happens.
To keep motivated you, if it’s your passion it will be easier, if it’s something you really love it will be easier. You have to keep reminding yourself why you started in the first place. Stop thinking the grass is greener. Yes going back to corporate might be an option for you and it might be the right option for some people. You also need to remember the good and the bad, don’t just remember the good when you were in corporate, there is sacrifices there too so, you know, don’t just think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, because it may not be.
Sometimes just ringing another business owner and having a whinge is a huge one. I have a friend who is a business owner, we met through referral partners and now we have become advisors to each other, we’ve coached each other along the way and we might ring each other three or four times a week, my husband calls him my other husband, and it’s just ringing and saying “I am just having one of those days” and you just listen to each other and you re-motivate each other and you send each other a text message every now and then saying “get back in there”, “it will be fine” just having someone to bounce that off so it’s really important to align yourself with people and other business owners.
Sometimes it’s not about referring partners, sometimes it’s just about having those relationships that says you get what I’m feeling and I get how you’re feeling and we are going to hold each others hand and walk each other through this some days. That’s a big one.
Jude: Love it. That’s very cool. Thanks for participating Anna.
Edward’s Post Interview Notes:
Anna Porter is a legend – Google her and see her brilliant business in action!