Our Managing Director Denzel sat down with PropertyTribes to discuss life as a young entrepreneur in the property sector, lessons learned, and stepping up when things hit the proverbial fan. Watch the video below or read the full transcript.
Welcome back my name’s Chris Buckler and I am running Young Entrepreneurs Week on behalf of PropertyTribes by Keller Williams. I’m really fortunate to have Denzel with me here today – Denzel thanks for joining me.
Thank you very much Chris.
Can you give me an overview of your business?
Like-Minded Living aims to provide a place to live for young professionals that are moving to London. This includes finding the right place to live and also the right people, hence the name Like-Minded Living.
What got you into property? What attracts you to the sector?
I grew up in property – property is everywhere you go, it’s here there and everywhere, and I think I became infatuated with it after I left University. I saw that there’s an opportunity in the market and I pretty much took it with both hands.
You’ve grown your businesses to three members of staff now, so one of the themes we’ve touched on in the previous videos is taking on staff – can you talk me through the challenges of taking on staff and what you’ve learned?
Taking on staff sometimes means that they’re going to have to earn a wage whilst you don’t, but one of the most rewarding things is that they’re not only there to help your business, they’re also there to help you grow as well, so it’s a two-way process and now that the business has stabilised, it’s been a rewarding and challenging experience.
What do you think young people bring to the property sector?
I think what we bring is the attitude or fearlessness; we quite literally don’t take “no” as an answer and, if you do say no, that translates to “I’ll find another way of getting it done”. That sort of tenacity and never giving up is what young people bring to the market and it’s quite refreshing.
I think that’s an underlying theme of the videos we’ve recorded so far; if young entrepreneurs getting there just keep on going and keep pushing. What helped you the most over your journey of the past couple years?
It has a lot to do with having a good support system. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have a VC or private investor backing you; a good support system can be something as simple having good friends and family. When ‘stuff hits the fan’ these are the moments which are truly telling, because I believe how successful you become is about how well supported you are, and how much you can persevere through the difficult times by getting support from your family members.
Can you maybe deep dive into that? Tell me about a time where stuff hit the fan, didn’t go to plan, and you had to lean on someone.
For me growing up as a young boy, if you ever had a problem you would go to your parents and say “Mum, Dad, this is happening at school, this is happening University, what do I do, what’s the plan, what’s next?”
When you’re in the industry the biggest difference that I found is that there isn’t a Mum and Dad card, quite literally if things are going in a certain direction your lawyer becomes your parent, he now has to sort that out for you, and nothing just goes away as if by magic.
When I was in the moment finding out that some things weren’t as perfect as they seemed, my family were there for me not only from a business perspective, but also in a personal way. Everything to happen to us in business also provides lessons that can be applied on a personal level, so I think in that situation that’s why my family came in to help me.
I presume you work quite a large number of hours – how do you make sure you keep in contact with friends and family to keep that support network alive?
For the first two years you just have to accept that friends and family are not really going to be a big part of your life, and the sooner you accept that the easier it becomes for everyone, because a lot of times I say to my friends “look, for the next three or four weeks it’s peak accommodation season, I need to get my head down and focus”. So it’s now more of a cyclical thing – when business is not so busy then I’ll catch up with my friends, but when it’s peak season we have to have to get to work and get busy.
As a young entrepreneur, then, if you want to make it you’ve got to make sacrifices?
Sacrifices are just the minimum thing you have to accept. You have to make multiple sacrifices but then, when you get the reward, it’s fantastic.
Talk to me a little bit about the reward, and the feeling of when a deal comes in, or when you hit a certain milestone as a young person what does that mean to you?
It’s quite surreal because, if I go back to my office and I see other offices next to us, it’s an older age group and then you have to look yourself in the mirror and say “is this really what’s happening? I thought about this in my bedroom and here I am today in our office”. So as a young person, every day you almost have to pinch yourself and realise yes, this is happening and yes, you do have to step up to the plate and yes, you do have to mature. It’s a humbling experience.
How long did it take you to move from the bedroom to an office?
We were a slow burner. We did rent to rent to begin with, meaning high capital expenditure, and we found that your growth rate is limited to how much capital you have available. Now that we’ve switched to an estate agency-based business, we moved into an office in Shoreditch at the end of 2017, and then moved to Putney, so it took us about a year and a half to two years. As I say, even if it seems slow for anyone else, that’s just where your company is at the time and you have to just accept that, move on, and make steps to get to where you want to be. Everybody has their time.
What advice would you give to any entrepreneurs watching this, in terms of you’ve got no mum and dad telling you what to do, but you have to develop as an individual? So if you get onto the corporate ladder you might do some accounting, or be a lawyer, so you’ve got that path mapped out for you. But as an entrepreneur you don’t, so how do you how do you evolve as an individual?
My first core mantra for evolution is acceptance. The minute that you can start to accept your situation, whether it’s a family at home or a business or grades, is the minute that you can actually start to grow personally. When you can accept and understand “this is where I am right now, and this is where I want to be,” every day has its pros and cons – accepting the cons provides ways in which to learn, and the pros are the rewards of the challenges. Once you have that sort of mindset it allows you to go through the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship in a healthier state of mind.
You seem like a guy that’s quite into mindfulness and evolving; if you could give a tip for any young entrepreneurs, whether it’s daily habits, recording gratitude, something along those lines, what would that be?
Find something that will humble you. Find something that reminds you exactly who you are and where you came from. Something that we like to do is get involved with food banks, working with them on organising meals and that sort of thing. When you experience all sorts of events truly you understand that the work that you’re doing is great, but this is where I really should be trying to make a difference and trying to help, and it does help to humble you then you can go into your next challenge without overly high expectations because you know exactly where you came from.
Thanks so much for joining us.