What happens when lifelong best friends go into business together? We caught up with Sudheer from Limitless Monks to find out all about their unique approach to helping people get their mindset right in property development.
1 – On your About Page you state something that seemed appropriate to start this conversation with: “Truth: Unless you discover yourself you don’t have a business”. This might be one of the reasons why soft skills are currently so valued in business schools. How did the lack of those skills impact your first business that failed?
The first businesses which we individually did between myself (Sudheer) and my business partner (Ravi) were IT Outsourcing and Share Trading.
The issue was doing this as a business with family and friends. This requires a certain personality where a person can handle issues with family members and friends assertively when milestones are not met.
So we needed to be ready as that personality before we started the business.
When we built a team, we had to ensure our values and what we stand for aligned with the team we are building as well. Specifically when we are into outsourcing of IT projects.
We sure built a team but out of enthusiasm to build a business than align the vision and values.
The right thing to do was start small and evolve the business. However, if you take the mindset of ours at that point (a decade ago), we had the end game in mind and not the evolution.
In other words, instead of growing incrementally, we were trying to do everything now i.e. trying to peak right at the start.
Those are the key soft skills we understood from the closedown of our first business and it helped massively to incrementally grow our subsequent businesses the right way.
2 – You grew your portfolio from 0 to 12 properties in 14 months. This is an impressive record and we are sure you learned immensely during those months. Would you like to share the 3 main takeaways from that incredible record?
Always have a mental map of where you want to get or what you want to achieve in a year’s time and have high-level milestones in a trackable format.
Something like a visual roadmap that you can stick on your desk radiating your goals on a daily basis.
When you define such a roadmap or milestones, give yourself a stretch target and not just what you can comfortably achieve.
Consistency in what you do every day beats intelligence.
If we have to talk about building a portfolio, then there are only two things that need to be done consistently.
- Property Viewings
- Ability To Raise Funds
They are pretty much the heartbeat of an investor. If you do them consistently each week or a fortnight, it isn’t that difficult to build a buy-to-let portfolio.
The simple facts are, to be able to raise funds you will have to network with people and talk about your journey. To create deals, you need to view properties.
The moment you fail to do either or lose that consistency you tend to lose momentum and hence unable to build your portfolio.
Ensure you build enough support around you who can help you source and refurb properties.
Buying a number of properties isn’t an issue but the exhaustion it can cause and pressure that can create is a killer for sure.
After buying a third or a fourth one, you have multiple refurbishments going with a pressure to secure your next deal as well. Unless you have an able support team around one will probably struggle or give in to exhaustion.
3 – Is it then fair to say that Limitless Monks is born from the need to log your experiences for future referral?
Limitless Monks is born out of our belief that be it your business or personal life, any limiting beliefs one has can be overcome through self-discipline and ownership. The word ‘monks’ represents the self-discipline.
It is fair to say that Limitless Monks as a “blog” consists of a log of our experiences for our own future referral and for the benefit of our clients and community.
There are at least 50 times in this year alone where we sent the blog posts as references on how to do things in property. This was in response to questions we get asked on instant messaging channels.
We always knew that we will be building Limitless Monks as an ethical property and personal development business that will help to incrementally build our clients businesses and brand.
Building our own business, we have created a small incremental growth framework that we take our clients through, building themselves along with their business.
4 – As far as we could see, you have gathered an enormous amount of valuable resources on your website that will help people with their own investments. Aren’t you afraid of some competition for the best properties or the best locations?
As I mentioned before, unless you discover yourself you don’t have a business.
If someone wants to compete with us, they need to beat us at who we are. If they become who we are, they don’t have a business that represents them.
Does this sound familiar in the property world right now? People moving from one strategy to another in the pursuit of financial freedom?
The reason why few are chasing strategy after strategy is, they are trying hard to follow others who have done it, not understanding a few basic elements. The one for whom a strategy worked has support/funding/time/knowledge systems that are suitable for that strategy. If you don’t have access to the same things, chances are you will end up moving to the next strategy.
We believe in abundance. There are enough deals anywhere you invest for everyone who wants to invest as long as you look for one.
If someone is really following our blog and developing themselves and trying to compete with us or anyone, that only makes me and my business partner the ones leading with vision and action.
On a lighter note, it’s a credit we are happy to take :).
5 – What are the biggest success stories from your community, where their investments became successful with the help of your resources?
In all honesty, we don’t think that by just reading the blog one can just implement things and become successful. It sure is a guide for someone who cannot afford property education but have the desire to build their portfolio.
Having said that, people who referred our blog often reach out to us to request one to one mentoring which sure has made some success stories.
One client has had 3 property offers accepted in a span of few months which he/she went on to source to other investors making good money.
Another client of ours has saved about £40,000 within one of their London investment understanding the rules around stamp duty and negotiating with the sellers.
A third client of ours completely changed his mindset towards how to objectively look into his restaurant business and partnerships, personal relationships with family and friends.
That led to inner happiness and peacemaking the person to be able to exploit his full potential to build his portfolio and overcome his limiting beliefs in process.
6 – When you are looking for a property, what is the first thing you need to know about it?
As an investor, we always define our target market to whom we are building our portfolio or a part of a portfolio.
So the first thing we would like to know about is whether the property is going to serve our target market or the tenant profile.
If it does, that is when we look into the fitment into our investment strategy and what we call the “Deal Profile”. Deal profile meaning the combination of Cashflow/ROI/Money Left In The Deal.
7 – What is more challenging for you and what gives you more pleasure? Property sourcing or property management?
Property sourcing is more challenging given there are number of ways in which a deal can materialize.
Secondly, we always believe that property is not just an exchange of transactions and instead property is people business. Sourcing is a way to get creative and find those solutions to problems which otherwise people would not be able to see.
Given it has a lot of challenges, it is more pleasure as well. If I have to personalize this, it’s more fun for me and my business partner who visit our investment area every fortnight in search of deals.
In that process, we debate/meet people/hone our Bollywood singing skills in the car/make friends on our 400 mile round trip. You get the picture.
Property Management has its own challenges but given these are addressed by skilled tradesmen including Letting agents or builders we are little less involved.
Where it gets interesting is when we define metrics to measure the portfolio and assess the cashflow/profits each month.
8 – What are the “hot” areas in the UK right now, where it is smart to invest?
If we forget for a while on the routine growth areas like Manchester/Liverpool/Hull/London which we know there are significant investments happening, we would put our money on the below upcoming areas.
Croydon is a hot area given that there is a £1.4 billion of investment approved to construct Westfield and refurbish the high street area.
A city which is rich when it comes to transport links including the tram network and well connected to London (about 16 minutes). We have invested ourselves here.
IBM choosing to locate their offices, £100 million investment about to kick off to become part of European space research and investment backed by Amazon, Airbus, HP and other big players.
The city is known for universities and sports clubs already giving it the edge.
£1.2 billion worth of Bolton regeneration master plan including town centre regeneration, build 2000+ new houses and over 7000 jobs created boosting the economy by £4+ billion.
The fact that this is between Manchester and Liverpool suggests that when these cities grow, cities like Bolton/Wigan will become a residential hub for the workforce.
Those are just 3 areas to name and probably ones we would think is smart to invest right now to be able to see both capital appreciation and increased cashflow next few years.
9 – From your portfolio, can you tell us a story from any property that was especially hard to get and how you overcame that barrier?
When someone asks us this question, our minds straight away go to our very first buy-to-let property.
Given we were start-up investors at that time, we faced a number of challenges both due to lack of experience and knowledge.
The challenges include just to name a few:
- A builder taking £7000 of our money and doing a runner which we had to accept as loss and come up with innovative ways to overcome the loss.
- An unknown realization that on a Limited Company there is no lender who would lend a mortgage forcing us to raise capital overnight to be able to do the deal.
- Post refurbishment by a different builder, having to deal with dark dead flies in the bedrooms which we found in later investigation coming from a poisoned dead rat.
We always said investing as a pair helps. We played to our strengths of using the solution mindset than questioning why this could happen to us or blame others.
The biggest lesson we learnt and implemented to complete the deal successfully was “Acceptance” of the fact that unless we go through that pain, we don’t have a business.
10 – Finally, do you see the property investment opportunity growing in the foreseeable future or should we expect some slowing down or even a real estate crisis?
We expect the property industry to slow down in next few years not just because of the BREXIT effect but also the kick in of regulatory changes introduced by the government, including Section 24/Tenant Fee Ban/EPC ratings and others.
Secondly, there are too many creative strategies like Rent to Rent (R2R), R2SA, HMO and others which we think will be regulated very soon. This probably will lead to investors losing their hard-earned money.
Thirdly, the temporary impact due to BREXIT in whatever scale will slowdown the investments.
We don’t expect a Real estate crisis as such for now.
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