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6 posts from January 2009

January 26, 2009

The importance of understanding contribution currency in 2009 ...


We went to an ecademy event in London last Thursday, and got massive value from it, so thought I would write a brief report*.

*Please note, I have no affiliate links or commission payments for new members to ecademy - its free to join anyway. I am just sharing in the spirit of reciprocity.

There were approx. 200 business owners there. The mood was very bouyant and positive with everyone I spoke to. The general opinion was that "this is what we have been waiting for" in terms of opportunity. WIth looming mass unemployment and the demise of those with a "serf" mentality (seeking a pay cheque at the end of each month), now is the time for small businesses and entrepreneurs to flourish.

Ecademy founder, Penny Power, gave a very inspiring speech about how business is changing, and moving on-line. She talked about how businesses and individuals will be judged in future on their "contribution currency" - in other words, how much value they add to other people's businesses, and their track record of doing so. The internet is making everything far more transparent.

On one hand, black hat tactics, scams, deceit and misdirection are far easier than ever to imagine and to scale. There are certainly people quietly banking millions as they lie and cheat their way forwards.

On the other hand, there's far bigger growth associated with transparency. When your Facebook profile shows years of real connections and outreach and help for your friends, it's a lot more likely you'll get that great job.

When your customer service policies delight rather than enrage, word of mouth more than pays your costs. When past investors blog about how successful and ethical you were, it's a lot easier to attract new investors.

The Net enlarges the public sphere and shrinks the private one. And black hats require the private sphere to exist and thrive. More light = more success for the ethical players.

In a competitive world, then, one with increasing light, the way to win is not to shave more corners or hide more behavior, because you're going against the grain, fighting the tide of increasing light. In fact, the opposite is true. Individuals and organizations that can compete on generosity and fairness repeatedly defeat those that only do it grudgingly.

Business networking can help increase your on-line profile and visibility, and therefore create trust.

It costs you nothing more than your time.

People can write testimonials for your services and you can start to build up an on-line profile of being an ethical trader. I believe that this is something that will become increasingly important in the years to come, so it is something you might like to consider, if you are not already doing it.

'The main speaker was Nigel Risner who gave an inspiring talk about setting goals and sticking to them. I really enjoyed his presentation - no "ra ra" - just really strong and challenging ideas of how to challenge yourself and your business on a daily basis. One of the most powerful things I got from this is something that we have been doing since the beginning of our portfolio but never (until now) put it into words. And that’s understanding the importance of routine. I have rattled on in the past about how important management is over acquisition but this gave it a more permanent title ... Routine.

Buying property takes but a few weeks. However, pre and post acquisition is the routine that can last for 25 years!. But routine is dull and to keep it from being tedious is where you can bank "contribution currency". I thoroughly enjoy contributing to "the pot" and in return I get to learn more and make solid and deeper business clients and relationships.

In conclusion, I found this meeting gave me a real kick start to 2009 and I met several positive and dynamic people who will contribute to my knowledge and success.

You can connect with me on edacemy here.

If you want to know more about ecademy, we have an interview with Penny Power here.*

nick and penny 


Register here for our next event on the 8th February 2009.

January 22, 2009

Trust is the scarcest resource we have …

Trust is the scarcest resource there is. The flip side of that is that with scarcity comes value.

I think scarcity in our (property) world can be encapsulated in one simple phrase. "Ethical trading".

With the news every week of another property "club" or "scheme" going bust (the latest one being Challenor Properties who are being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office - click here -, you want to know who you can trust in this business.

When looking to engage with a company, one of the most important things you can look for is consistency of their message.

But if that message is constantly preaching "get rich quick", "no money required", "takes no effort", then the question you must ask yourself, especially in the current market conditions, is "why are you selling the six numbers to the lottery?".

If you genuinely had the answer to a get rich quick scheme, would you tell anybody else, and more importantly, why would you need to?

Therefore, it's not hard to conclude that the message you should trust is that property is not a get rich quick scheme, that it does require capital input, it's a long term investment, and that effort and management are required. Especially when that message has been consistent over several years. It might not be what you want to hear, but it's the truth. You have the choice of buying into marketing hype or reality. Ironically, being sucked in by marketing hype will end up costing you a lot more than the reality, and not just in terms of money.

Unfortunately, in the property arena, reality is the scarcity.

In our opinion, when you buy into marketing hype and promises of easy riches, you will .... pay large fees upfront, be persuaded join some kind of club for access to "exclusive" deals (more upfront payments), promised some kind of "secret" that never materialises, pay for information that can easily be found on the internet, pay to be sold to.

However, when you seek out the truth and work with ethical people you trust, you get real value and real and tangible results.

Example: Apple. For years they have traded on one consistent message, that design and function were part of the primary core of aesethics - not fluff and fancy. Although they have their fair share of hard core followers, they were by no means a market leader through the '90's. However, due to their on-going consistent message of function over fashion, they now have a world-wide and growing band of followers. Marketeers soon come unstuck when people realise that their "fluff and fancy" does not deliver tangible results. You don't need to market form and function, because it just works.

Our message at 4Walls for the past five years has been very consistent. Cash flow is king - always has been and always will be. Property is not a get rich quick scheme. It is not something that takes no effort on your behalf. And yes, you do need significant liquidity to invest in property legitimately without the use of "smoke and mirrors" in a NMD format. On our website, you won't find dreamy pictures of yachts, fast cars, and couples walking hand in hand down a beach. You won't find any "emotional" hooks to appeal to your greed and make you think you'll be retiring in three years. You won't find any promises that you don't need to lift a finger. Far from it.

What you will find are facts and property intelligence that you can actually use. You will find out why we are successful as Landlords. You will find out why and how we have built a portfolio based on cash-flow. You will find out how we have diversified our portfolio to spread risk. You will find out how we run our business and portfolio in the most efficient manner possible. You will find out why it is so important to review your portfolio on a consistent basis. You will find out why there is more opportunity in property now, than in recent history.

If you want us help you build a cash flow rich portfolio, we will do. But we won't charge you any fees upfront, as we believe we should only be paid on the actual results we achieve for our clients. We won't try and wholesale you property, because it can't be done, unless you're a blue chip builder like Barratts or Persimmon. Property is not a case of "one size fits all", it's extremely personal to you and your financial situation. Accordingly, our service is personal and bespoke too.

We have been consistently operating in an ethical manner for the past five years. 2008 ended on a high note for us. We completed on three clients' purchases on the 19th December. All three clients got a genuine 28% discount (using actual comparables). All three clients had tenants move into their properties before Christmas, with positive cash flow from the rent.

Because we have been consistently involved in purchasing cash-flow positive properties for the past five years for ourselves, and we live and breathe property 24/7/365, you can leverage our knowledge and time. We sift through masses of information on a daily basis, and distil it down to the bits that matter. The result is the 4 Walls website and video channel, which is why you should consistently tune in.

If you'd like to find out how we purchase property, or find out more about what we do, then join our next property networking event, scheduled for Sunday the 8th of February in Guildford. At our events we have consistently offered investors massive value. There's no hard sell, and no presentations that are thinly veiled sales pitches. There's no hype and "ra-ra", only hardcore property intelligence and information that could make a very real difference to your investment strategy. You'll meet other like-minded investors, who will share their knowledge and experience with you, and take pleasure in doing so.

So, as 2009 kicks off, you have the choice to engage with marketing hype, or real investors delivering real results. We look forward to meeting you are our event on Sunday 8th February and supporting you in achieving your property ambitions - in whatever format YOU choose.

Some things you might like to note:

We are not a property club - we aim to provide free resources to investors and foster change within property investment. Our website is part of a greater movement within property. 4Walls exists to spread specific ideas and ethical investing practices. The more people we can spread these ideas to, the more success we achieve.

We are not building a list of subscribers to sell to - we are building a cult of supporters, each of whom will further support the cause and bring further success to all of us through the momentum of the group.

Ball bearing v's beachball ...

4Walls wishes to remain a ball bearing - small, hard to find and continually in the state of being polished. Our goal is to provide our clients with massive value at every interaction, and with a deep impression when they get hit with it. Conversely, we do not aim to be a beach ball - big, seen all over the place, colourful and yet leaving very little impression when it hits. A beach ball is very fragile indeed and must avoid challenging environments, because it requires so much air to keep it afloat. A weighty ball bearing can withstand both challenging environments along with the pin pricks of adversity. So can a well-constructed, cash-flow rich property portfolio.

So, as 2009 kicks off, you have the choice to engage with marketing hype, or real investors delivering real results. We look forward to meeting you are our event on Sunday 8th February and supporting you in achieving your property ambitions - in whatever format YOU choose.

Register your seat at our event by emailing registration@4wallsandaceiling.com.

By TwitterButtons.com

January 19, 2009

Accept the past in your future ... don't let it dictate your future.

I was sent this by a friend of mine Barbara Gwyer, she knows I'm a Mac man and an advocate of Steve Jobs. It's a short video of Steve giving a presentation to Stanford University, he speaks about 3 points of which there is a lot of power.

Drawing from some of the most pivotal points in his life, Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams.

Well worth the watch ...

Thanks Barabra


January 13, 2009

Greetings from Cyprus...

Hi-all we're chillin' 

in Cyprus at the moment (click here to go to some pics).
We've just found out some fantastic news regarding Cyprus and the Larnaca area ... watch this space we will be doing a mail out very soon.

Mazatos sunset piq 500
... without fail I come home wanting to stay here, but then it's hardly suprising not only for the climate but for the business opportunities.

January 05, 2009

2009 – the year of the property guru – YOU!

happy new year 2009

2009 – the year of the property guru – YOU!

Here at 4Walls, we are not too enamoured of New Year's. Faux merriment, excessive drinking, ridiculous resolutions and general malaise. Not to mention the morning after!

There's one great opportunity, though... Brand new expectations are set, expectations just waiting to be shattered.

Like an empty Moleskin notebook, the possibilities are exciting. Why not exceed them?

The place where expectations are lowest: leadership. Everyone expects you to get in line and follow, not lead.

The opportunity this year is bigger than ever: to lead change, to create a movement in a direction you want to go. While the rest of your world huddles and holds back, here's a golden chance to use cheap media, available attention and great talent to make something that matters.

It's the year to find your own "space". What works for you and your goals, and not the sales organisation.

2009 is the year for MASSIVE change and growth. The year that you stop relying on third parties, and step up to the plate to take responsibility for your decisions. In other words, become your own property guru!

2009 is the year when ...

Business, as we know it, changes. More on-line than off-line. Social and business networking will take over from "board meetings" and "hanging around the water cooler" and fosters trust in on-line communities.

Investing in property, as we know it, changes. Instead of being a "hobby", it becomes a business.

The way we operate as consumers changes. The internet will take over from the High Street.

Networking changes. It's more important now than ever as more and more people start operating in Web 2.0 mentality.

We started preparing for the “credit crunch” in summer 2007, I found this blog I wrote in July 2007 that gave me the insight - click here – it’s wasn’t rocket science to see what was going to happen. Likewise we started preparing for 2009 in summer 2008.

Here are our thoughts on 2009:

  • Interest rates stay low.
  • Better mortgages appear third quarter of 2009.
  • Lending criteria eases third quarter of 2009.
  • Following a transition period, when current glut of rental properties are used up, rents start to rise.
  • Developers "mothball" developments and focus on banking land. This leads to new build at a premium as they control the supply.
  • People choose to stay in homes they might have sold in better market conditions. Increase in home improvements, extensions, loft conversions etc. (more work for builders!).
  • Increase in popularity of room rents in multi-lets, HMO's and house shares.
  • U.K. holiday lets have bumper years as families choose to holiday at home due to the credit crunch, and strength of the Euro.
  • Countries in the Eurozone suffer to a degree, but still appeal to those that want to holiday abroad, as they are within the cheap flight tax zone. Long haul investment destinations suffer as people choose not to fly due to the credit crunch.
  • Mortgage brokers (as we know them) disappear.
  • Estate agents (as we know them) disappear. More estate agents turn their offices over to lettings agencies.
  • Increase in repossessions of amateur BTLetters who have purchased in the past five years, without cashflow.
  • Property clubs, NMD schemes and deal packagers go bust taking lots of peoples' money with them. The signs are already there. (This is why anyone should be wary of paying large sums of money upfront with no tangible result or guarantees).
  • The death of the "armchair investor". Thank goodness! (It never ceases to amaze me that this phrase was used and adhered to, how can anyone put their name to potentially millions of £’s and let someone else deal with it … most of the time they had never met before!!!)
  • Lots of international developments not even started, let alone finished. Lots of small international developers go bust and people lose money. (Most of these will be in tertiary markets where the capital up-lift was sold, not the marketing capability)
  • Terrorism and violent crime have negative impact on investment destinations i.e. Turkey, Brazil, Etc.
  • Lots of people made redundant. Increase in people starting their own businesses. Entreprenuers flourish. (THIS IS IMPORTANT AS THIS HEARALDS WEB 2.0 INTO THE MAINSTREAM).
  • The way business is done changes dramatically. Transparency is everything. The internet reveals all. (WEB 2.0 AGAIN)
  • Wide and shallow business models fail. Narrow and deep business models prosper.
  • Property has to be treated and respected as a serious business.
  • Cash (and gold) is king! Cash flow is vital, no matter how wealthy you are.

Remember, when currencies fail, the world reverts to gold, also everyone needs a roof over their head.

However, the one abiding thing that remains consistent in our message to you for 2009 is "cash flow is king". Always has been, and always will be!

Strap on your seat-belt, it's going to be a challenging, but ultimately fulfilling ride for those who remain committed!

Happy New Year and we look forward to making new business relationships, new ventures, and new friends in 2009. We are also committed to supporting as many people as possible in achieving their property goals in 2009.

Stay in touch, and you can always find me on facebook, ecademy, social median, friendfeed etc

P.S Tip of the hat to Seth Godin for continued inspiration.

January 03, 2009

Happy New Year...

I know it's a bit belated, but I was dying from "man flu"... followed by running the batteries down on my radio controlled helicopters!!!

Most of my life I have approached the new year stating "this is the one for me" hoping for a sudden change overnight. However, there has been a subtle change in my thinking.

My resolution for 2009 started in June 2008 and the build-up has been excruciating ... much like a child the night before Christmas.

2009, the year for massive change.

I hope you all share my excitement, here's to a belter.