I spent twenty-five years climbing the corporate ladder. Despite loving my company, I decided to jump ship and swap my corporate life to fulfil a desire before it is too late: building a small enterprise with people I love to be with. I started evaluating business ideas three years ago and developed the habit of tapping my notes in my phone during my morning and evening commute. In the first six months, I finished reading twenty books, evaluated fifteen-plus business ideas, reviewed more than 3,000 diagrams and graphs and keyed 30,000+ words into my iPhone. Eventually, over two and a half years, I finished with more than 50 books,5,000+ diagrams and wrote over 80,000 words.
In another post, I mentioned that I had written a book using some of the 80,000 words. The idea came after a conversation with a good friend. Andrew is a lawyer. I mention his profession only because he told me about his friend: another lawyer, a guy who had already resigned from a high-rolling position as corporate Chief Legal Officer. His wife was a Chief Accountant, and she had also resigned from her firm. They were about to start a new company. Andrew had doubts about the merits of their plan. My friend was not a business person and was keen to hear my opinion. He told me that some friends had access to premium quality Spanish shoes through some old contacts, at better than the market rate. As go-to-market strategy they wanted to establish a shoe club marketed to young professionals. They chose this approach as they were without established connections to domestic shoe wholesale or retail.
So, what was my reaction? I was polite. I only pointed out the most obvious weaknesses of their business model. However, it made me think: those guys had decades of experience in working in big businesses. One was a lawyer, the other one was a finance professional. There must be a better way to jump ship than betting their life savings on a half-baked (and flawed) business idea. The following weekend, I did two things. First, I proved to myself I could come up with a better shoe startup idea by using the thought process I developed during my business career and studies. Then I started to organise my 80,000 words into a flow which ultimately became the structure of a book. On Monday, over another coffee, I said to Andrew, “By the way, I am writing a book about how to start new companies up”. He could not read my poker face. Even today he has no idea that our conversation about his friends’ plans triggered a series of actions on my part.
Although I never finished and published that book, writing it helped to crystalise my learnings and enabled me to prepare for the challenges of a small company. One must understand that jumping from a cruiser like BAT into a small boat (Recast Property Group Ltd) has its challenges. Large corporations have hundreds of scientists, thousands of marketers, engineers and salespeople. They have specialist resources to deal with details large and small. To succeed in a small company requires constant pushing, reorientation, repurposing, learning as well as unlearning some competencies picked up during a corporate career. I have experience in developing properties and I have valuable skills from my business career to repurpose; habits to keep and some habits to unlearn; tools and knowledge I picked up over a successful career and will continue using. Also, I am flexible and determined enough to go back to basics where needed.
Joining BAT 21 years ago was among the best three decisions of my life. I hope that leaving the company and starting a developer career will become my fourth-best decision. I love architecture, I am good in integrating diverse people into teams to tackle projects, and I strangely enjoy analysing and chasing deals. I am grateful to have a loving family, a few very close friends, and living in beautiful Surrey Hills is just total bliss. With my friend, former BAT colleague and now Business Partner Attila, we want to build a company that we will enjoy running for years to come, and we want to create developments that will provide a "share in the good life” for our families, future associates, investors, property buyers and tenants. I hope to help others and be supported by others on this journey.
Passion for property and desire for creating shared value. Challenges? Bring them on for the next twenty years!