Property Venture, Surrey-based overseas agents, we help people buy investment property and holiday homes abroad more easily than they can on their own.
My husband’s name is Mike Smith and we have a son of 10 years old and my daughter is 8 years old. We live in Weybridge, Surrey and our children go to the local state Primary School and we have just been through the process of trying to get our son into the local secondary school. Although we are in catchment for the nearest senior school and this is the one we want him to go to, we have nevertheless had to wait on the reserve list to get in. This was quite a shock for us, as we thought it was a done deal!
What did you do before coming up with your business idea?
I have always worked in marketing and sales roles, starting out in line marketing and sales in the drinks industry (what was then Seagram-although its brands are now with other drinks companies), I worked on brands such as Martell Cognac, Chivas Regal Whisky, Sandeman Port, and then on brands within the Remy Cointreau Group, such as: Krug Champagne, Charles Heidsieck Champagne. I also spent some time in Financial Services working at Nationwide Building Society on the mortgage and insurance portfolio. This gave an appreciation of and insight into, the financial services world, which helps today as I deal with Independent Financial Advisors and mortgage brokers.
I moved into management consultancy in 1994, working for a firm called Marketing Improvements, which eventually became part of RSM Robson Rhodes, which in turn became part of Grant Thornton. I worked on projects with clients like Aviva, Royal & Sun Alliance, Reckitt Benckiser, Heinz, London Stock Exchange, although some of the company names have changed since I worked with them. Life as a management consultant is very deadline-driven. I found this and a very rigid attitude to working life became very difficult with a young family.
So after 10 years of working in the City as a management consultant, I wanted to create something that was more on my own terms and pursue my interests. So I started out working in Overseas property to learn the ropes before creating my own company, Property Venture® to help people buy and sell abroad.
I have found that I have gone up a “learning cliff” rather than a “learning curve”, but having come from the school of thinking “Feel the Fear and do it Anyway”, I have kind of got on with it. I sometimes think if I knew how difficult it would be to establish a business at the time, I may never have started it!
Whilst I had lots of sales & marketing experience, it was more geared to big business rather than SMEs. I did not know about setting up a limited company, websites, SEO, Social Media and so on.
I did lots of research into the countries I wanted to be involved with: Spain, Cyprus, Morocco, Poland, Montenegro, which involved visiting the countries, meeting and selecting developer and agent partners I wanted to work with.
I was naïve to begin with, waking up in a cold sweat at night thinking I would be inundated with enquiries as soon as my website went live! I wish! The reality was quite different. After trying lots of things that have worked, not-worked or partially worked, I have come to the conclusion that a mix of traditional person to person networking, PR, Promotion and on-line Social media and PR exposure works best for my business. I have been gradually building up a database of clients and potential clients, with whom I can forge a relationship.
Since my business is based locally it fits in much better with being a working Mum and I can decide my hours, even though at times that means juggling things a lot in order to respond to client and business demands, in a professional and timely manner.
I am more than happy to talk to anyone who wants to know more about Overseas Property, particularly in Europe and I offer a free e-newsletter http://www.property-venture.com/property-venture-newsletter-sign-up.html service which keeps people up to speed with what is happening in Europe with property-related matters. I also have a free downloadable Podcast for those new to Overseas Property – “What you should know about investing in and renting, Overseas Property” http://www.property-venture.com/property-venture-events.html