My early years
I am 38 years old and have been working for 22 years. Starting work at 16 has given me a four-year advantage on most people that start post University and enjoy a gap year or two. That early advantage has paid off as I now work one month in the UK and one month from my Yacht in the Med. How did I do it? Here is a brief overview:
Introduction to work and money
At 16 I worked doing whatever paid well. It’s nice to do what you love or like but I needed cash and the ability to start my own business. So, during my first year of work I did demolition, car sales, portering at the local hospital, bricklaying, club promoting and security.
By the time I was 17 I acquired my first business, a window cleaning round for £1600. A year later my first business was worth £6,000 and I sold it. I took the £6,000 and paid one month rent in advance for a car sales yard, £400 down, £5,600 left for a Porto cabin, a billboard sign and cars.
Within two weeks I had visited six car auctions and purchased 17 cars. Some for as little as £100 and some a few hundred quid. I was now in the car sales business. Taking enough money to live off and putting the rest back in I soon had over 50 cars ranging from £500 to £3000 for sale. Transport for London then introduced red route parking restrictions, my business went bust.
I parked my remaining car stock on the streets of London with for sale signs in the windows. This gave me a couple of weeks to get a new job. Selling cars from the streets is a great low cost business model, I had no costs and was using Government land. This lasted a few months.
Red Route parking restrictions meant people were being fined. In fact, about 30,000 people were failing to pay and needed chasing for payment. I soon had a new business idea; debt collection for Government.
A short period with an existing company to learn the ropes and I was in business. I was now the owner of a debt collection business and in year one turned over £1m.
Twelve years later I sold that business for over £30m. Six days post sale I formed big business number two. Investing £1m from the sale, I started a fintech firm and sold it nine months later for over £9m.
Two weeks after selling big business number two I launched www.firestarters.co.uk – a £13m investment fund for early stage businesses, using my own personal wealth.
So far, I own equity in nine companies and am looking to increase that to 20 by December 2018.
The key to building a business empire is to take measured risks. At each exit, I re-invested and rolled another dice. This enabled me to take a little for myself and invest a little back into a new venture.
Money makes money and that means you must not be afraid to roll again and again.
Sometimes you lose but that’s just business. Good luck!