What was your first job after leaving school/further education?
After completing my undergraduate degree in Financial Services Management from Edinburgh Napier University, I decided to further my education, and went on to study my master’s degree in Real Estate Management and Development at Heriot Watt University. While studying for my master’s degree, I worked part time as a Graduate Surveyor for J&E Shepherd before accepting a full-time position after graduating.
When did you start your business & what prompted you to do it?
Guardian Estates was started at the end of December 2016. It was founded with the aim of providing a fresh perspective into the residential property sector within Edinburgh and Central Scotland. The residential property market is extremely competitive but I felt that there was a place for a boutique property management company, that offers a personal service to every client tailored to their needs, and that can provide a complete solution for property investors looking for a reliable lettings company.
What did you find most challenging at the beginning?
The most challenging thing for me has been setting up my company by myself and having to try and build a business from scratch with a small client base. It would have been easier if I had built up a larger network of individuals looking to use Guardian Estates services before starting the company. However, over time and most importantly through client referrals, this is becoming less of an issue.
Who did you ask for advice & why did you choose them?
I spoke to a variety of people, with a wide range of backgrounds, before starting my business. The main thing I wanted to see is how people have or would set up their own business. I think I learnt more from observing practices or hearing ideas that I didn’t agree with. I think it is important to speak to as many people as possible. This is to really understand what you want your business to become and the best way of getting it to that position.
How did you fund your business?
Unlike most startup companies I was in an extremely fortunate position to have a small client base, of mainly friends and family, already built up and interested in using my services. This allowed me to utilise their business to ultimately start Guardian Estates. Since starting I have kept costs to a minimum to ensure that the business is in as strong a position as possible.
What would you do differently now looking back?
The main thing I would have done differently would have been to network more before starting Guardian Estates. Client referrals are the best way to get the company and your services known which will ultimately help you grow.
What or who has helped you to grow your business the most?
My girlfriend has been the person that has helped me the most so far with my business. Our skill sets are different and this alongside her belief in me have been invaluable in helping me to get where I am today. As soon as I mentioned that I was thinking about starting my own company she was on board and has helped where ever she could.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
The residential property management market is extremely competitive which makes it difficult for new, relatively unknown, companies to come in and gain a strong foot hold. However, since starting Guardian Estates people are starting to hear about what makes us different from our competitors. This is starting to make things a bit easier and ultimately help the company grow.
What are the future plans for your business?
Over the short to medium term I would like to see Guardian Estates in a more central office location with a core group of staff in place. My long-term view for the business would be to open offices in other locations.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to set up their own business?
There is always a reason why you shouldn’t start your own business or why to stop when it gets difficult. However, if you really want to own your own company, and that you think you can offer the market something different, you will find a way to get around any obstacle in your path.
Tell us something about you that isn’t commonly known.
I am responsible for setting up and running the Rex Club Red Kites, an invitational charity sevens team who raise money for Prostate Scotland. The team, who selects players from across Scotland’s Premiership and National 1 player pool, has grown dramatically over the last few season in both size and prestige.
And finally, why did you join WeDO?
I wanted to be part of a networking group that worked with my business. WeDO creates opportunities to help me develop my business through meeting and discussing ideas with a network for like-minded business owners. Everyone in WeDO are true entrepreneurs who want to try and help each other to succeed in their respective business. As a new member, I am blown away with how generous other members are with their time and can’t wait to give help to others where I can.