Harvey Raybould is a serial entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience running successful businesses. He owns a multi-million-dollar property portfolio, recently sold a business for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and has angel invested in nearly 30 companies. He enjoys writing for his real estate investing blog and is an extremely passionate crypto investor.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to Valiant CEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Harvey Raybould: Being an entrepreneur is in my DNA. From a very early age, I had the entrepreneurial bug and was constantly looking for the next thing I could make money from. I think I was about fourteen when I started my first money-making venture and went through dozens of business ideas before I started to gain some success in my mid to late twenties. Friends of mine would laugh and ask what I was up to now, but I got there in the end.
Over the last 25 years, I have started and exited many businesses but currently, my main businesses revolve around real estate investment and development. Particularly high-end apartments for young professionals. I have been fortunate to build a great team around me, so the day-to-day running of these companies is taken care of for me. My primary time is taken up looking at new opportunities, managing other investments, and writing for my real estate investing blog.
Who has been the most influential person(s) in your life and how did they impact you? How did that lead to where you are today?
Harvey Raybould: There are two people that have influenced me the most in my life and had the greatest impact on me – my parents. My mother and father have supported me all their lives and have worked very hard to provide me with everything that they could. This meant that they had to go without in order to give me what I wanted such as a first-class education, a very good upbringing, and other opportunities.
Most people take their parents for granted and do not give them much credit for inspiring them and bringing them up the right way. I will always be grateful to my mum and dad for the love that they gave me and being so supportive and caring. I totally believe that I would not be where I am today without the help and support of my parents.
At times I would go to my parents for advice and they would give it to me with no strings attached. My mum and dad have always encouraged me and provided me with inspiration when the going got tough and the stress levels were high. They were also always there to celebrate my successes. Mum and Dad I am so proud of you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. My love for you will always be strong.
2020 was a challenging year for all of us, particularly for businesses. How did the pandemic impact your business? Please list some of the problems that you faced, and how you handled them.
Harvey Raybould: The pandemic affected my business in a number of different ways. There were three major problems that we had to deal with:
- Land Deals
We specialize in land deals and as soon as the pandemic started to affect the property market we lost a few of these. Others we had to renegotiate because the landowners had concerns about the value of their land, the rising cost of labor and materials, and other factors. I was able to successfully renegotiate a lot of the deals we had in place to ensure that we did not lose them all.
It was difficult to find good land opportunities once the pandemic took hold. I decided that we would take a longer-term view with acquiring land and wait for the market to improve. This paid off in the end when the easing came into play. My team and I watched the market carefully and were able to uncover new opportunities as things slowly returned to some kind of normal.
- Tenants paying Rent
I have a number of rental properties and during the pandemic, a lot of my tenants were either losing their jobs or being furloughed. This resulted in the loss of a significant amount of rental income. With the easing of the pandemic restrictions, we found that a lot of our tenants moved back with their families to save money. Most of our foreign tenants returned home to their countries. We had a number of vacant properties at this point and needed to find tenants for them.
We decided to implement a number of initiatives to attract new tenants to our vacant properties. These included providing discounts to new tenants such as 50% off their first month’s rent. In some cases, we provided the first month for free as long as they signed a tenancy agreement for a year or more. It took a while for these initiatives to work but we found tenants for all of our properties eventually.
- Sourcing Properties for Investment
As a real estate investor I am always sourcing good property opportunities for renovation and then to rent or flip. The pandemic slowed down the property market in the UK so much that it actually ground to a halt at one stage. I decided that I needed to be patient here and take a longer-term view. When the restrictions were lifted the property market bounced back and now I am able to continue similar to how I did before.
During the pandemic, I was not idle. I don’t believe in waiting for things to happen you need to make them happen. As a business, we streamlined a lot of our processes and made improvements to our systems. We were constantly monitoring the market and were able to uncover land and property opportunities that we would be able to further assess once the pandemic restrictions were lifted. I am happy to report that this strategy worked well.
The pandemic led to a myriad of cultural side effects, including one that was quite unexpected that is informally known as “The Great Resignation”. Did this widespread trend affect you in any way?
Harvey Raybould: There was certainly a threat to my business from the Great Resignation. I had heard rumors that some of my team were unhappy and wanted to move on. So I looked at the job roles of all of my employees from the perspective of how I could make their jobs more satisfying so that they would want to stay.
I asked myself the question “how can I provide more flexibility for the jobs that my people do?” From this, I came up with ideas to identify tasks that my employees could perform from home. Instead of “in-person” meetings, we changed to virtual meetings using platforms like Zoom. As a result of all of this, I was able to allow most of my team to work from home and they all told me that they were a lot happier to do this.
A side benefit from this was that it enabled us to do something for the planet as most of my team did not have to travel to work using their cars etc. I am an avid fan of reducing carbon footprints and contributing to the environment. With these initiatives, I have managed to keep all of my employees and do my bit for the planet as well. This was a great win-win.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. How do you feel about this trend? Explain.
Harvey Raybould: If the people that quit their jobs in the US are doing this to realize their dreams then I am all for it. In my opinion, more people need to decide what they really want from their lives and then take control of their destiny, etc. Anything that people do to empower themselves and take full responsibility for their futures is a good thing as far as I am concerned.
Of course, from the employer’s point of view, this is not a good thing. They do not want to see their employees walk and leave them in the lurch. I suggest that employers are more proactive to prevent so many employees from leaving. It is unlikely that all 4 million Americans that quit their jobs did so to follow their dreams. There will have been other underlying reasons for this.
Employers need to trust their employees more. If there is an option to let an employee work from home then they should strongly consider this. This will not be possible with all jobs, so employers need to look at providing their employees with more responsibility so that they will find their jobs more satisfying.
It is essential that companies find out the real reasons for people wanting to leave their jobs. You cannot fix a problem if you don’t know what it really is. This is easier said and done as some people will just say anything to get out of their job. But you need to believe in people here and ask them to tell you the truth. Sometimes the truth can hurt, but identifying the root cause of a problem is so much better than just treating the symptoms.
According to a study by Harvard Business Review, Employees between 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates, with an average increase of more than 20% between 2020 and 2021. That can be quite an alarming rate. What advice would you share to increase employee retention?
Harvey Raybould: I would look at making the positions more interesting for the employees as I did with my business. This worked well and it was not that difficult to do. Employers need to ask themselves a number of questions such as:
- Is there an opportunity to make the worker more responsible and contribute more to the business?
- Is there an opportunity for working from home?
- Is it possible to add more flexibility to the job role?
- What are the needs and wants of my employees?
- What are the future opportunities for my employees?
If employers feel that a company really cares about them then they are going to be more likely to want to stay. In addition to this, it is important that an employee feels that there is some kind of future for them to look forward to. When people feel like they are in a dead-end job then they are probably going to want to leave.
Employers need to accept that there will be some attrition but aim to keep this to a minimum. Understanding why people want to leave their jobs is always going to be a good starting point. There could be a number of reasons and you need to look for common themes here. How do your rates of pay compare to others in the same industry? Can you offer your employees more perks rather than raising their salaries? Believe that there are always ways to increase job satisfaction without having to break the bank.
According to a Nature Human behavior study, In 2020, 80% of US workers reported feeling that they have too many things to do and not enough time to do them – a phenomenon known as “time poverty”. What is your take on the work-life balance? Explain.
Harvey Raybould: I believe that the work-life balance is very important for all of the people that I employ. As an entrepreneur, I am used to working as many hours a day as it takes to achieve a goal. While I expect my employees to work hard during their set hours I am also aware that they have another life outside of work.
A lot of employees will not fully understand what achieving a good work-life balance actually means. Employers can be proactive here by explaining this to them and making recommendations on how individual employees can improve their own work-life balance. For example, a lot of employees will waste time because they procrastinate about a task they are asked to perform. They may not have performed a task like this before so they become overwhelmed thinking about handling it.
Be approachable and provide guidance to your employees when they need your help. Of course, you want to encourage your workers to think for themselves and take the initiative, but sometimes people get genuinely stuck with a task and they need help. I have said throughout this interview that I am a strong believer in trusting employees. As an employer, you need to demonstrate this.
A lot of people do not have good prioritization skills and this can result in them spending too much time on tasks that are not that important. It can also mean that the really important things are left until last or do not get done when they should. You can be proactive as an employer by encouraging workers to improve their prioritization skills. Provide training for them to improve their skills in this area.
A more recent survey by Joblist asked about 3,000 respondents if they’re actively thinking about leaving their job. That survey found that 73% of 2,099 respondents who answered this question on their employment plans are considering quitting. How are you preparing for the future to counter this potentially persistent problem?
Harvey Raybould: I am looking at the possibility of diversifying into more online projects to allow more of my people to work from home. This will also provide me with the opportunity to outsource some of the work to freelancers throughout the world. I have a virtual team now that includes freelancers from a number of different countries.
I have committed to reviewing the roles of my employees every 6 months so that I can keep the work as interesting as I can for everyone. In addition to this, I am looking at how I can move employees to different departments to gain more knowledge about the business and increase their experience.
Also, I am creating a succession plan and looking at the future roles that all of my employees could have. People need to feel that they are trusted and respected. Some will crave more responsibility and others will be happy to continue at their current level. It is all about knowing your people and understanding their aspirations. The better you know your people and are able to convince them that you trust them and that they have a bright future, the more chance you have of retaining them.
Thank you for all that, our readers are grateful for your insightful comments! Now, if the Great Resignation isn’t your greatest concern, what is the #1 most pressing challenge you’re trying to solve in your business right now?
Harvey Raybould: The number one issue for my business right now is the loss of tenants due to the pandemic and the after-effects. I have decided to implement a number of initiatives to stem the flow of tenants leaving which includes:
- Enhancing the communications that we have with our tenants
- Providing payment plans for tenants that are in need of financial help
- Treating all of our tenants as customers (this has really helped us already by reducing debts)
- Finding more short-term clients (e.g. introducing one-month rentals)
Over the years as a real estate investor, I have learned that you need to be as flexible as possible in order to be successful. Having patience is critical and it is always better to wait for the right investment property to come up rather than impulsive investing that usually results in a bad deal. The challenge for me is to convince all of my employees that they need to be more patient and not just go for anything. This is getting through to them as I am consistent with this message.
Before we finish things off, we do have one last question. If you had $10 Million Dollars to spend in one day, what would you spend it on?
Harvey Raybould: There are a number of things that I would do to spend the money in one day:
- Half of it I would invest in a select number of cryptocurrencies, metaverse, and technology stocks
- If there was a good real estate investment property available then I would purchase it
- I would give a good proportion of the money to my family to help them out
- I would donate at least one million to the animal charities I am involved with
- I would organize and pay for a world trip for a year with my parents
The bottom line here is that I would not spend the money on material things but invest for the future, I would avoid short-term gratification such as buying a fancy overpriced car. I will be honest with you and tell you that I used to dream of buying a top-of-the-range Ferrari, but over the last few years, I have dismissed this idea in favor of investing in the future.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Harvey Raybould for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Harvey Raybould or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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