Daring to dream again


Dear Billy

Towards the end of 2003 and the start of 2004 you kept pushing me to do a new business, you roasted me about letting the past ten years of my life pass in a flurry of self-pity and failure.

There was no excuse you would accept: Homophobia, HIV and shame certainly would not suffice.

The internet was fast becoming the focal point for property seekers, and yet; sellers were being asked to pay thousands for expensive press advertising.

Agents fees as a percentage of selling price were the same as they had been for the past ten years, and yet; house prices had doubled.

An agency selling the same number of properties was now making twice as much, and yet; the costs of running a business had been relatively stable.

Expensive shopfronts with displays of property were being rushed past as people hurried home to search for property in the comfort of their own home.

The advent of Auction as the primary method of sale, meant sellers were paying for the expensive and glossy promotion of the Agency, while buyers were looking for their dream house on the cheapest possible medium, sitting on their couch at home after dinner.

The business of Agency had changed but the major corporate groups had too much invested in the traditional model, for them to embrace this change.

We would talk about this disconnect and you encouraged me to launch an internet focused business, offering a lower fee structure and saving sellers thousands of dollars on advertising costs.

We did not have a lot of money between us, but we managed to round up enough support to give us confidence this concept could work.

We invested virtually all the money we had, in putting together our website and marketing material ready for a launch in July 2004.

In May and June three of our largest investors pulled out and we were left with the skeleton of a business but not enough money to launch it.

Were we foolhardy or were we brave? We decided to plough ahead on a much-reduced basis. It would mean, that rather than me being the promoter and figure head of the business, I would have to be the sole income earner until we began to make some headway.

Our income for the first twelve months was about half what we needed to break even, the second twelve months saw an increase of 100% in turnover, and in 2006 – 2007; the business made a profit.

It wasn’t enough to make a dent in the debt we had accumulated; our credit cards were maxed out and we were desperately short of cash but things were looking brighter.

I had spent the last three years working at least 100 hours a week, you had given up almost all your weekends to help me out, and you had incurred heavy, personal debt to keep the business afloat.

We were exhausted and we were broke, but if we were optimistic, we could see the light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

You had stood beside me through the toughest of times but there was hope. I think we even dared to dream of a holiday at the end of 2007.

My support and my strength, you were certainly both of these.





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