Property developers wear many hats. They have to understand the finances of their development projects, network and make contacts with suppliers, know how to spot a good opportunity (and how to snap it up!), have a comprehensive knowledge of construction….and the list goes on.
Big brand developers build a team of experts to get the job done, but smaller operations, particularly new developers, often try to do everything themselves. This can be for various reasons — fear of relinquishing control, lack of experience, limited contacts or a need to keep costs down. Whatever the reason, working long hours and juggling multiple responsibilities is a recipe for burnout. Property development also involves working to strict deadlines and meticulously managing a budget to ensure that projects are profitable. All of which can rapidly lead to chronic stress.
So, how can you hit project milestones and stay on budget without burning out as a property developer?
1. Time Management
You can’t create more hours in the day, but you can probably manage the time you do have better. When presented with a huge to-do list covering a wide range of skills and tasks, it’s easy to fall into the trap of flitting from one thing to another and operating in a reactive way. The result? You spend all your time fighting fires and responding to things as they happen and your to-do list never gets any smaller. Rapidly moving between tasks that require very different skills consumes a lot of mental energy. You’ll also be less productive if you only allow yourself small snippets of time to chip away at a task.
Time blocking is a great way for busy professionals to achieve maximum productivity without stress. This method of time management involves blocking out chunks of time to work on a specific task. This helps avoid a reactive approach to work and ensure that you have the time needed to complete essential tasks. For example, if you find yourself constantly distracted by calls from your development site, let your team know that you are only available to receive calls between specific hours unless it’s an emergency. You could allocate an hour in the morning, one at lunch and one at the end of the day. Likewise, if your attention is frequently drawn to social media while you’re working at your computer, close all these tabs down and time block half an hour at the start of the day and half an hour at the end of the day for checking interactions with your brand online.
Of course, there will always be unexpected and unplanned events that arise and need your attention. Time blocking is not designed to be applied rigidly. But if you’re juggling multiple responsibilities, as most property developers are,
You don’t have to do everything yourself. And in fact, you probably shouldn’t. Do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of your business and pay particular attention to your personal strengths and weaknesses. What are you great at? What do you have a lot of skills and experience doing? Which tasks do you love doing and want to keep control of? Conversely, what skills and experience do you lack and which tasks would you gladly hand over to someone else?
Even when you’re starting out and the budget is tight, outsourcing some tasks to professionals with the expertise to do them to a high standard is a savvy business decision. It may consume a slice of your budget, but an expert will do a task better and much more efficiently than an overworked developer with little experience in completing the job at hand. Investing in specialist support will also help you to deliver a first-class service to your customers, which will enhance your reputation and lead to more referrals and sales in the long run. What seems like an expensive outlay can deliver an impressive return on investment (ROI). For example, partnering with a house part-exchange (PX) provider will give your development a unique selling proposition (USP) if other local developers don’t offer this. With PX, your customers can sell their existing home and buy one of your new builds in one streamlined transaction. By adding value to your offer, such as property financing solutions, you’ll attract more potential customers and close more sales.
3. Schedule Time Out
Many entrepreneurs feel guilty if they’re not working from waking to sleeping — “I’ve got a business to run!”, “I’m responsible for a team of people”, “no-one else knows the business as I do”. But, if you put points one and two in place, your business should certainly be able to run smoothly if you take a little time out. And doing so will make you more productive when you are at work.
Make a list of things you enjoy doing or find relaxing: walking, reading, going to the gym, or meditating. Factor these blocks of time into your calendar first before adding in work tasks. If you try to fit them in around your work, you’ll quickly drop them because you “don’t have the time”. One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to regularly block out time for yourself. Even the most ambitious, dedicated business owners need some downtime.
Property development can be an enjoyable and lucrative career but managed poorly, it can also become all-consuming and unhealthily stressful. Plan your time carefully and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Factoring in opportunities to relax is crucial if you want to avoid burnout and achieve your full potential as a property developer.