Meet Scott Baker Properties: Property master minds, property developers and investor, comprised of Niall and Matt.
Scott Baker Properties is relatively young, just under 2 years old, how is it going and can you tell us a bit about the ethos and the motivation behind building a property company?
Niall: So, I guess the main reason for doing it in the first place was to get an income, pay for our bills and our lifestyles. Matt: I fell into it by accident almost four years ago. I was looking for ways to grow my music school business in Oxfordshire so went to a business growth seminar. At that seminar there was a speaker speaking about starting a property business from scratch and that sounded like it had more legs, more of a long term growth plan. In the music business it’s harder, exchanging time for money.
Niall: When matt was at that event, the lady speaking had a property training course, which we both attended and was how we met. Got some education first and foremost, taught us how to do it properly, then business and the friendship evolved over time.
Matt: Despite the business being only two years old, we’ve been working together and buying property for 3 years. 14th Feb 2016 was the first one, Valentines day!
So Matt you are also a jazz pianist, who are the musicians that inspire the music you write/play?
Matt: At the moment, I am working on some afro cuban music, so am inspired by Cuban and African musician, Ruben Gonzalez, from The Beuna Vista Social Club. That has inspired the stuff I’m currently working on (name to be decided). We’re halfway through recording an album at the moment, which will be done in spring. As a pianist my main inspirations in jazz: Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock. I’ve been playing jazz since I was 16, I love it. Not just jazz though; I was a session musician, so I’ve played rock, pop, soul, loads, over the past few years.
Do you enjoy playing music more now that you don’t do it as a profession?
Matt: Interesting question. I have choice in what I do now, I don’t have to do the wedding gigs, the function gigs; that can be soul destroying, as a lot of bands are underappreciated.
My musical goal is to create and play original music that I’ve had a hand in creating. I don’t have to make money in it, so it frees up creativity. And ironically, means it’s more likely to be more successful. When I finally finish it, might take 2 years to actually do it.
Niall, what do you do in the way of hobbies?
Niall: I like Bikram yoga and hot yoga. But really, I'm a bit of social butterfly, so I just like being around people a lot (Matt gestures drinking a pint).
So, that’s what I spend most of my time doing when I’m not at work, normally over a beer. I do like a long walk, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last year. We’re also discovering skiing at the moment too, we’ve got a trip planned soon with some other property developers.
What keeps you both sane and how do you balance work, family and leisure?
Niall: For me, the person that keeps me sane is my partner, Alex, he’s the voice of reason. He’s not into property and I’d say he’s more measured than I am. He’s my voice of reason if things are going wrong. The whole reason of moving into the office here was to make the work life balance a bit more structured; close the office door and leave it behind. When you’re self employed the temptation to work all day and all night can be overwhelming.
Matt: We got into property to be financially free, but we’ve actually just created a situation where we’re back in the office on a 9-5… So the office, and netflix. I suppose the other thing would be sitting playing the piano, which I don’t do enough.
Any past errors you wish you could erase or won’t be repeating in a hurry?
Matt: One was doing a project without a project manager, would not do that again. We are hands off investors, therefore we need someone to take the reigns for it.
Niall: We need someone on the ground to report back to us, we have builders of course, but to have a project manager this is a necessity. We have so many projects on the go at one time, we need people to manage these for us.
What are your resolutions for the new year?
Naill: We’re quite well planned, we did our resolutions in October. We went on a business retreat then and we set our goals then. We came into the new year already prepared on the business side.
The business goals are: grow the portfolio by 96 rooms this year, it’s called project 96. We want to set up an LGBT friendly hostel, a safe haven for people to go to if they’re homeless or kicked out of home for whatever reason. Working with charities, investors, organisations that can help provide the services. Get experts in to do the rest.
The otherside of business is helping landlords improve and grow their portfolios. We meet once a month at PLATF9RM (to start very shortly), for people who want to get into HMO and shared accomodation, or to improve what they’ve already got. It’s going to be education and accountability and support on a monthly basis.
Matt: Personal ones, for me is flexibility and fitness. The standard. I’ve had back problems for a while, so to get that sorted.
Naill: Mine is to get my fitness levels back. since Kili last year I’ve been getting fat, so to get back to where I was is my goal.
What was the biggest challenge of 2018 and what helped you overcome it?
Matt: A challenge feels like a challenge at the time, but we overcame that, so in hindsight, it doesn’t feel like a challenge. Last year I felt challenged a lot, but I couldn’t pinpoint it. Just growing pains.
Niall: We had builders that basically walked off sight, because we got sent an invoice from what we thought was our building team and the invoice was paid and then we discovered that the invoice was a scam. So we had to raise finance for our builders as well as claim our money back from the fraudsters.
The builders were aware of the fraud, but they weren’t patient and walked off site.
Now in hindsight it seems insignificant. It was an important lesson. This is how we learnt we needed a project manager on site.
Where do you see yourselves in 20 years time?
Niall: I never know how to answer these questions.
I enjoy what I do and I can’t see that changing anytime soon, working less maybe, but still doing the same thing. I am quite content to continue.
Matt: Probably dealing with a family. I mean, enjoying time with a family… Probably being more creative musically, having a good creative catalogue. Projects and property will grow inevitably. Failure doesn’t exist, it only exists when you stop, hurdles are only to be overcome and lessons learnt.