“The last six months have been understandably worrying and stressful. Almost overnight the coronavirus pandemic fundamentally changed the way businesses work and many people are facing the prospect of uncertainty and redundancy,” Paul Andrews said. “Yet at the same time it has also given them the opportunity to spend more time with their loved ones. That gets people thinking about what they want for their future, what they can do to change direction and, more importantly, how they can successfully achieve that elusive work-life balance.”
These cornerstones were what inspired Paul and Hayley to found their training business in the first place, having started their own property journey nearly 20 years ago as a way of creating financial freedom and security.
“Hayley was in the leisure and tourism industry and I was a computer programmer working on large-scale databases at the time. We loved property and were keen to shape a secure future for our family and so in 2002 we purchased our first buy-to-let,” Paul added.
From there, the entrepreneurial husband and wife team developed a portfolio that ranged from smaller rental properties to larger 21-bed HMOs, hotels and commercial buildings.
During their time in property, though, they have faced many personal challenges with Paul being diagnosed with a rare condition causing bleeds on the brain, which resulted in endless hospital visits, nervous waits for test results and, ultimately, major brain surgery.
It was this experience that made them decide to adapt their business to help others achieve the kind of success that they had shared.
“It was literally on the way to the operating theatre that we both decided that if Paul came through this OK we would make it one of our life mission to help and assist as many other people as we could become property investors and control their financial future,” Hayley commented.
“In that moment we learnt an invaluable lesson; time is the greatest commodity of all. Everyone deserves to live a life of their own design, doing what they want with the people they love. And that’s when Your Freedom Empire was born.”
Paul and Hayley have, since launching their mentoring brand 14 years ago, been keen to share their passion for property with those eager to enter the world of investment and reach their goals. In this time, they say they have supported the learning of hundreds of clients all over the world through their ‘innovative programme’.
“Your Freedom Empire empowers people to re-envisage their own potential. Our core values are centred on the four Ls – ‘Live’, ‘Love’, ‘Laugh’ and ‘Leave a Legacy’,” Paul said.
“As well as our courses and training programme, our mentors are there to guide people every step of the way. They have been carefully selected for their knowledge in property, business, mindset and health. Ultimately, we are producing professional property investors in the industry while also helping to rebuild areas and help to solve the UK housing crisis.”
However, property investment courses have recently come under the spotlight for the wrong reasons, with examples of ‘get-rich quick merchants’ and bogus property gurus using schemes to target vulnerable individuals. We recently ran a piece on the rise in property cons, and calls for further regulation and education in order to prevent them.
Samuel Leeds, a former illusionist and the founder of Property Investors – described as being cult-like in its operations – is the most controversial and high-profile name in the investment course scene, and has been involved in a host of scandals, one of which led to him being interviewed under caution by Guildford Police. But he’s far from the only one who has been accused of promising too much and delivering too little.
In a market viewed with increasing scepticism by many, can any company really responsibly promise to offer financial freedom? And what does financial freedom really mean?
“If anyone tells you it (property investment) is easy, they are lying or they have not done it themselves!” Hayley says. “There have been times I have rocked myself in the corner and thought a 9-5 job would be the easier option but I’ve been there and done that and as Robert Kiyosaki would say a JOB stands for Just Over Broke and I can personally relate to that quote!”
She adds: “Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing well: it takes hard work and I think it’s that message that training companies fall short on making clear.”
She insists being a successful property investor takes time and dedication and happily admits ‘it’s hard’. “It is not an easy quick fix to all your financial goals; you need a certain mindset and drive to succeed,” Hayley says.
“This business – as with any other – comes with its risks and rewards. It requires hard work, grit, determination and persistence for a good few years before you start seeing any real long-term wealth. Property is a marathon, not a sprint. The question people should ask is: ‘am I ready to make a change in my life? Do I have what it takes and is my ‘why’ big enough to help me hold myself accountable?’”
She continues: “Property can give you the lifestyle you desire and there is no limit to the success you can have. Our methods are tried and tested: my students and I are testament to that.”
Hayley says Your Freedom Empire very much puts the message out there that its courses are not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme.
“We install this into our students and manage their expectations in terms of their goals and timeframes to achieve them. This is based off the number of hours per day each individual can dedicate to their property business, the funds they have available to get started and the financial freedom figure they require.”
She defines financial freedom as financial security, allowing people freedom of choice. “It’s about replacing or matching income from employment or matching their outgoings and maintaining their current lifestyle without having to work in their current career. This gives them freedom of time to decide their next steps. Financial freedom is therefore different for everyone: it may be £1,000 to one person and £10,000 to another.”
The average person coming through the training will achieve some sort of financial freedom within 2-5 years, Hayley says, with this figure typically being around £3-4k per month.
“Many have done it quicker and some have taken longer, and this would be dedicating at least two hours per day to this business.”
She insists there are many different ways to create an income from property and many creative strategies.
“You do not have to own property to make an income from it! We believe that if you have the right teams around you and support structure then anything is possible. Your Freedom Empire gives you the tools, support, world-class power team and guidance BUT it is up to the individual to hold themselves accountable and make it happen - you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.”
Mentees do, though, get ‘lifetime’ support through the firm, with Hayley saying this ‘second to none support’ from mentors and power team members is what sets ‘us and our students apart from the rest’.
“YouTube university is fantastic and there are some great free tutorials out there (I put lots of free stuff out there myself) if the student needs to ask a question before they make an offer, or they can’t quite work out where the demand is coming from. Equally, it’s there for people who can’t work out what their offer should be, or what lending may be available for that deal, or if they want someone to check their numbers with or something has come up with the legals,” Hayley says.
Furthermore, advice is there for people who don’t fully understand property contracts or what insurances should be in place with a builder.
“Having a team and dedicated specialist on hand to answer your questions and support you is invaluable - our methods are tried and tested and we practice what we preach,” Hayley concludes.