Cardiff University Graduate, James Barnfield, shares his entrepreneurial success story with us…
James Barnfield obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Cardiff University in 2013, and since then has taken the plunge and started his own business. We met up with him so that he could tell us more about his business.
Tell us about your business and what you do?
Barnfield Bros is the name, and it’s a property development business. We seek out small to medium sized residential property development opportunities in Gloucestershire. Barnfield Bros oversees the whole project life cycle from conception to completion.
Every development project is unique and thus requires a unique structure and professional team.
Barnfield Bros acts a developer/development management for the duration of the project. We work with architects, quantity surveyors, planning consultants, builders, and a wide range of subcontractors to take a project from conception to completion.
Barnfield Bros also deals directly with estate agents and or letting agents/surveyors in drafting particulars and co-ordinating disposal of the completed projects through the marketing process.
We manage projects on behalf of clients and we are actively seeking out larger projects with a small group of investors and contractors.
The projects we have undertaken range from new build, renovation, refurbishment, listed building conversion and general conversion works.
What influenced your decision to start your own business?
The main influence was an opportunity presenting itself to me and my business partners. I believe the idea that being in the right place at the right time played heavily into the main motivation to start the business. A potential project presented itself and a joint decision to pursue this project was the start of Barnfield Bros!
Beyond this initial opportunity, the decision to grow the business was very much a controlled and calculated process leaving as little to chance as possible.
A certain level of confidence and independence within myself and an air of entrepreneurialism within the family, helped to lay the framework for the initial steps that the business took.
What were the initial challenges you faced and how where you able to overcome them?
The main challenges that I/we faced, beyond the general teething problems of a new business (securing funds, cash flow, unforeseen costs), was building a depth of knowledge in a short space of time to enable efficient day-to-day management of a small business. Having no established management structure or somebody else to blame if things go wrong is tough! You very much have to own what you do.
Some more industry specific challenges were in building a strong team of professionals and advisers to work with.
Within the property and construction industry you are very much dependent on good advice and reliable professionals. Architects, surveyors, solicitors, and builders with a wealth of experience are fundamental to an efficient profitable development outfit. Their advice underpins every decision that a developer has to make, therefore, the better the advice the easier the decision is to make; in theory anyway.
Securing sites or projects in a strong residential sales market is also a major problem. Unfortunately this challenge will never go away, it is however exaggerated by the youth of the business. When Barnfield Bros first started we could only undertake one project at a time, and when you cannot get your hands on a project for the right price it is difficult to make money.
What advice do you have for Cardiff University students wishing to start up their own business or venture?
Do your research, never be afraid to ask, and keep going! If you are doing things properly you are moving in the right direction it will get much harder before it gets easier, but persist it will be worth it.
What are your future goals?
To keep doing what I am doing and to enjoy doing it.
Money isn’t everything but if I could retire at 40 I wouldn’t be complaining.
Learn more about Barnfield Bros
Inspired? Get involved with Cardiff University Enterprise and Start-Up
Do you have entrepreneurial inspirations and aspirations? Cardiff University Enterprise and Start-up could help you realise your full potential in business and entrepreneurship. It’s all about thinking creatively, spotting opportunities, making things happening and developing skills for life. It’s not just about business; it’s about helping you to make the most of yourself.
James Barnfield, Barnfield Bros.
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