Property Investory
Melissa Fisher: From Concrete to Property Developments
October 15, 2023
Where you start is not always where you end. From a humble gardening supplies business to a property development tycoon, Property Inc, Founder Melissa Fisher is a perfect example of what determination and passion can do for one's success.
In this episode, she takes us on a colourful journey from New Zealand to Australia. From feuds with the bank over forklifts to rundown shops and a million-dollar deal, Fisher shares her lowest lows and highest highs. Indeed, what may seem like just a $5,000 forklift was actually the catalyst that propelled her to success in her riveting property journey. Discover how her unwavering belief in herself helped her turn her life around through investing!

00:01:12 | From Gardening To Property Development
00:02:10 | A Knack For Adventure
00:07:12 | A Day In The Life
00:10:13 | The Early Years
00:13:04 | Experience>Education
00:15:25 | The Shift To Property
00:18:46 | A Leap Of Faith
00:21:26 | Starting Up
00:22:44 | A Run-In With The Bank
00:26:54 | The Forklift
00:28:05 | Standing Her Ground

00:00:31 | The Shift To Property
00:03:39 | A Learning Curve
00:06:28 | Learning To Help
00:08:28 | Getting A Start
00:10:55 | The Storage Facility
00:14:30 | Calculating Experience
00:15:55 | The Worst Challenge
00:18:29 | A Second Challenge
00:24:00 | The Power of Persevering
00:25:13 | The Best Moment
00:35:33 | Sealing The Deal
00:40:01 | No Luck Involved
00:43:15 | Staying In Touch

Resources and Links:


Melissa Fisher:
[00:26:44] …my business partner said to them, ‘So what is in your mind? How do you believe that people actually succeed? Like, what is the difference between succeeding and failing in property projects in industry?’ And they turned around and said ‘Simple’. They said, ‘it's the people that believe in it, are the ones that actually succeed’. And as you know, I've lived by that for a long time. If you don't believe in it, don't waste your time. 
Tyrone Shum:
This is Property Investory where we talk to successful property investors to find out more about their stories, mindset and strategies.
I’m Tyrone Shum and in this episode, we’re speaking with Property Inc. Founder Melissa Fisher. A successful businesswoman and developer, she gives us insight into the dedication and passion required to transform a gardening supply side-hustle into a business empire. Plus, she unveils a story of how an ugly conversation with a bank led her to buying a forklift!

From Gardening to Property Development

Tyrone Shum:  
Fisher is a successful businesswoman through and through, and she gives an overview of how exactly property became an integral aspect of her career. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:00:32] I have been in business for a very long time, and I say more years than I care to actually admit. I had my first [business] when I was 21, which [is] a very pivotal point in my life. And I've been in business for myself ever since. 

[00:00:43] So property hasn't been a forever thing. But it's certainly been an integral part of my entire journey. So now I still run multiple businesses for property tech platforms, property developers by nature, I coach students in property. I- that keeps me fairly busy as the other life I have [is] a commercial pilot's license. I love flying. I love getting out, and doing adventurous things. I certainly love being out in nature, enjoying sunshine, and, and all those wonderful things that go with life as well.

A Knack for Adventure

Tyrone Shum:  
Though many of us may have dreams of climbing mountains and exploring nature, Fisher is someone who has followed through on those dreams. 

Melissa Fisher: 
[00:01:21] I love hiking. So a few years ago, and I say a few years ago now: it was 2019. So pre world events, I will hike to Kilimanjaro as a preload in a couple of weeks over in Africa. Absolutely incredible experience. So [I] love the Saturday morning walks to go and get coffee, which might be a 12k, walk right to the Let's climb a mountain and experience what that's all about. 

[00:01:49] So I've done it in many places across the world, I'm great. Getting out and experiencing different locations and doing it on foot, it's just a very, very different way to do it really allows you to immerse into the whole experience of why you are going to places and culture and nature and all of those things. So that is a great time to get out of your head and back into you know, the other the other they have that other side of life.

[00:02:21] It was... it's seven days from start to finish. You can do it in five. But seven days from start to finish, we wanted the entire experience. And the reality of it is what they do is they start teaching you to do everything slowly. And it's quite interesting because I'm very busy. So I'm going all the time for the first couple of days, it is just doing everything at a very slow pace. And you don't really appreciate why until you get to the peak. And it's because you can't do it any other way but at a slow pace.

[00:02:53] So they really are teaching you and priming you to be able to achieve what it is: getting to the top. And also acclimatized due to the lack of oxygen that's that's going on. So the first few days were very slow. They take you to a point where they're doing blood checks constantly, just blow up blood oxygen checks to make sure that you're going to make the top successfully healthy, and be able to get back down again. amazing views you get super well looked after. Like by nature, they're beautiful people, but they make sure you're very well looked after. You're very healthy the entire time. Some like I said stunning, stunning views. 

Tyrone Shum:
Fisher was not keen to settle for mere 'stunning views'. Just like in her career, she was determined to make the most of her hiking experience.  

Melissa Fisher:
[00:03:31] The night of, we left about 11 o'clock at night to do the last part of the hike and they ask you what you wanted. And I'd said to them I want sunrise so I want to be at the summit for sunrise. They said ‘Yeah, you and everyone else’. Okay, let's see. So 11 o'clock at night you are rubbed up with everything you've possibly got with you. Because it is cold down to minus 18 degrees is what it comes down to. So it's cold. It's a very different type of cold. It's not a measurable bleak cold at all, but it is - be very prepared. We take bottles of hot water with us because they don't stay hot for long. They don't stay with [me] for long either. So [a] very specific process to make sure that you can remain hydrated getting up there. Because like I said, you've got ice and no time. So [at] 11 o'clock it was sunrise when we made it to the summit. The most heavenly view. 

[00:04:34] And it's really interesting because flying [to] a lot of places you see [the] sunrise many times out the window of a plane. There's nothing quite like the achievement of actually climbing to that altitude. And still being able to breathe will be incoherent because we learn alot about about oxygen levels from flying. So we're very conscious of what [we] can actually do to get there and actually experiencing sunrise under those circumstances was just incredible. An incredible experience. I took us for the four days from start to finish to get there a lot faster going down. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:05:21] So, [on a] particular day, you only come down to a point and then it's just rest for the rest of the day, get the oxygen happening again, look after yourself. And then it's only two days to actually do the rest of it. So an incredible experience. I recommend it to anyone to try. It really does. If you struggle getting out of your head, don't do it. You have no other option. And it's a great experience with the culture over there as well how they see things - different perspectives on life. A lot of levels. So yeah, it was incredible. Incredible. 

Tyrone Shum:
To those of us listening at home who have always wanted to climb a mountain, perhaps this is our sign to finally say: I’m going to go out and do it. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:06:05] That's what I like to hear. That's actually what I like to hear. Obviously, life's about experiences. So rack them up, absolutely get out there and enjoy it. And that's one that I've'll always be a highlight of life, that one. Just for  many reasons. But yeah, you've really got to push yourself. You really push yourself to, to achieve it. So yeah, it's great on a lot of levels.

A Day in the Life

Tyrone Shum: 
With no moments to spare, Fisher makes the most of each and every day—especially her sunlit hours.  

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:06:44] I get up early. I'm absolutely an early person. And I love that. So I have a routine that I go through personally, every morning as far as a little bit of journaling and, and defining what life is actually about. Defining what it is that the days actually look like for me. And then it is at pace. That is, I do exercise, so it's either walking or it's gym every single morning. And then it's into the day. And realistically, I have multiple teams, various businesses, so it's on calls with them, supporting them, making sure they got good direction. And then when there'll be plenty of meetings, to go along their projects to look over their feasibility to check through. So we're irrelevant to how much or how little we have project wise going on. Believe me, there's never a day where there's nothing to do. There's research on new areas as councils to speak to, the State Government to speak to, and then the day is done. 

Tyrone Shum:
Of course, Fisher is only human. And just like the rest of us, she needs time to recompose herself from her busy life.

Melissa Fisher:
[00:07:41] Days —some days —  I just block a day out to say there's no meetings, there's no phone calls, it's now back into the solid. [It] might be research: a day of going through a new area and, and seeing you know what's actually happening or a day of mapping out what's going on with [the] State Government, what their future plans are, and then how we can integrate with some of those things. So sometimes, [I] really do have to block out big chunks of no times because they get consumed with meetings and demands and emails and all of those things. Yeah, so busy days, but they're very rewarding days. I love it. It's very, it's very people oriented. Yeah, so it's a lot of time talking. But a lot of time, a lot of time around people as its brand. This is property for me as it's a people game. So yeah, I do spend a lot of time out there and amongst people and get to the end of the day, and eventually I'll take a little bit of wind downtime. 

[00:08:38] Probably the hardest part of my life is the wind at the end of the day. Because like I said, they'll always be something to do so have to be very conscious about saying, ‘Stop, shut it off [that] other side of life’. There's other things to do. Summertime, I love [it] because we have daylight savings. So it extends the day out, it can be a light walk, and it's still daylight in Victoria. And these sort of things, it is a bit more of a struggle. It's cold, so it's okay to be inside. So it's okay to keep doing things. So [I’m] a little bit more conscious. As far as I pick up a good book, at the end of the night, then it's a wind-down, pick up a good book, shift out of the headspace of all things business and property and into a little bit of new news or, and that's someone else's journey. I love reading. I love reading biographies and autobiographies and sort of things. Yeah. 

[00:09:36] I do love busy days, especially when they're productive. You know, when you're actually... when you've got a purpose behind what you're doing and you love it. Being busy is... it's not the end of the world.

The Early Years

Tyrone Shum:
It is safe to say Fisher’s determination was practiced young. Constantly on the move, Fisher was able to adapt to her rapidly shifting life and invest in her own future.

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:09:58] I was actually born in New Zealand. Right? So I was born in a little town called Dineen, which is right down the south in New Zealand. And my parents and my father way back then was a builder. So going back quite a few years now, he was a builder and when they came over to Australia to build my uncle's house. So we shipped. They packed us up as kids and they bought us out here for 12 months while my dad built my uncle's McMansion, we called it at the time. It was great, and we loved it. It was a very different climate, a very different everything. So we did our 12 months at school here, and then we went back to New Zealand. Mum and Dad then went to work on selling everything and getting rid of the house and packing us up. And then we shifted back over here. 

[00:10:44] Oh, we live in. So I was brought up again. They went from small country town to small country town, though. So I was actually caught up in a little town called Lake Gildan. So very small town, very big lake. So needless to say, I got into water sports as a kid. That's what we did. Summer doings was water skiing, swimming and horse riding. That was what Eldon was all about in those days, so absolutely loved, it could not think of a better place as a kid to actually be brought up that has a huge amount of experiences and opportunities. From that perspective. Not a lot from a work perspective, for sure. But it really applies to everyone, you everyone. I say you couldn't get away with anything. But it was also one of those places where there was never any concern about being able to walk to a friend's place or go and do something. It's a very, very great environment as a kid to be brought up. We learned that... we learnt a lot. 

[00:11:38] Early in age, we also learned to work early in age as well. So that supported our habits because skiing and stuff is not cheap. So you learn to earn these things, which was great. I couldn't fault it. But I left there early when we shifted from New Zealand over to Australia, the school systems there are different. So you start all earlier over there. So it meant that when I finished school here I was still young. I was only just turned 16, packed up from like Gildan because again, very little job opportunity and shifted to Melbourne. So we're talking a town of 300 in the middle of winter, which was 1000s during summer because it's very, very tourism based at the time so to Melbourne, which was a very interesting, very interesting contrast to say the very least. But again, another incredible, incredible step in life, to be able to step out of a little country town and experience [the] big city. [I] started my first job in an accounting firm. So that served me well.

Experience > Education

Tyrone Shum:
Maybe a more common experience than society lets us believe, Fisher shares her thoughts on the value of education - or perhaps the lack thereof. 

Melissa Fisher:
[00:12:49] When I left school, I left school because I didn't get a lot out of it. I was good at school, I had no problem with that. But I really got nothing out of it. I wasn't feeling as though I was heading in a direction or I was achieving anything and, and I was working as a kid. My mum had gone and she had bought a cafe, a little restaurant so they were doing business. They were doing their things. And at that age, I was looking for a whole lot more. So needle and foot whether it be unfortunate or not. And I said, I don't live with regrets because I've got out to experience life and I certainly learned from that. I didn't go on to university. I didn't want to get educated, so I decided way back then  that life was about experience and I'll learn on the run was pretty much the attitude around it. And believe me, I learned on the run. But I did. I left, I got a great job. 

[00:14:53] That was [what] my mom had said to me: 'You're not leaving school unless you got a good job to go to'. Right. Find a good job then. So way back then, this was [when] I left school and I had a job as a Girl Friday at an accounting firm. Because while they have this expectation of me doing more things, filing and collating paperwork, I'm just like ‘show me where the tax returns are’. So let me work this out. And I was always very intrigued and curious about how things worked. But also went, 'just let me have a go'. So I spend an amount of time with them and I probably would have been one of their most annoying employees. I've done my job, give me yours. Let me have a look at this. And it was great. I loved it. It was a great experience. And I went on to various other small jobs like that until the age of 21, where I started my own business in... it was a garden supplies [store]. Again, in a small country town and Gippsland which is east of Melbourne. Garden supplies and [then] turn[ed] that into a garden supplies, building supplies and transport business. 

The Shift to Property

Tyrone Shum:
Looking back on her upbringing, Fisher looks at the impacts that her father’s job as a builder may have had on influencing her own interest in property development. 

Melissa Fisher:
[00:15:51] You know, we want to get to that 'where do you start in property?'. We'll all have reference points. But as you're under, you actually really stop and think about where property actually had an impact on my life over my lifetime. Like I said, my dad being a builder actually would have had an impact at the time. And certainly it's given me [the] position to leverage from over time, that business, a massive milestone into what the industry actually looks like, from a different perspective. Certainly, definitely getting to know trades and how they operate and all of those sort of things way back then. And pricing, we've priced up many, many jobs so, so a long time ago, I learned a lot of those things, didn't implement them for a lot of years, but certainly learned a lot about it back then. But I left when I left that job, I took that position [in] that small business and went into transport. So I spent quite a few years in transport and the transport industry at a trucking company. For a while I drove trucks. So another... quite funny. I did. I drove trucks for quite some time. It was... I say it was a milestone in my life. 

[00:16:20] I remember you know, ever being that child where someone says to you, what are you going to do when you grow up? With absolute clarity, I was going to be a truck driver or a barrister. Saw something like that in there as well just to mix it up. But a truck driver or a barrister and I always find that recollection quite amusing. Because I did. I went in and I drove semis for a while. We had our own tip trucks and quite a few contracts for a long time. Absolutely loved it had [a] great impact in the industry. That made a lot of sense. Logistics make sense to me and a lot of it is numbers-orientated. So I've had a lot of fun, met a lot of people [and] made a lot of new friends out of it, like I said, at various different projects along the way. I managed other businesses for people. I've got to restructure some of their businesses through that industry.

[00:17:14] So it headed [towards] me. It just did, it steered me in a direction.

A Leap of Faith

Tyrone Shum: 
Fisher never wanted to settle. Not sure she was willing to take the paths life offered, Fisher recounts the process of paving her own way. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:17:35] It's very interesting. Because thought process wise, while I was looking at what jobs are out there [I] just go: this is just not great. This is because I left school because I wasn't getting anything out of it. I just had this great need,  this desire, hunger for [more], and I wasn't finding it. And even through the jobs that I'd had done, there's more to it than this. There's more to life than this is... more to experience. And it'd become quite frustrating. To the point that I have that attitude [that] says, ‘Well, if I can't find it somewhere else, I'll make it myself'. That's just it. So it's like, okay, this particular small town where I'd ended up shifting out of Melbourne to go 'Wow, okay, there's an opportunity'. 

[00:18:21] And I have no idea how I'm going to do this because I have literally no idea about any of that, except I enjoy being outside, I enjoy the garden, I can talk to people. So I've got an understanding of how these things can work. I've had an amount of business understanding through watching my parents and then the accounting firm that I was at. This, it's very much business orientated, their clients. So what was fine, have a go? What's the worst that can happen? Anyway, and it did well, we did quite well. I learned a lot on the run. I learned a lot about the actual structure of business, what works, what doesn't work, the challenges that you've got to overcome, and we're in a time then where interest rates were 18[%]+. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:19:18] 3% over interest rate and an overdraft. So you factored it in. It was what it was at that point. And luckily enough for me, I knew no different. I didn't have other reference points to start seeing this. And this is too hard. So it was a great thing. Leaning in at that point in time was great because I learned a lot out of it. Learn how to overcome challenges in a business that was small at the time and allowed me to play around with it, grow things, see where it went. 

[00:19:45] Certainly gave me amazing insights into collaboration, working with other businesses, projects that we got on, contracts that I got through that were just amazing. So great. It was a great sounding board, but it just came off the back of: there was not a lot of what I, in my mind, consider to be good work around that I was going to enjoy and want to spend a lot of time doing. So full of 'I can't find it, create it'.

Starting Up

Tyrone Shum:
Having learned a lot from her youth, Fisher relays for us the small, first steps she took to start her own business. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:20:37] That business started off being a small garden supplies [business] and then, pushing that out to building products and working with trays, you've got to deliver things. So we had a small truck at the time and that truck, you didn't actually need a truck license for. So that that was the start of yes, we got a couple of tracks. 

[00:20:55] And now we pay a lot of money to get all of our products cut in. Can we actually do that cheaper? What does it look like if we had our own trucks and then if I have them, they're not running 24/7? Doing what we can do. So what else do I do with them? How do they actually support themselves and make money? So it was a constant. 

[00:21:14] And then from there it was...well, there's the Princess Highway at the time [that] was being duplicated. So there was a lot of work happening on that highway. So we'll see, we know, we could probably pick up some contracts with them. And then, when that finishes, we'll put another driver on it. We can cut stuff into our yard. Let's see how this works. 

[00:21:31] So it was... it was a snowball effect from wanting to service our own business to start off with. Yep. And then looking at: what else can we do with these? How can we actually expand this so it becomes more successful? Every step of it, there's always something to learn. 

A Run-in With the Bank

Tyrone Shum: 
No business is without problems. Remembering her financial struggles in launching her business, Fisher shares the problem-solving strategies she had to implement to push through obstacles.

Melissa Fisher: 
[00:21:10] You realize that that is what business is about. [It] is about solving problems. I remember, I remember when we first... when I first started that business, and we started getting things bought in on pallets, [we're] gonna need a forklift. And it's not like I had a huge amount of money. We started this business on nothing. 

[00:22:29] So there was a need to negotiate things. We borrowed a forklift from the business that was next door to us. They were great. They were a machinery business, they had forklifts. They said 'No problems, just come and grab this one whenever you want'. And it was a really old heavy forklift. It made no difference to me. It did the job. It meant I didn't have to hand unload pallet loads of stuff and have cranky drivers because I'm taking too long. So from that perspective, okay, so I know I can use this, but I want my own. I don't want to be the inconvenience. If they're not open, what do I do? How do I actually, how do I work through this? 

[00:23:04] So we go up to the bank, and back. Then we're talking $5,000 going to the bank, and I say to the bank, I need a forklift, and I can buy one from next door. It's $5,000. I'd never borrowed money in my life at that point. So it's like, how am I going to make this happen? And so he sat there and he said to me, 'You can't borrow money'. And I said to him, 'Why not?' And he said, well, he said 'First, $5,000 for a forklift'. He said, 'We need to see some sort of security. What are you going to give us, how are you going to pay it back?' And in my mind, I knew how I was going to do it. But I'm like: ‘okay, so I have to learn how to actually position this a little bit better clearly’.

[00:23:42] Well, they're pretty painful. I've marched off with a no. Saying no is not going to work. How do I actually, how do I get past that? How do I find another way around it? And a little bit of a struggle to go, 'Well, who do I actually ask?'.  Because, in my mind, the time and still quite young so that the bank is what you know. It's... it was just what you're taught. That is what happens. No, it wasn't how it happened. 

[00:24:10] But I did get a letter in the mail that said there's a credit. You could get a credit card and you can get this $1,000 credit card and I went well. $1,000 isn't $5,000 but it might be enough to have that, and then the bank [will] be able to give me the rest. Let's see what and I think I just became annoying to the bank eventually... He's just going, 'She's not going to go away', and again it was... it's those moments that are pivotal moments where you go 'wow'. It's this: a no is not a no forever, it's just a not like that or not at the moment. So where to from here? So that was, it was a constant that was. It was no different to 'I want a new truck'. 

[00:24:57] Okay, so, so now how do we actually achieve it without having to jump through the normal hoops that we go through, which taught me a lot about negotiating, taught me a lot about speaking to other people, being able to ask for something and be okay that sometimes it's a no. Sometimes those no's come with another direction of you could go and speak to these people, you could try this. But it taught me a lot about collaborating. Because every challenge along the way, there was another business or another person or another opportunity that I got to play with. Work three things, work and achieve an outcome. 

[00:25:32] So that way back then they were amazing opportunities for me at the time, but very pivotable moving forward into everything that I do now. And it's...those are the things that I've never forgotten. When and now the  size of the challenge just changes. Okay, so when challenges happen now, you might have a COVID coming flying through. Those are the things that I remember that just go you know what, it's never a no forever. 

[00:26:01] It's a... it's a quick in (indiscernible) to look at things differently.

The Forklift

Tyrone Shum:
Though Fisher did get the forklift, it was about so much more than just overcoming an obstacle for her. It is what success is to her. 

Melissa Fisher:
[00:26:16] What my forklift was, was no, was that I was never settling. And I knew, I didn't know well enough back then. So, it was persistence that got that through. It was just sheer persistence of,  'okay, that didn't work. I'll try this. Let's go again'. So yeah, persistence definitely got me the result. 

[00:26:34] But again, it's one of those things that ...that even now it is that ability to not give up too soon, that gets the best results, that actually sees things through. 

[00:26:44] A very interesting conversation with a company we're working with on a project only the other day, and my business partner said to them, 'So what is it in your mind? How do you believe that people actually succeed? Like, what is the difference between succeeding and failing in property projects in industry?' And they turned around and said 'Simple'. They said, 'It's the people that believe in it, are the ones that actually succeed'. And as you know, I've lived by that for a long time. If you don't believe in it,  don't waste your time. That's right. It's not enjoyable, you've actually got to believe in what you do.

Standing Her Ground

Tyrone Shum:
For Fisher, it’s wasn’t smooth-sailing after her forklift dilemma. She reflects for us the importance of passion in your work and yourself as she overcomes yet another obstacle.

Melissa Fisher:
[00:27:20] I...very quickly, my transport life was very much based around understanding the industry, being able to work with other businesses, the logistical side of it made sense. But being able to create great outcomes was incredible. We got a massive challenge as the highway was duplicated, where they were now going to cut off the service road to my little garden supply business. I thought, ‘that's not going to happen’. They did it in a way that they didn't engage all of the businesses to say 'this is how it's going to work'. They did put paperwork out, but unless you are in amongst all the right forums and everything, it can slip past quite easily, which I thought was a little bit frustrating. But that was okay. Eventually, it came to my attention that this is what was happening. 

[00:28:12] And I said, 'well, no, it's not that that's not an option, actually, because that means that first I can't get my trucks in conveniently, and then my customers inconveniently either. So it wasn't just about me, it was about our businesses, because there was a group of us along them. So we had to go into a fight. And literally, you're now talking about people that design highways. Not just the bank over a $5,000 loan. Again, it was collaboration, it was being able to speak to the guys from Vic Roads and say, 'What do I do about this?'. Because, I don't know who to go to. And, I don't actually know how to fight that. But all I know is that I can't do nothing, because that's seriously detrimental to our businesses. And I'm also working on these projects. 

[00:29:00] So now I've got a massive conflict that's going on. If I'm going to create something, I want it to be beneficial, not something that's going to damage our business. How did this come about? So we worked through it, the guys were amazing. They said, 'We can show you where the design faults are. And then you can actually go back with some information to present to them and [say] let's do this differently'. And I went, Oh my gosh, 'I love you guys. You're amazing'. So they worked through it with me. And then we got out there and we're measuring things. 

[00:29:27] And so again, I learned a lot about how they designed the players that are actually involved at that level. And then certainly how to get an inroad into  a meeting that is required and definitely about 'don't give up too early'. Because you're never ever going to get the results you want if you don't back yourself. Absolutely. All the way. Certainly got our service road and our turning road that we wanted. So we're super happy about that. Again, this is another one of those moments that throughout life is something that I can often reference to, to save against. 

The Shift to Property

Tyrone Shum:
Continuing on her journey, Fisher reveals how she found herself going down the property development route. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:00:26]  It is almost a stumble at times. So I was involved and I say my previous partner who has since passed away was a concreter. Now, I was in amongst amazing projects, one of them was that they did all the concrete panels and slabs and everything for was the one thing (indiscernible) hospital when it was rebuilt. And one of my surf clubs was another one that we like to work on. So when I, a little bit of a sidestep with how they did things, I learned very much about the tendering process and pricing up projects, the extent that things actually go to and the depth of it. We see things on the surface. 

[00:01:12] And I make a lot of assumptions. And there was a lot that went on behind the scenes that I learned from the processes of those projects, and absolutely loved it. I loved the points of difference consistently, different areas you can play in. There were a lot of times and it was hands on. I had no problems getting out there with a pair of gumboots on and a screen. What I did learn was I'm useless on a wheelbarrow. Just useless. As many times said to the guys, I'll do anything else for you. But that is just not my gig. That's okay, we can't be good at everything, right? That was my one thought that I was absolutely hopeless at. 

Tyrone Shum:
Undeterred, Fisher was keen to learn. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:01:52] I did learn a lot, being very hands on but certainly the paperwork side of things. Being able to work through the numbers to be able to see whether it works or it doesn't work, what needs to be changed. And then that also led through to working very closely with a lot of builders on those projects, and a lot of the other trades because it's never, you're never ever on a project on your own. So the interaction with those guys seeing something from start to finish from a construction perspective, then this well, wow, this was amazing. 

[00:02:23] So that was an absolute eye opener to be involved in it even only as a portion of concrete, one of the last things that are done are the final finishes on the concrete. So it's the final parts that go in any work that needs to be finalised or sealed from a pavement perspective. Last job, so you get to see it at an absolute final stage looking amazing. And I loved that. I thought that was absolutely fantastic. There was a bit of a lead-in and there was an excitement around it, there was a curiosity of what else but not enough knowledge to go: 'let's just go straight into property development'. This is what it's all about. Because they were sizable jobs from a standing start, like there were many factory floors that were done and slabs that were done. And I got to lead teams through that on various projects. But again, never never from a full development perspective. 

[00:03:23] So leading into the property development was taking on a couple of smaller jobs, and funnily enough, and I will often talk about having land sitting. I'm not a land baking fan at all, I'm gonna have it, it's got to be working, it's gotta be doing something. 

A Learning Curve

Tyrone Shum:  
For Fisher, the transition to property development required a lot of learning. Thankfully, she was able to grow both herself and her business. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:03:41] Even now we'll buy an amount of vacant land, and we'll have years of process to go through. But there were ways and means of making money. So it's not [that] we're not out of pocket for expenses, which was something I actually learned over many, many, many years on how to do that. But I still had to get educated at some level. So it's: 'where do I find the information now to actually take this on myself to be able to step into something different to be able to do it at a different level?'.

[00:04:15] And I came across the 'I love real estate' community. So I spent time with Dympna and her team and [the] absolutely amazing levels of information that they give. And I mean, you only ever get out of something what you want. People can walk through the same course or the same education and come out of it with very, very different outcomes. But you've got to want something when you're going in and you've actually got to come out the other end being prepared to execute and utilize those things.

[00:04:47] So they gave a serious amount of information. And then from there, it was just executed. Have a go. Try these things. So [our] first property project was starting our storage units. And I had to go back to ground zero, to say, 'where do I start?'. And it's from the beginning, it's out there talking to people, it's now reliving everything that I had learned over a lifetime of communication, collaboration: don't give up persistence, get out there and get started. So develop that from the very beginning, we did the subdivision, we did the constructions, got the business up and running, and then go again, do another lot. 

[00:05:34] Second round, do the same thing. You know what works, build some factories that maximize the capacity of that piece of land constantly checking in on numbers, but the reality of [what] I was to say [was] the absolute lead in is the desire to work with people. The desire to be working for outcomes, not just the concrete side of things was construction, amazing to see, but the development side of things is about the outcome we deliver to someone else. 

[00:06:00] And all of everything in between is collaboration and teamwork and good conversation and looking for solutions. And how do we formulate the best outcome? But development itself is seriously about being able to deliver a great outcome for someone or something else. It might be a community, it might be for other businesses, whatever the case may be, it's very much I'm here to help.

Learning To Help

Tyrone Shum:
Despite overcoming her learning obstacles, Fisher was determined to give back to the community with her development. Balancing her drive for success and her desire for goodness, Fisher shares her start-up experience. 

Melissa Fisher:
[00:06:47] Development for and always has been from the smaller 'what I learned a lot about our storage unit first development', very much about who it's for, being able to create something that worked for the local area for the local people using it, understanding their needs. When you can understand the absolute needs of people and have those conversations and be okay to ask the questions, you can deliver an end result that works for them, instead of just delivering an end result. Because we can all do that. But if it sits there and does nothing or if it's if there's no benefit back into a community of this is nothing beneficial achieved off the end of it. Well, for what purpose?

Melissa Fisher:   
[00:07:30] And it's unfortunate, because we see an amount of it, and I take nothing away from anyone that's prepared to say, build it. And, and it'll work, I certainly take nothing away from that. Because there's a lot of work and effort that has to go into that. And then once it's done looking at it, it has to be retrofitted to accommodate the new tenants coming in, or the new owners. So there's a little bit back to front, where you can work with people from the beginning to create something that's beneficial. 

[00:08:02] Take them on a journey through it, let them see the great and the challenge that also goes with creating their end product. They're very engaged in it. They're also very understanding when they see how things actually do happen. Nothing is a straight line, smooth sailing. You've got to be okay that there's [a] challenge along the way. Perspective is everything. Yeah. 

Getting a Start

Tyrone Shum:  
Having found her new passion and acquired the new skills, Fisher needed a way to start. Thankfully, she already had one. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:08:42] My husband said on that parcel, and he'd had it prior to us meeting, had a parcel of industrial land. That was the very beginning of a subdivision. So the gentleman that had created the subdivision had pre-sold land, which was fine - common occurrence. However, when he bought it, he had done no research whatsoever on what he was going to do with it. 

[00:09:06] We got together and [I] had a look at it with him and said, "Oh, well, let's talk to the council". And we got no, no, no, no constantly. The challenge was: it's the location in the area that created an issue. Council had put it right up against some nice residential land. And then they wanted full scale, large building industrial on that, and it's not possible. So it meant that nothing was going to happen for quite some time, it was going to take a while before they saw things differently, or you could work through [the] process to get anything on it. So it sat and it meant then eventually we had to go back and say 'right, let's relook at it differently. We know that's not going to work. There's no point in even looking at it'. Because we don't want to put large scale industrial there up against residents. We wouldn't like it. So let's not create that for someone else. But what can go there?

[00:09:56] So what businesses have minimal impact? What sort of opportunities could we put there which will have a minimal impact on residents, will certainly be beneficial and there's a need for [them] in the area. So a little bit of checking out the entire region and saying, 'What does the region have? What's its growth like? What does the growth area need?'.

[00:10:15] And what's actually happening and [one of the big things we noticed was our land lot sizes were getting smaller. So we'd gone from quarter acre lots down to, you know, at the time it was still  7-800 square metres, down to 600 square metre lots. So saying, 'Well, okay, if our land size is getting smaller, where do we put all our stuff? Where does the caravan go? Where do the kids' toys go? Where does grandma's dresser that someone's storing go look? Where do we put all this stuff? When [there] is a good point, where do we put it all?' Ah, well, maybe we could put it in storage, maybe there's a solution we could look at. 

The Storage Facility

Tyrone Shum:
Enthusiastic and passionate, Fisher had a unique way of finding out what people needed.

Melissa Fisher: 
[00:10:49] I would go off, true to form, I'd be in the supermarket or the line in the bank. And whoever would be in front of me was a surefire victim. This is before you had self serve. I was convinced that I created self serve at the supermarkets for people who just go "Oh, do I have to answer all these questions?" "Just curious, if you had to store something in storage, what would that look like? What would be the hard and fast you've got to have?". And would often get, "I've got to have good lighting", "I'm not putting my stuff in storage, if I've got to go there at night, there's got to be lights". And most of the people I spoke to at that point where women don't want to get wet feet.

[00:11:36] "If I have to go there and get something out I don't want to be walking through puddles and stuff", "don't want to get wet feet". And there's got to be good security. And well that's not hard to [do] but the reality is, it never is hard. It's generally the little things, the simple things which make the big difference. So based on that, off we go. I'd had a look at some storage facilities and [it] went well 'clearly that doesn't meet their brief' and that doesn't meet their brief so we won't do that. Let's have a look at what does. 

[00:12:01] So we just designed it and said 'well let's give them what they want', let's concrete it so then they're not going to get wet feet, we have good lighting outside. So when it's dark, it's always well lit and we have good security cameras. So can we meet the brief quite easily without over capitalising on this until we're sure we can. Now it's quite simple, 'how many can I fit on here? What do the numbers look like as revenue? And then what's it gonna cost me?'. So what are my outgoings going to be and we went 'Wow, well that's not bad'. So I say I stumble into some of these things. 

Tyrone Shum:
Delving deeper into some of her lessons, Fisher imparts wisdom through her learning challenges.

Melissa Fisher:
[00:12:36] Much of it is about talking to people and working out what it is they need, and then saying how can we actually deliver that? And the simplicity of it - those three simple things - as all that had to be delivered was optional. Those were the three things that had to be delivered. So we delivered them, we launched them. We gave ourselves two years to actually go from zero to full, had it done in 12 months and went 'let's go again, let's build some more. This is very successful'.

[00:13:08] So we had a waiting list for the second ones. So [on] a scale, we learned size, we weren't taught that some size is better than other size and if you're going to measure a boat make sure you measure the draw bar as well. Was that actually going to fit in the storage unit? Nothing's perfect. However, [the] second time around we mastered the size a little bit better and also catered for different target markets as well. So I have tradies that leave their tradie tools and trade these trailers in there overnight. Because their tools were getting pinched and things like this out there trailers at night, so we created big ones for them to be able to hook up [and] drive straight out with their trailers. So they're super happy guys. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:14:03] It really isn't in the whole scheme of it. Their challenge is the inconvenience of when they're going to turn up on site the next day, and they've got no tools. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:14:15] So that was a big tip for them. Absolutely. And it saved them fines from the Council for having their trailer parked on the side of the road. So, a small price to pay [that] ticks a lot of boxes.

Calculating Experience

Tyrone Shum: 
For Fisher, the number of projects have bled into the hundreds. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:14:41] Look, it's really...and it's interesting because I often get asked timeframes and I go 'I've got to actually do a calculation in my mind to what age I was when I started doing something and work forward'. I never know. I'd have to be now [to] have included all residential ones in the hundreds of projects. Some are quite in and out, very quick renovations. For a comparison for your listeners, I am the hard and fast that says a renovation is one of the hardest strategies to actually do. 

[00:15:16] You are working with the unknown. And that is very, very challenging from a starting position. So I hear a lot of people lead in with a, let's start my property journey with renovation. I'd advise against it. To be honest, there's a lot to learn before you actually go into that. But I have done an amount of them. I've done some very quick Internet renovations, and made money along the way. I've done some house constructions and held and sold and all kinds of things, but the majority now have been in industrial, commercial space, and then the property developments and subdivisions.

The Worst Challenge

Tyrone Shum: 
The road to success is never easy, and it certainly wasn’t for Fisher. Thankfully, she was able to not only overcome her challenge but learn important life lessons. 

Melissa Fisher:   
[00:16:16] There's so many because there's not a project that I'll actually do that I won't learn something from along the way. That I'll always look at and go 'okay, what would we do differently if we were starting that project again, knowing what you know now. What would I do differently?' And so I will always do that. And so there's always something you can learn out of the project or relevant to how many times you've done it. 

[00:16:37] However, of all the projects I've done: challenges, I've had two major standouts. One was the first lot of storage units that I engaged [in with] a civil company. They had their own everything inhouse pretty much, to assist with the planning and the engineering on it. And overengineered the drainage to a $1 figure of about $40,000. Now, this whole storage unit project only cost (land and everything) only cost me just over $500,000. So $40,000 extra to have spent on drainage, I'm thankful the project was as successful as what it was, because otherwise that could have really hurt. But it was a massive, massive learning. 

[00:17:18] And I didn't know until the second lot, just worked with a different company on it. And I said to him, 'the last letter of drainage that we actually did was and I explained it to him. And he looked at me and he just went, why, just why? And I said well, because that's what the engineers did. That's... so I learned a lot about drainage off the back of that one, the expectations of Council, how we can design things better to actually get a better end result without having to spend that much money. So a massive learning curve on having consultants on a project that are not qualified for that project. And that is either too qualified or under qualified. And they were just to quantify, they like overengineered that size development. 

[00:18:05] So I learned a lot about that. And that's a constant in the back of my mind, when I'm engaging new teams for various different projects, especially after doing really big ones. If we take on a small sideline project being very conscious of who's actually on that, that suits the project, suits what we're looking for, and understands that level. 

A Second Challenge

Tyrone Shum:
Unfortunately for Fisher, the road was not steady yet. The global pandemic brought with it yet another obstacle to overcome. 

Melissa Fisher:
[00:18:27] The other one was COVID, probably everything during COVID. We were neck deep plus I'm in hospitality, through COVID. I was super proud of everyone that I got to work with through COVID. Some of the hardest times in multiple industries and business that I've ever seen, but also some of the best opportunities. And it was a tough gig for everyone. I say psychologically, emotionally, and then you've got business to deal with as well on top of that. 

[00:19:02] So we had just contracted on a new pub just before COVID hit and went unconditional just before COVID. So [that] went well. There's that game plan out the window, because that's clearly never going to work. So what are we going to do? Which meant we had to do everything from a business level and a project level out of sequence back to front. It was just shake it up and go okay, no is not an option. We can't back out of it. 

[00:19:31] We spoke to the lawyers about the contract. And they said look, we can fight it based on... we sat down and when integrity comes in at levels as well, where you go, but hold on. Everyone's going through the same thing. Right? Where does that actually leave things? We signed up for this. Can we make it work? How do we actually work through this and it was at that point we went 'alright, we're moving forward'. [We were] unsure on how this is actually going to play out but we what we're going to do is instead of opening and building the business and then looking at renovation and some changes, we're going to shut the business down because we have to. 

[00:20:09] And again, you know, hindsight is a wonderful thing here. Who knew it was going to last as long as what it did? We had mapped it out for launches to open and gone. Oh, okay, well, clearly that date is not going to happen. And now we've got banks that are yelling at us and we've got vendors that want us to settle and we're going well, it's just one step at a time, you've got to make this work, you've got to find other solutions, we've got to look at it differently. Super happy, we employed 26 people through it. So we actually got people working and business, and that was one of the toughest challenges. 

Tyrone Shum:
Having learned vital lessons, Fisher shares some of this wisdom now.

Melissa Fisher:
[00:20:43] [It] is still able to be forward focused and keep some sort of forward momentum, trying to motivate the community and to support business. And then each day going home, going 'oh now here's the stack of bills that we have to work through'. 

[00:21:00] And unfortunately, from a government perspective, because the ABN was registered on the date that it was, we couldn't get Jobkeeper, we couldn't get any COVID brands or anything through it. So we're going well, that makes [it] a little bit more challenging. And, I was in this with a business partner who was an amazing guy. He was an incredible builder. And he's sitting there to go,' how the hell do we make it work? When do we give up on this?'. We went 'well, you know, your... giving up is not an option'. So what we've been given here is if we give up, it's going to hurt, it's really going to hurt. If we look at other solutions, then we've got a fighting chance of actually finding a better way out of this a better end result. 

[00:21:45] We deal with a lease on it. Some again, incredible women that took on a lease that were amazing in the industry that said nope, we can do incredible things with this. So we said 'fine, let's work through this'. So everything's great. While everything is great, we'll have your starting while everything's not great, you say can't get much worse. Let's formulate leases. We know what [the] worst case scenarios are. So it should be easy to get through this with some great end results. So we did. We got all leases in place, we ended up putting it to auction. We didn't get what we would have liked. But we certainly came out of it okay. 

[00:22:21] We auctioned it off, it went to an offshore investor, which is... that's probably the hardest part for me is that it didn't remain local. This pub’s like 100 odd years old, it's an amazing building. So much more potential that we couldn't actually see through to the end. We said there's a point in time where we would, if we pass this on now, the business, we've got good people in the operating, we bring an investor in that will do well out of it. It clears the debts, it means that everyone's okay, it works. So there's certain decision making that happens along the way. At no point is there a 'we've got to give up'. 

[00:23:00] But you do have to be able to make strategic decisions at times. And it's tough, because you can have a vision that you want to create and be very aligned with it and know that it's going to bring great benefit. But [you] certainly have to look at things from a perspective of what happens now, if we make that choice, and you are so much in the unknown. Can you pull it off? And when you're not in business on your own, when you've got business partners, there's a lot of people to give consideration to and employees to give consideration to. We said, well, we have an overseas investor that's prepared to buy this offer off the lease. So now we know it's going to survive. So that's [the] worst case scenario. That's not so bad. 

[00:23:45] And you know, off that lots of other good things happened. We made great relationships with different people. We bought new trades which were fantastic. None of it was about challenges. None of it was without a whole lot of heartache through COVID. But like I said, super proud of all the teams that put in and still being able to get it through to a very saleable product that's still doing quite well up there now. 

The Power of Persevering

Tyrone Shum:
Despite all these challenges, Fisher has comforting words for her audience: determination can overcome anything. 

Melissa Fisher:    
[00:24:12] When times were tough, and there were many days that we were just sitting there saying 'we've got to get this open, we've got to get to the point where it's open'. And then it's just the next step. It's the 'don't look too far in front of yourself. What is the next step that is going to keep this moving?' There were some super challenging times which I could then draw around previous points in life to go 'you don't give up'. There's always a way forward. There's always another choice to make another decision that can keep things heading in the right direction. And there's always someone else to speak to. There's always another agent, another opportunity so yep, it's definitely one of the ones that certainly sticks as one of the most challenging moments. 

[00:24:54] But Alekos (indiscernible) can retire on and honestly say no project. No realistically no project is without challenge. It's how we want to see it. And then it's what you do with that, that makes the ultimate difference.

The Best Moment

Tyrone Shum:  
Of course, Fisher has many more wins than losses. She uncovers some of her most memorable and rewarding moments. 

Melissa Fisher:    
[00:25:27] I love this. So for all of the projects, I will always have a deeper attraction to what end result we can create and, what the overall benefits in these things are. So there's always soft spots with every development that I do. So we don't get attached emotionally to it. But we certainly get connected with every project that I'm doing. So a lot of 'aha' moments and a lot of great benefits. 

[00:25:55] But one in particular, which is a massive 'aha' moment, was a group of shops that I did in Melbourne. And I'd gone funnily enough down to the auction to have a look. And I was only going down there to have a look at who was in the market. What this actually looked like. It's [a] nice little group of shops. I hadn't done due diligence on it, I'd asked, I can look through it and don't yeah, that's, it's cool. It's interesting. Let's just go and have a look and see what it looks like. I'm not in that [position] outside of my ability to buy at that point in time. So I turned up at the auction. And of course, the auction is as they are. Right there. And they want to have conversations and see who's interested [and] who's not. 

[00:26:41] Anyway, so I had a conversation with him. And I said to him, "So what are you expecting to get for this today?" And I literally had no idea at the time, what they were expecting for it. They had not  mentioned anything, he said, "Oh, what 5 million plus" and I went, 'Okay. It's interesting'. So by now, I might just check out and go for a walk and have a look around this. I just went, 'wow, really?' That's okay. In my mind then, I'm just questioning how and where does $5 million fit into this? Like, I need to know what kind of work that out. And that's just the curiosity that kicks in that says, right, you've got to kind of quantify this because that was definitely not a number that I was expecting to hear.  

[00:27:21] So I started walking around listening to everyone else go 'Oh, my God, this is horrible. So much work to be done to this. Look at the... everything needs to be redone. Don't like the structure of it'. And I walk away and go, 'you know what, it's not really that bad. It's some paint. Yeah, a couple of towels we need to replace. It's not the end of the world'. It's a little bit ugly, but not the end of the world. And I thought, 'well, that's just an interesting perspective'. Never thought much out of it. Radio silence at the auction, not a thing. Not a beard, not anything. What was gone? Well, that was a bit deflating. All right, I'm out of here. 

[00:27:53] Now I'm off, I've got things to do. We actually had the auctioneer  chasing us to the car. Oh, they're not going to let go are they? And I just said, "No, no, no, Matt, we're out. I'm not interested". And I was actually going into Apple at Fountain Gate. And they rang and said, "Listen, we know you expressed an interest in the IM blah, blah, blah, would you still be interested in putting an offer in if we gave you some time. [We] don't really care what the offer is,". And I went "well, I could but it's certainly not going to be the number that you asked". I'm still struggling with that at the moment. I said, "But if you give me 24 hours, I'll do some due diligence, and I'll come back to you". And he said, "Alright, fine". 

[00:28:34] So we bypass Apple and home and let's make a few phone calls, crunch some numbers, get some information that I need. I literally spent 24 hours chasing information, speaking to some incredible people in the industry about the potential and what the cap rates were and what those square meter rates were for lease. What does this actually look like as a value proposition at the moment? And then, what can I do with it to get it to where it would be worth more? And then what is that gap in the middle? What does that look like? Is that gap big enough for me to be able to say, 'well, I'm prepared to have a go', or is it not? And was the gap big enough? 

[00:29:10] And I went 'wow. Okay, so if I'm... if I couldn't believe in the fact that I can do this, the starting position is not as bad as what one would think. And then the ending position is quite good. So how the hell do I fund this? 

Tyrone Shum:  
For Fisher, a no is just a sign to try differently. Of course, she finds another way. 

Melissa Fisher: 
[00:29:34] For many years earlier, okay, about the no's. How am I going to do this? So [I] actually spoke to some, I say private lending entities, and said to them, "what is the worst case scenario if I couldn't get real dollars, if I couldn't actually fund this, then what can I get from you? What do you need and then what is it going to cost me?". Because in my mind, I just needed to know how long I actually have before I run out of [the] ability to do anything financially. So then he came back to me and he said, "Well, it's going to hurt. If you get to [the] settlement date and you couldn't settle on it, we can fund it. So we can settle for you, but you're going to be paying 3% a month". And I went, "Okay".

[00:30:22] 3% a month is more than what I remember back in the days of 18 to 20%. Okay, so wow, okay, so that hurts, yes. So then I went, "Right. So what is the least going to bring in? What is this going to look like? So then, how much do I actually have? How long? Would I be able to sustain that before it really seriously hurts?" So I went, 'okay, best-case, worst-case scenario. I know what the worst-case scenario is, am I prepared to have a go?

[00:30:48] So I went ‘sure’. I'm very confident that I have got a big chunk of money that I can create uplift, and that the days on market are low enough that I should be able to sell this quite easily. It shouldn't be a big deal if you sell it in smaller pieces. Their only problem is they're trying to sell it as a whole. And it's outside of the affordability of most people. So I said [it] makes sense, just cut it up, let's sell it off in smaller pieces. So it seemed quite simple at the time. I mean, it was quite simple. 

Melissa Fisher:   
[00:31:24] The beauty of it was, they were already individual titles, but the owner is lazy. He didn't want to sell it independently. So I said, 'okay'. So I put an offer into them of $3.85 million. And I said, 'that's it'. I said, but I need six months. I said I need a six month settlement. But that's all I can give you. That's what it's currently worth today as it sits. So they said we'll come back to you, which they did within 24 hours. They came back and said, "We'll accept the price. But you could only have five months".

[00:32:01] A lot more money, less time. No, that was their only gig. So I said, "Okay, fine". I said, "Oh, by the way, I need to be able to market this, I need to be able to clean up, tidy up, get work done. I'm not going to update the tenants". They said "That's fine". Done, signed, sealed, delivered. [A] couple of days, contracts are all signed. And it was work boots on and you're down there. And it was the biggest cleanup I've ever had to do. 

Tyrone Shum:
And so began the long stretch. 

Melissa Fisher:
[00:32:26] There were inches of grime on [the] windows that just made this place look dingy, just to replace an appliance, paint the outside of it, clean up the arcade. We put a nice mural on the inside of the arcade wall and went straight to auction. We put it up for auction. So I used a different agent that I'd been doing the numbers and everything with and said to him "How long do you need to market?". Then he said "Six weeks". I said, right. Well, you best start marketing now because I've only got five months, and you've got to be settled in five months. So let's work backwards. So we said 'fine, let's do it'.

[00:32:58] So, very vibrant, very enthusiastic signs went straight up for a re-auction. Individual titles, they did a great six week marketing campaign. We held the auction [and] totally cleaned up, repainted, looking sleek. It looked [like a] totally different building. [It] had a budget of $100,000 from start to finish, which had to include everything, including my marketing agents, which we didn't tip over over budget. And this is where I say commercial renovations are not a big deal. They're generally pressure washers, paint a nice clean slate for tenants to work with. We're standing at [an] auction, and I heard the same noise as I heard at the previous one.

[00:33:47] In my 24 hour due diligence, this agent I spoke to. We spoke about 'What's plan A, what's plan B, what's Plan C'. Like I know I've got five months. So if plan A doesn't work, we need to know what Plan B is and launch into it straightaway. We have a lot of time to muck around. So when we had gone into this with 'we're not going to put tenants in all of them', because we want to get owner occupiers in as well. We don't want to close the door to owner occupiers. And we don't want to waste time chasing tenants that early.

[00:34:17] So we launched the auction with some vacancy and certainly some tenanted buildings. When there was no noise at the agent, the agent turned around and said "Okay, so who's really here to buy," and we had a predominantly Vietnamese market and they said, "Oh, yes, yes, we're here. We're here to buy, let me talk to you". So [a] very different environment. I hadn't seen anything and went 'wow'. So they were all bought (indiscernible) to those sold on the day at auction. 

[00:34:56] We didn't give [any] consideration to it. We just said 'this is what we do'. We have an expectation that people engage in it and it works. To actually really point out the benefit of good agents... and certainly he could have said, "Oh, that was pointless". But he did this again, not prepared to give up when he goes "Who's actually here to buy?". And they were like, "Yes, yes, me, me, me". So there was, like I said, I need two that didn't settle on the day, face (indiscernible) settled, not long after, met our five months, very happy. We were very happy. 

Sealing the Deal

Tyrone Shum:
A property development project is never fully done until it's sold. For Fisher, her celebrations were on hold while she faced a minor bump on the road to a million-dollar deal. 

Melissa Fisher:
[00:35:31] The challenges of the owner who had turned around and said, 'I don't think I want to sell anymore'. He's seen it looking nice. He's saying ‘You're gonna make money out of me’, and I went, ‘Well, I'm actually making money out of a choice that I made’. And yes, it was a choice that you made as well. Okay, so let's be fair, you accepted what was fair and reasonable for you. I mean, he was very frustrating at times. And he delayed settlement to the third time. 

[00:36:09] The third time we turned up at the settlement offices, which used to be above the bank. We turned up there armed with cash, with checkbooks, with cars with you name it. I said, "We want to be the first settlement for the day". So I've got all day, so he can't not settle today. Is it the third time, right? It's going to happen. And it did, it happened that day. The memorable moment through all of it was walking through the Bunnings carpark saying it's a million dollar deal. It's an absolute million dollar deal. I know it is. I'm prepared to back myself through this. We know we'll get there. 

[00:36:44] Absolutely, not a belief and feeling, that just with the all-knowing that we know it's going to be challenged, but we'll get it across a lot, very okay with it. 

[00:36:52] And I very distinctly remember that entire day what the weather was like, everything about it. To come out the other end, I'd kept the air right. So for me, as much as we made money on it, I wanted the air, I wanted to put digital signage up there. And then what does that look like? So I spent good money on lawyers to create the lease first for the airspace, and then the title that sits up there, which is our air to put digital signage on it, which can return $100,000 a year. We're selling it for a million dollars. Reference that to that moment in the Bunnings car park, the 'aha' [that] this is absolutely a million dollar deal. And went 'yeah, it is, the thin air is'. That is where I learned about air rights. And playing in that space was just amazing. 

[00:37:44] The creativity that came off that project because we had to. We had to be creative to be able to do it in the timeframe. You've got to be solution oriented, you've got to be able to talk to your agents and the vendor, even when they're frustrated and work through things with them. You've got to be able to talk to potential buyers. So there brought in so much of what I've learned over the years to say, 'just take it another step further, you might not be able to afford it'. But money's not the biggest issue. And I take this to students. 

[00:38:14] Now, I say if the deal stacks up, yes, witchery of the deal stacks up, we can work it out financially, if it doesn't, then the money is never going to be there, you're never going to get someone to invest or anyone to land if the deal doesn't stack up. So look at the deal first, then you have to believe in it, you've actually got to believe in what you're creating, that there is a saleable market for it or a desire from tenants to actually want the product you're creating. Then there's the financial side that will work out along the way. And back to the end: don't ever, ever give up. 

[00:38:47] So it is one of those projects that delivered so much on so many levels. We made very good money financially out of it. I've had to keep the air right. So that's amazing as well, another little asset. Another little gold nugget which heads off in different directions of things you can do. Future potential development, all of those things. So it's one of my favourites because it brought a lot of chatter, brought a lot of rewards. And it was a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun doing it. Not long days, but a lot of fun.

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:39:29] I love seeing people enjoying what they're doing, even when it's challenging. Even when you know you're out there doing some long days and it can be hard work on all of these things. When you enjoy it, when you are delivering something back to tenants. And because I've been in business, it's important for me to make sure that if I'm bringing tenants in or I'm working with them at that level that we deliver something [that] is worthwhile to them as well, that works for them. So to be able to do that, you've got to love what you do. You just have to do it day to day, you've got to enjoy it. So there's nothing better.

No Luck Involved

Tyrone Shum:    
[00:40:00]  Well, Melissa, you've achieved so much over this time. You've run multiple successful businesses, multiple projects and property development stuff. How much of that do you think has been because of your skill? Intelligence, how it work? And how much of it is because of luck?

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:40:17] I can sit there and hand on heart say, it's not because of education. It's not. I finished school at 16. And whilst I was good at school, I finished [it] all at 16. I completed year 11. So it's not because of being highly educated, or any university degrees or anything like this. I say a lot of my success comes from being curious enough to question a lot of things. Certainly, mindset plays a massive part in success. So it's perspective orientation. Being able to back yourself, believing in things, how you see things, the stories we tell ourselves, all of that plays a massive part in success. 

[00:41:05] Being able to speak to people, ask good questions, when you... don't expect you know everything. I certainly knew nothing when I started. But my level of curiosity and ability just to ask questions, to not give up, again, plays a big part in it and being able to reflect back over the good and the not so good. So always look back at how far you've come, what you've learned, what you've done, be able to be proud of it, be able to recognize the achievements that you've had, but then also check in on the challenges along the way. And so what would I do differently? What could I do next time that is going to stop that challenge from happening? Or who do I need to speak to so that doesn't occur again next time? So definite check-ins on all of that. 

[00:41:50] Like I said, we create our own luck. That's right, we create luck by being able to take step number one [which] is go: 'let's have a go, let's head in this direction'. And stay positive. Don't beat yourself up over something that didn't go perfectly. Like no one expects you to be perfect. We're all our own harshest critics and worst enemies. We need to stop that, it doesn't do us any good at all. And certainly, you know, I say you get to choose who you play with. Play with the right people. Play with people that want to be doing what you want to do. Don't try to force people on that journey. 

[00:42:28] You attract the right people into what it is that you're doing. And actually give some recognition to that. Because we can all sit there and go, 'I want. Why isn't it happening for me?' So sometimes you have to stop and breathe and say, 'Okay, so who do I need around me? Who do I need around me?' Have those conversations. Do you want to be involved? It's not a solo game. And nor should be. So there's no one thing that adds to the success or the failure of anything. It's a compound effective choice that we make. And I say for success, it's forward thinking, it's solution based. It's wanting to do it not just for the money and not just for ourselves, but the benefit and the impact that we deliver to other people.

Staying in Touch

Tyrone Shum:  
For listeners out there that want to learn more about Fisher’s projects, they can connect with her through her very own digital platform, Property Inc.

Melissa Fisher:   
[00:43:36] The platform is super exciting. A lot of it's come off the back of everything you've just heard. How can we do things differently? How do we make it easier for people? I coach students as well. So some of it is, how do I get to interact differently with them? How do people get to pull a great team together if you don't know how to do it? Because I'm very big on our teams and what that actually looks like? 

[00:44:17] Where do we find the resources? How do you find the good deals that aren't on [the] market? How do I go from renovation end to commercial? There were so many questions that constantly kept coming up that I went, there's got to be an easier way to put this in front of people. To be able to give people a place to learn, to be educated, to interact with the right people. To go from where they're at, to where they want to be a little bit easier, to find someone that they need on a project or to ask questions and get given the right answers. So all of that came down to 'how do I create this and how do we utilize technology because whether we like it or not, it is here to stay'. So we may as well lean in, use it and make sure that we do it in a way that is collaborative and works for everyone else so it's really exciting. 

[00:45:06] I have the most amazing team on the tech side of things and the assets, the marketing, but the joint venture side of things, because when I say property is not a solo game, life's not a solo game. So everything we do is about who we're doing that with, and being able to expand any offering that we have into the multitude of amazing coaches and education and things that are out there, as well as the amazing consultants that we work with, and many others right across the country, and right across the globe, eventually. So it was very much about 'let's bring this into amazing technology, give everyone the opportunity to go from wherever they are today, irrelevant to where that, is to where they want to be' with the resources around them, the platform to operate it from the education that's there if they need it, and then the community be able to interact with and share successes, asked questions, and all of those things that come with it. So super excited.

[00:46:05] I'm very grateful to the team, because they're very proactive on how they do things, some great thought processes around how this is coming together. A lot of my team from my projects have had input into this, including some of the agents that I deal with, with the new product that's coming out. So I can say I'm super proud of it. Another little sideline, that had to happen, it was one of those, there's so many challenges in this industry that we want to actually make it easier, better, and certainly give it a different perspective. Because it's not necessarily seen in the greatest light. Often it's not represented well. So to be able to do that would be absolutely incredible. 

[00:46:51] So, I'm gonna give you a whole heap of links. Property Inc is the platform. You can actually jump on and look for Property Inc now. It's free to get on. It' sign up. It's just a name and an email address, I believe, [that] actually gets you in. You can have a look around. We do everything from mindset stuff through to projects that are on there. But the team at the moment are launching some incredible stuff over the next week. I'm gonna give you some links, QR codes, and I'm sure we can come up with something exciting for your listeners that allows them some maybe exclusive access to have a peek at things. A little bit special for them. So I'll make sure that there's a promo code or something for those guys. Make sure they feel special and rewarded.

Believe in Yourself

Tyrone Shum:  
For now, Fisher leaves us with her parting advice. 

Melissa Fisher:  
[00:48:27] Thank you very much. And thank you for having me. It was absolutely wonderful having a chat with you and sharing my story as interesting as what it can be when I have to speak it as well as what it was when I actually lived it out. So I wish your listeners all the very best as I do for everything that you do, but also to all your listeners and their great successes wherever they actually head to remember: just back yourself. There's no need to ever give up. There's always another option.


Tyrone Shum: 
Thank you to Melissa Fisher, our guest on this episode of Property Investory.