Since the date of its inception in 2004, Maureen's company’s portfolio of islands and services have increased so that it is now able to offer unique and bespoke hand-holding services for five Caribbean islands, namely, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica and St. Lucia.
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11 Dec 2012
Home ownership in the Caribbean is something many people have dreamed of, how has the business developed since it started and how is it managed from a legal perspective?
In addition to providing services for buying, building or selling property in the Caribbean, we have recently seen an increase in clients requiring help to deal with probate matters, property disputes and the writing of Wills for Caribbean and UK estates.
By establishing strategic business relationships with a number of reliable and trustworthy professionals in the Caribbean, UK residents no longer have to worry about who they can trust to deal with various aspects of their property affairs.
Much of the communicating with professional companies or individuals in the Caribbean is undertaken by Tropical Connections on behalf of our clients, as part of our ‘holding hands for peace of mind’ motto.
Tropical Connections is a Member of the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP) whose industry Code of Conduct it follows.
What was the catalyst that made you decide to go into business?
After eight years of working in a solicitors’ practice in the UK dealing with residential conveyancing transactions, I developed a desire for a change in scenery and new experiences.
This led to me relocating to Barbados in 1997, during which time I became interested and fascinated with real estate on the island.
However, I was less impressed with the fact that property prices were frequently increased where buyers lived abroad, and I also identified some of the reasons why UK residents often experienced difficulties when dealing with property matters in the Caribbean.
Once I returned to the UK, I found it difficult to settle back into life as an employee.
On realising that there was a gap in the market, I took the decision to set up my own business where I could blend two professions that I loved – law and real estate – while at the same time providing UK residents with much needed help for dealing with property matters in the Caribbean.
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What was holding you back from being an entrepreneur at the time?
Having failed to pursue two previous ideas due to lack of support from family and friends that would have seen me operating as an entrepreneur in the 80’s, I was of a mindset where it was safe and secure to be employed, as opposed to being an employer.
What was the best business advice you were given?
Be an expert in your field, stand out from your competitors and never limit yourself.
This advice was given to me by my business mentor.
What’s happening In the Caribbean Estate Sector?
Unfortunately, nothing particularly exciting is happening in the Caribbean real estate sector at present due to the global recession, in addition to which, Air Passenger Duty (APD) has not helped the situation, as some investors from the UK will undoubtedly opt to pay less taxes to travel to their second/holiday properties by investing in real estate closer to home rather than pay this unfair tax to travel to the Caribbean.
What are your customers demanding more from you at the moment?
There has been an increase for consultancy services to deal with such matters as valuations, surveys, probate and encroachments.
My property law background has been of tremendous benefit for helping clients to both understand and deal with these matters, which are time consuming and extremely stressful for overseas residents.
What social media tool are you using at the moment?
We have not been as proactive as we should be in exploiting social media tools to their full capacity.
However, we are in the process of getting a new website and once live intend to maximise on the most popular social media platforms to raise awareness of the service and also generating new leads.
What is your take on personal business failures?
Where one has failed in business, I say step back, analyse, dust off and go for another business.
I was once told of a gentleman who only achieved success and became a millionaire with his 17th business, the previous 16 having been unsuccessful.
What is difference that is making the difference for success in business at the moment?
We have generated more business this year than in previous years, which we believe is due to the length of time that the company has been in business.
This has generally made clients more confident about doing business with Tropical Connections.