Multi-millionaire learns about property investing by watching Samuel Leeds’ YouTube video
Ruaraidh Macleod smoked his first joint when he was just 12 and also began drinking heavily to distract himself from an unhappy home life. Despite this unpromising start, Ruaraidh went on to establish the UK’s biggest guttering business now turning over £8m annually. Along the way he discovered Scientology and he has also branched out into property investing – helped by Samuel Leeds’ YouTube training videos.
‘I learned about business early in life through necessity’
Property Investors founder Samuel Leeds says most of the wealthy business people he knows had a paper round as a child. Samuel had one and so did Ruaraidh Macleod.
When Ruaraidh was 12, his parents split up, and he was forced to make some money to supplement the family’s meagre income. So, he went to work for a newsagent’s in the village of Duntocher in Scotland.
The youngster got paid 75p an hour to deliver newspapers and worked in the evenings and on Sundays to build up a paper round. Soon he was making £30 a week.
“In those days, that was a fortune. That was the money I used to live on – well, more to fund my extracurricular activities – but I did learn about having to work hard to make money,” he recalls.
“Even on the paper round, which was quite large, I had to do some basic administration, like keeping a log of who paid what and counting my money. I also had to buy the newspapers. I made a profit and that was the money for the papers the next week.
“My business brain was beginning to form at that age. It was more out of necessity than anything else. Other children got pocket money from their parents and I suppose I resented them because they would use that to get a drink at the weekend, whereas I had to work for my money.
“Now I look back and realise it was a gift from God because I really learned at a very young age how you make money.”
Ruaraidh worked hard to make a success of himself but he also played hard. When he was only 12 and still at primary school, he was offered a spliff. It coincided with his parents separating and his mother also experiencing severe mental health issues.
“I remember smoking it and feeling elated and out of it which for me was a nice experience because at the time it was a bit rough at home.”
He experienced the same sensation with drinking. “I had my first drink when I was 12 as well. I had three bottles of cider with a friend. We would go out and get drunk and then I just started doing that every weekend. That’s when I would sit in my room, play my computer, work and go and get drunk and take drugs.”
University was a waste of time
By the time Ruaraidh was in his twenties, he had been to art school and got a degree in business, but it didn’t help him to achieve his dreams. His first job after leaving university was in a call centre earning £12,000 a year, selling car insurance and commuting two hours a day by car.
His life was unsatisfactory in other ways. He longed to have a relationship with a woman but felt too inhibited to form one. Help came from the Church of Scientology, which gave him the tools he needed to improve his situation, he says.
After going on a detox, which cleaned him up physically, Ruaraidh enrolled on some practical business courses. As a result of this training, he set up a stair cleaning business in Edinburgh.
“I had a real stigma about doing it because I had a degree, and here I was mopping and cleaning stairs. But I quickly saw that I could grow the business and actually make a lot of money doing it which I did. I got to the point where I was making in a day what most people were making in a week.”
The young entrepreneur saw his contracts shoot up quickly from eight to 50 using the principles he had learnt through Scientology.
He met his future wife through the church, as well as his business partner, Stuart Guy.
Scientology has been steeped in controversy over the years and described as a cult, but Ruaraidh says it helped him to turn around his life at a time when he felt broken and lost.
“All Scientology is and has ever been is something that gives you really effective tools which you can use in your life. It helped me with communication and business, and I make no secret of my passion for it.”
Discovering the power of property at an early age
The 42-year-old describes his four years at university as a complete waste of time. He used to sleep through the lectures and whenever he picked up a book, he would nod off.
Like the business courses Ruaraidh went on with the Church of Scientology, which included videos and practical examples, he found Samuel Leeds’ online content easy to understand.
Ruaraidh had seen at an early age how money could be made in the housing market. His father, who was a teacher, bought properties below market value, doing them up and then selling them for a profit.
“My dad had bought and sold about seven houses by the time I was nine. We moved a lot, and I saw how he was making money through property.”
Ruaraidh also experienced both sides of the social divide growing up. He lived just outside Glasgow in Clydebank, a predominantly working class area, and in Bearsden, a more affluent neighbourhood.
Property came to the fore again when his business partner Stuart introduced him to Samuel’s YouTube videos about two years ago and they started watching them together.
“What Samuel does is he will show you a real-life example of a house and explain in detail the different ways you can buy it. There’s so much information there for someone who doesn’t know about buying or renting a property and the content is very well laid out. You’re given lots of examples – he shows pictures and films which help you understand more about a subject than just the written word,” says Ruaraidh.
With the knowledge he and Stuart had gained, they bought a barn with land for £450,000, using some of their own money and a bridging loan. They originally agreed to pay £500,000 but renegotiated after having it valued at £450,000 and finding out there was Japanese knotweed on the site. They spent around £60,000 on renovating the barn for domestic use and now rent that out, along with a commercial barn in the grounds. The site is now worth in the region of £700,000, but they don’t plan to sell it any time soon as it is producing a healthy rental income.
Together Stuart and Ruaraidh own six commercial properties. Ruaraidh has also bought a bungalow in West Sussex where he now lives. He drove past it one day and saw that it stood in a large plot. It had two bedrooms and three reception rooms, as well as a huge back garden. He saw the potential to create a four-bed property and had his offer of £350,000 accepted.
The businessman then put £100,000 into extending the rear of the bungalow and giving it a makeover inside and out. The improvements included a new bathroom suite, large patio doors, a smart-looking driveway and landscaped gardens. The plumbing and electrics were also replaced. He then moved in and had it revalued at £550,000, giving him a profit on paper of £100,000.
If he sells the bungalow, he will not have to pay any capital gains tax because the property is his primary residence.
Ruaraidh owns the house he is living in for business reasons, but like Samuel agrees that it is best to rent your home to avoid tying up your own money.
“I’ve always rented properties over the last 10 years. The main upset I have with owning your own house is you have to have a large chunk of cash sitting in it. When I say sitting in it it’s not true. The large chunk of cash goes to the bank which uses your money to make more money, so I'm better off taking that money and investing it myself.”
This is why, even though his business, Bens Gutters Limited, is doubling in size every year and turning over millions, he never has much cash in the bank.
“I never really hold cash. Generally, I will borrow money to do things like this. If you can borrow money to do a deal, which gives you a profit, you then get cash flowing back once the debt is repaid. If you just slam your £200,000 into a property, then it limits what you can do.”
- Having an employee or a business partner is like having a wife. To find someone you trust, look at the whole person. For instance, if they talk negatively about others, ask yourself why you’re going to be any different. If they’re unfaithful to their partner, why will they be faithful to you? It’s important to look at their track record as well and get referrals. I use a recruitment company to get my senior managers.
- Establish your goals and write them down. Tell someone you trust about your dreams. The more you look at your objectives and talk about them, the better your chances are of achieving them.
- Walk away if the deal doesn’t quite stack up. I did that with a large property development. I was unhappy with the return compared to the work it would involve.
- Education is about gaining knowledge for use. There’s no point in going to university if you don’t know why you’re learning a particular subject. If you want to be the owner of a big construction company, get a job in construction and work your way up.
Samuel Leeds’ verdict
“Ruaraidh’s story is so inspirational. He’s done some incredible deals in property over the last couple of years. He’s just someone who gets up and goes. He’s a doer which is why he is such a successful businessman.
“It’s great to see Ruaraidh doing well with his investments in property and to see that my online training has helped him so much. That gives me a lot of satisfaction. I follow him on Instagram now and he always seems to be having a good time when he’s going about business. I think that’s really important, as well as walking away from deals sometimes when they don’t tick all the boxes.”
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