Leah Miller is a property developer and founder of LCM Home.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I started my property development business, LCM Home, in 2019 when I was 22. Having always been interested in renovation and interior design, I wanted a job that was rooted in this passion. My business serves to raise the standard of co-living. House shares often have a bad reputation and I wanted to change people’s perceptions of this lifestyle by converting period and character commercial and residential properties into beautiful modern homes for professionals and families.
Adding value by transforming old properties into aspirational living spaces I think satisfies both my love for creativity and my entrepreneurial streak. I run LCM Home with my mom, who is herself a serial entrepreneur with ventures in personal development, mentorship and marketing.
Going into business with Mom is great. I can understand why some people might feel slightly cautious setting up a family business given the strain it can put on personal relationships. But I think we both bring different things to the table, so our partnership works really well.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I knew that I wanted to run my own business one day and, from my early teens, was always interested in property. I was obsessed with Homes Under The Hammer and found the whole renovation and transformation process really fascinating. I especially loved the part when an estate agent would assess the renovation job and say: “If you sold your property, it would be worth X” and “if you rented it out, you could get X.”
At 16, I read Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad Poor Dad after I heard my mom, who is a business coach, recommend it to one of her friends, and that was a real turning point. realised that property could actually be an amazing income stream and something that I could actually do full time. Given my love and fascination for property, this seemed like the ideal career route for me.
I didn’t go down the property route immediately though. I studied for a business degree at Birmingham City University, graduating in 2018, and then got a job as a marketing assistant at an Audi dealership. I knew that I wanted to run my own business one day and believed that these disciplines would be useful in the real world.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
When we first got into property in 2018, my mom and I started a serviced accommodation business called LCM Apartments where we would manage properties on Airbnb and Booking.com. We’d liaise with estate agents and landlords for corporate letting, but the strategy was labour intensive with very little reward so, after a year, we sold the business. We wanted to focus more on renovations.
Capital can always be an issue when establishing a business, especially with a business like ours that requires substantial sums to start and complete building work. My mom is a natural networker, so I would often accompany her to networking events in order to meet with potential investors to secure funds in return for a stake in the profits, plus interest.
I would say that facing challenges is part and parcel of the entrepreneurial journey. You can’t avoid it, but you can pre-empt it and put measures in place to ensure you can withstand them. You just have to navigate your way around these as best as you can.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Growing the business so that it’s been possible to leave my marketing job has been my proudest achievement so far. It’s nice being able to work for myself and grow the brand. Within the short to medium term I hope to have grown the property portfolio to 12 co-living houses. Alongside flipping properties, I’ve been able to use my marketing skills and knowledge in social media to start developing a YouTube channel that interests property developers (both prospective and existing ones) as well as those who just have a passion for interiors and renovation projects.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I’ve always been a self-starter. I think success first of all comes from an attitude, which is then put into action. I believe a lot of that drive was instilled in me by my mum who has always emphasised just how important it is to work hard at everything we do. Seeing how hard my Mom worked pushed me to do things to the best of my ability. I can’t remember who originally said it but one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard is: “How you do anything, is how you do everything”. And it’s certainly a philosophy that frames my day to day actions.
Also, property is something that people are fascinated in. The UK is a nation of homeowners and the popularity of property renovation TV programmes indicates how interested people generally are in home transformations. I don’t see that fascination changing. The COVID-19 pandemic I think has led people to think more about the versatility of their living spaces in order to accommodate working from home efficiently too. This trend is set to define property design in the future; even as the world returns to ‘normal’, people will want to ensure that their living space is fit for purpose in order to accommodate a more hybrid lifestyle of remote and office / onsite working.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
My mom has made a very successful career from mentoring people, including business leaders and managers, so I completely believe in the transformative effects of mentoring. I’ve seen how important it is to have someone who can give you objective wisdom and be personally invested in your success. It definitely helps when you feel you’ve lost your way in your career. Since I started in property, I’ve had a lot of people who I’d call unofficial mentors who’ve been there for me to help bounce ideas off. Mentoring is not something I’ve ever done personally although, through my YouTube channel, I know that viewers engage with my content for property advice. As I become more seasoned in the field and developed further as an entrepreneur, I’d be happy to take on a mentoring role and share what I have learnt to help others move along in their career and business too.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
When I think about it in the world of property, what perhaps holds women back is a lack of confidence and the general assumption that it’s a ‘man’s world.’ However, I don’t believe that there is anything structurally holding women back from succeeding in this field these days (although back in the day, women used to need a male to sign for mortgage). You definitely have to be an effective sales person, a greater presenter and be creative in your vision from a design perspective in order to succeed in property. But, as with anything: if there are more female role models around in careers where there is a clear gender imbalance, then hopefully that will encourage other women to follow suit and not be intimidated by the prospect of being a minority in a specific sector.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Don’t sweat about specific situations or certain people who upset or irritate you. If you look at the bigger picture, in the longer term, it just won’t matter. Focus on the here and now.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I hope to grow the business and keep going, renovating interesting buildings and also growing my YouTube channel.
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