How Sean Hersee Went From Painter to Property Investor


As the son of a painter, the trade of painting houses is well and truly in Sean Hersee’s blood. However, so is being an entrepreneur.

Since joining Business Blueprint, Sean has gone from a tradesman working around the clock to the Director of the Newcastle region’s most successful painting business, SAGE Painting.

These days, instead of working up a sweat with a paintbrush, Sean is more likely to be sweating it out training for a triathlon. Having grown his business to a point where he is managing a team rather than working all day himself, Sean has also been able to build his personal property portfolio in order to create a secure future for himself and his family.

In his own words: Sean’s journey

“Starting my painting business was one of the first biggest leaps I have ever made. I had worked for my father’s painting business for 10 years and after moving through the ranks of apprentice, tradesman and supervisor I couldn’t move any higher. I saved up money for tools and borrowed against my home to buy my first van before setting out on my own.

The first few years was all about building for me, building clients, building a reputation and building some capital behind me to reinvest back into the business and grow into the vision I had of running a team of painters. I didn’t really know what is was like to run a business at this time. If you asked me what marketing was, I don’t think I could have answered you.

It was a big moment to hire my first employee and get a taste for delegation! The feeling you get when you don’t have to do everything yourself is magical for the first time. I started a course called Apprentice to Business Owner with a guy call Kel Thompson, who is now still a mentor and great friend. Kel was doing a course called Business Blueprint and encouraged me to attend one of their events. This was definitely one of the biggest decisions I have made and I think it was the turning point of what was to be massive growth. The Business Blueprint program was what helped me start to learn what was important to build a business.”

Achieving rapid growth

“Being the first painter in Newcastle to have social media accounts, web sites and knowing what to do with them was what really helped our brand grow. We always wanted to be perceived as the higher quality painters in the city, so completing every job to best of our ability and delivering the most value to our clients was what we had to do.

This alone wasn’t going to be enough so having the Business Blueprint education was what I believe the key to give my business the edge on its branding. With these two combined, it seemed to be the right mix and over a three year period we have now taken the team to a size of 23 full time painters.

I believe that although your team may never do what you want them to do all the time, there is no reason why you can’t build systems and processes for them to follow so they are doing what you ask most of the time. I had to start looking at the company as ours, not mine. I sat down with the team to discuss what our purpose was, how we were going to deliver this and make sure we all knew what everyone’s role was to get to where we were headed. Once this was in place, great things start to happen.”

For us, systems are what I like to call problem solvers. I certainly can’t be there every time someone needs help to solve a problem, so we get the team to use out intranet to help solve the issue they have. If it’s not there, we plan it out into a flow chart so it is there for next time.
Systems are important for us as we may have up to 10 jobs running at any one time. The systems help with the setting up of the job, actions to complete during the job and the procedures of completing a job.

I think systems are definitely one of the most important parts of business growth and even more important to franchise or sell your business in the future.”

From painter to property investor

“I remember when I was 23 I was working on a project for a Newcastle property investor and he told me, “You need to buy a house ASAP, like, next week”.

At the time, I had just saved up enough money to go and travel Europe with my future wife. I thought, “Now is not the right time, I’m heading overseas soon”. He said you need to focus on the things that make you money and let them work for you.

I decided to use a good chunk of money to purchase a house. We still left for our 10 month overseas adventure and had people rent the house while we were away.

Since then, I have used my business profits to reinvest back into property and let my income produce more income. As soon as we can gather enough for another deposit we are out there looking for the next best deal. Eventually we will have a portfolio of homes to give us enough passive income to support our desired lives with hopefully an early retirement.”

Pursuing personal goals

“As I started to gain extra time and I need a quick break from business, I decided to by a quality road bike to help with fitness and a passion of riding. This soon lead to setting a goal of completing a triathlon. It may have only been a small sized race at the time but I went on to win. I developed a bug for wanting to go on and complete longer distances in the sport of triathlon.”

“After completing a number of races, I set my eyes on the biggest of all races in the sport, a full Ironman distance triathlon. Training for such an event requires over 20 hours a week so having flexible work hours meant I could train at the times which was convenient for me. In 2016 I went on to achieve my goal in a time of twelve hours and 3 minutes.”

Blueprint for success

Sean’s business is now in the position where it is manageable from a distance and he can start to think about a new venture, be it franchising or setting up his business in other areas.

With his strong business management knowledge and over 120 systems in place, Sean is confident in his organisation and his team. For this business owner, the future is painted bright.

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