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Street smarts, market knowledge, creativity and determination - what actually makes a successful developer?

Dan Holden, director of HoldenCAPITAL Partners discusses what makes a successful developer.

This is a question that Dan Holden, director of HoldenCAPITAL Partners is constantly asked. There is an assumption that as a successful construction finance broker, he will have a pretty good handle on it, and to some extent, he feels that is true.

But developers come in all different guises and defining their success can be looked at from many different perspectives. Certainly, in his experience, very few successful ones fall into the stereotypical snappy suited, white shoe, Ferrari driving slick image that some elements of the press are prone to promote.

In Dan's experience, most successful developers fall into one of two primary categories. The first is the developer who evolved into the role, either by way of an associated discipline resulting in a decision to cross over or by virtue of having undertaking a development through an associated business and finding that they had the taste or aptitude for it, took the decision to expand on the experience.

This tends to reflect the journey of many of HoldenCAPITAL Partners' clients, many of whom successfully transitioned into the role with a clear understanding of the various skill sets required to navigate the whole development process. As Dan has previously written, developers need to be multi-skilled in the importance of understanding what they don’t know and ensuring that they find the right support to fill those gaps is a key skill owned by most successful developers.
Dan notes that "sadly a few fail to grasp that concept and come to the party with one set of skills and believing that they can still work their way through the remaining disciplines by sheer force of personality rather than developing a wider range of skills or paying for them. These are the most difficult to deal with and to be honest, HoldenCAPITAL Partners' try and weed them out early in the process to save both sides from disappointment".

The other and less common route taken is where someone finds himself or herself drawn to the process, often at a young age, and they discover they have a natural talent for it. They might also have begun the journey working in an associated discipline but always had their eye on the end game and used that process as stepping stone in their long-term plan to hone their skills and become a developer. These are usually the most passionate and visionary of their breed and tend to have an innate understanding of shifting market demand and how to innovate in order to satisfy it.

"Naturally, there are some who have the self-belief but not the talent to pull it off and HoldenCAPITAL Partners' challenge is to either help educate them to the benefits of supplementing their team with appropriate expertise or politely advising that they can't assist.

Obviously, there are many shades of grey at play here but as always, the key skill that sets a successful developer apart from his peers is the ability to recognise what he doesn’t know and engage the right consultant/resource to fill the gap."

So the old adage that knowledge is power is as relevant to development as any other situation in life but you then need to know how to apply it in order to reap the benefits and that is where Dan sees the successful developers shine out.

"HoldenCAPITAL's role is to deliver the best available financial solutions to enable their developer clients to achieve their goals and a key part of that process is HoldenCAPITAL's knowledge of their own sector and their ability to then plug the gaps in the process and deliver. 

"I like to think we too are an important part of what makes a successful developer," Mr Holden said.