From the start he showed himself to be particularly adept in the choice and terms of an enterprise and in the exchange or sale of an existing holding when he was anxious to purchase a new lease or a share of an existing colliery. In the case of his first venture, at Plas Bedwellty, when he took out a lease in partnership with Prothero, he in turn sold his share to Prothero in 1827, but later once again returned to the partnership. In 1831 he took out a lease on Buttery Hatch with William Howells, but, ten years later, he was in partnership there with Prothero. Another partner was James Morrison, with whom he took a lease on the Penmaen level in 1841, but Prothero, a fellow spirit in hard bargaining, was his favoured companion. They worked together again at Blaencyffin, above Llanhilleth, where they secured a lease in 1832, although two years later Powell had departed. Financial manipulation was the principal feature of Powell's early career, and it is well shown in his activity at Hafodyrisclawdd,12 a small level above Argoed. The level was opened by John Yemm and William Protheroe. In 1835, Thomas Powell, on behalf of himself and Thomas Prothero, bought Yemm's half-share. Then, four years later, it was arranged for William Protheroe to assign his half-share to Powell in discharge of a debt to him. The following year Powell bought out Thomas Prothero's remaining interest to secure the total ownership for himself. All this time Powell was re-investing the profits that he made; he lived without ostentation or social pretension. But overdrafts from the bank were in inevitable consequence of his expanding business, and Wilkins illustrates his aggressive self- confidence and will to succeed in giving Powell's answer in response to one of his bankers' fears: 'I cannot do it yet, but if you pull me down, I will pull you down with me'. Capital outlay was much smaller in these early years than in Powell's later career, particularly in the case of levels. When he bought out Prothero at Hafodyrisclawdd in 1840 the total value of the level was only £ 2,200; and when the established Rock Colliery was purchased by the Victoria Coal & Iron Co. in 1836 for £ 22,000, the price was considered excessive. But the risks involved need to be appreciated, particularly in the case of a new venture. The formation of the seams of coal was uncertain and there was always the danger of a setback from inundation or explosion. The terms of the initial lease were critical to the success of a venture; it was possible for an imprudent newcomer to enter upon a lease at a time of booming prices when the level of the royalty demanded was too high. Even in a working colliery careful budgeting could not always meet unexpected calls on top of high labour costs and royalties, and the price of coal at the Newport wharves fluctuated widely. Powell survived all the vicissitudes of an entrepreneur's life, but many over-reached themselves. The Allfrey Bros. failed at Abercam owing huge sums, and in a smaller way the solicitor, W.T.H. Phelps, failed at the New Waterloo Colliery when he unwisely took on a sub-lease from Thomas Prothero.