I started Ashfield Land in 1990 with my co-founder and long-term business partner Robin Faber. It’s been a great journey. We’ve grown the business, navigated our way through several economic and property cycles, and delivered deals and developments to be proud of.
But nothing lasts forever and one thing I learned early was to take control of change. Anticipate, plan, adjust, be ready. Because, as someone once said, it’s as simple as ‘adapt or die’.
Change is topical as we start October for lots of reasons. By the end of this month, we’re supposed to be out of the EU. And you don’t need me to tell you that’s going to make a massive difference.
That’s transition at a big scale. An end of moving in one direction (ie integration) to go in a new direction (ie the UK within the world not within the continent).
Lots has been said and written about how this will affect property companies and our sector. I wrote previously that I’m a glass half full kind of person. I continue to feel the same. We need to play what’s in front of us, make the most of the opportunities in the market and not allow fear or fear of failure to paralyse us. Inertia is the biggest enemy of the property market.
On a related theme, we’ve making some changes within our own business. From a position of strength, we’re looking ahead at what we need to do to stay effective and enjoy another 30 years of successful trading.
That’s why we have brought in a new Non Executive Chairman – Ian Playford – this summer to help us test some of our thinking and bring in some new ideas. Ian has a fantastic CV and many years of experience of working with property (and other) businesses to deliver. Now he’s working with us to look ahead and evolve the business.
What’s my assessment? That a fresh set of eyes is welcome. Ian and I share the same views on the key principles for running a business: trust in your talent and, above all else, create the right conditions to get the best from the potential of your people.
I think the next three months are going to be lively and interesting in every respect. By the end of this year, we could all be getting used to living and working in a whole new way if the Prime Minister, as he says, is determined to bring the UK out of the EU on 31 October ‘do or die’.
At Ashfield Land, we’ll be ready for that. Then looking further ahead, I’m confident to say we’ll be ready for our next chapter as a business as we evolve and, with Ian’s input, organise ourselves for the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Property is exciting, dynamic, rewarding and never entirely predictable – that’s why I love the industry and so many of us do too.
It follows therefore that change is inevitable. But it’s not change that matters, it’s how we deal with that change.
To borrow and adjust someone else’s phrase, ‘take control’. Embrace change and face it with optimism. We will all be better placed to benefit.