Happy New Year! We hope your festive season was everything you wanted it to be and you’re feeling suitably braced for whatever 2019 has in store. As we kick-off into January, we’re looking forward to celebrating Planning Ventures 5th birthday this year with a whoop. We set up in 2014 with plenty of enthusiasm but little experience in business (just 20 years of Planning under our belts) and it’s been quite the ride ever since. Reflecting on the journey and looking ahead to 2024, here’s our celebration of lessons learned so far and reasons to make the next 5 years even better…..
Our top five lessons…
- Starting from scratch – as for any new start-up, we’ve had to find our feet. Determined to build a business which celebrates the positive force of Planning and the importance of collaborative working, we founded our brand on the belief that high-quality development can fundamentally affect how people live and respond to space. Plus it’s so important to build good working relationships with case officers, clients and colleagues. It pays dividends to be nice, to be able to laugh with everyone, find joy in our work and ensure the values we believe in permeate into everything we do. We’re constantly pursuing our niche in the market, learning how to target our audience and keep them engaged (all credit to the brilliant Valuable Content, Creative Cadence and Carys-Ink), and we’re determined not to stand still
- Skilling-up – aside from our Planning know-how, we quickly realised we need all manner of other skills to make this thing work. We’ve dragged ourselves into the world of social media (ably supported by the guys at Soello) and endeavour to keep our website current and pertinent. We now understand cashflow, have familiarised ourselves with accountants and lawyers-speak, and within the last year have enlisted the help of a business coach (then wondered how on earth we’d ever got by without her)
- Branching out – we’ve realised the importance of putting ourselves out there, not just in the Planning world, but meeting people from all walks of life who might have a bearing on or benefit from what we are doing. This has, at times, shoved us right outside our comfort zones (one excruciating social media workshop springs to mind), but hopefully with a much more rounded business perspective as a result
- Standing firm – we’ve learnt how to seek and heed advice, to hold our ground on what’s important to us, whether its a project we don’t believe in or client who doesn’t like our advice. It’s really important for us to stand firm, reminding ourselves that we won’t suit everybody and not everybody will suit us
- Keeping current – the recent changes with the NPPF, the ongoing housing shortage and the market uncertainties around BREXIT have meant it’s become more important than ever for us to keep abreast of changes in planning policy and the national direction of travel. Whether following the seminar circuit, joining webinars from our desks or persuading friendly barristers to exchange some training for a free lunch, we’re acutely aware of our responsibility to keep on learning.
And there’s more to come…
- Bigger Adventures In Planning – we’re up for growing the business, meeting new clients, reinforcing our existing ones, exploring different development sectors, sharing our experience where projects have gone well and learning from those that could have been better. It’s critical that we keep both our planning and personal skills evolving, whatever direction we head off in
- Giving Back – it’s really important for us to give back. So in 2019, we’re really proud to be supporting Bristol’s One25, a charity that specialises in helping women to break free from street sex-work and addictions, and build new, independent lives. Along with a team of willing (or not so willing) friends and colleagues, we’ll be doing our bit in May by attempting to complete their 125 mile challenge, potentially taking on Snowdon, an open-water swim and the Bristol 10k, depending on our post-Xmas fitness levels – you’re welcome to come along and join/laugh at us
- Embracing our freelancers – eager to expand on the services we offer, we want to build on our network of support, pulling in specialist expertise under the Planning Ventures umbrella as and when. We’ve developed some great local contacts in the south-west who we really enjoy working with, and long may it continue
- Anticipating change – it goes without saying that we need to be on the ball with what’s happening in the market; 2019 is going to be a turbulent year for the post-Brexit development industry, and it will be interesting to see how the planning system responds. We’ll be watching carefully to see if the Raynsford Review has any effect on Government policy. Plus it will be interesting to see how the recent revisions to the NPPF start to roll out, particularly for urban housing sites and the drive for more efficient use of land, and anticipating their impacts for our clients and projects
- And finally, we want more of you – for us, the success of Planning Ventures is all about our relationships with our clients, colleagues and friends. We value your time, interest and support in what we do, and intend to keep on listening, learning and responding, delivering the best quality service and advice as possible
So, that’s our manifesto for the year ahead, which is more exciting for us than the usual resolutions (although obviously, we’d still both like to get fit). We’re under no illusions that it will be a cakewalk, but it will be fun, challenging and exciting in equal measure. So here’s to 5 years of Planning Ventures. We hope you will help us celebrate this milestone and that you’re still reading about our Adventures In Planning in 2024…..