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Winter is Here - Take Advantage!

Architect & Builder Magazine
February/March 2021

By Frederich van Niekerk

Executive Director, Agora Africa

We have all experienced some sort of change in our business careers. A wise man once said: “Nothing in life is certain, the only certainty is change”. Does this mean we should simply accept our fate and wait it out? Of course not: The key is to anticipate the change and to adapt effectively to it before the impact is irreversible.

We live in strange times, unfamiliar territory and, on a daily basis, everyone is scrambling to keep afloat, not knowing what lies around the next corner. And yet: Perhaps it is time to change our mindset before we attempt to conform or adapt to our environment.

Nowadays, every conversation inadvertently turns to the infamous Covid-19 topic. Negativity, pessimism, uncertainty and panic has become part and parcel of our lives. My philosophy has always been: You can either accept the reality that you are given, or you can change your own reality. It starts with your mindset. Creativity abhors pessimism or discouragement: You can only be truly creative if you are content. Remember, life and business work much like the seasons. Just as we experience seasons in nature, we experience seasons in the business world. It is a cycle that inevitably repeats itself regularly. The secret is to learn how to handle the winter and take advantage of the spring, in short that is it. Winter always comes, but so does the spring, surely the tide goes out, but it always comes back in.

Opportunity follows difficulty as surely as difficulty follows opportunity. The way we should handle the winters is to anticipate the difficulties that accompanies the winter, to prepare for the challenge and to realise that it will come to pass. A fully well developed businessman or woman will find a way take advantage of the winter, not just handle it.  The big challenge is to make something out of each opportunity.

Let us be frank: South Africa faces various challenges in the midst of this pandemic. One of these is investors’ confidence. It is common knowledge that investment is directly related to risk. As professionals in the property development landscape, we have the keys to effectively de-risk investment opportunities to a large extent, enabling developers to package an investment deal that makes sense.

At AGORA AFRICA we made the decision from the outset to reach beyond our standard scope of service and, to partner with likeminded companies and people who share our philosophy. In the words of the great Henry Ford: “The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.” The construction industry comprises various professionals and specialists, each doing their utmost to survive. However, I firmly believe that, through cooperation and a collective effort, we can empower our clients with valuable keys that are required to unlock the property development landscape.

In this way, we can become the creators of our own destiny – a far cry from being pessimistic about our current circumstances. By reaching beyond our specialities and by being willing to think out of the box, we can improve our chances of success. Perhaps we can inspire other professionals and specialists in the industry to share this approach with us and as a result, change the reality in which we find ourselves. In fact, we must change our attitudes and mindsets, think beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, and adapt. For change is inevitable and if you fail to adapt rapidly and effectively you will be left behind.this approach with us and as a result, change the reality in which we find ourselves. In fact, we must change our attitudes and mindsets, think beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, and adapt. 

For change is inevitable and if you fail to adapt rapidly and effectively you will be left behind.

We are fortunate enough to live in a well-advanced technological era – the advantage is that we are all connected by the press of a button. Communication and connectivity are much easier than ever before, moreover, we all became accustomed to conducting our business online. We have online meetings and share information on virtual platforms. This “winter that we find ourselves in”, has forced us all to adapt to the closest most logical resource that allows us to continue our business – and, unknowingly and unexpectedly, give us a significant advantage in terms of our most valuable asset: Time! This is the one commodity that we cannot recoup – yet this “winter” has given us much to gain! We must change our mindset and realise that winter does indeed have many advantages. For one, it forces us out of our comfort zones and pushes us into survival mode, with the inevitable return of growth. Also, we rethink our way of doing business, with the unlikelihood of returning to previous ways.

Winter forces us to think about how and on what we should spend our energy and resources; it compels us to cast aside cumbersome procedures, streamline important processes and prepare ourselves for growth. After all, isn’t that the purpose of winters? To give us time to prepare for the work that lies ahead when the sun lifts higher above the horizon and the days get warmer. For we know that, when the work rolls in, our preparations will also bear the fruit that we planned on. Embrace the winter and its opportunities, and always know: After the harshest winter follows the sweetest spring.

Winter is Here - Take Advantage! | AGORA AFRICA