Greg Limb, Head of KPMG Private Client, interviews entrepreneur Ian Townsend. Ian who has spent a number of years building up and then selling businesses, explains how the challenge of getting to grips with something new has now led him into new ‘lifestyle’ related ventures.
Ian, with his is roots firmly in Harrogate, started out as an accountant and set up his own accountancy practice. Using the experience of running his own business and advising clients he decided he should take a risk and applied his learnings to investing in, developing and ultimately selling a number of different businesses.
Ian’s overriding philosophy is that people are key to success; whether they are part of his own team or running the businesses in which he is investing. After that, he believes you should always have a ‘plan B’, as so often ‘plan A’ doesn’t work out!
One example is an orthopedic manufacturing business, operated from Sheffield, which he co-founded. Ian invested time and energy, growing the business organically. But to expand further, the business needed more backing. With the help of KPMG and various other advisors, the business was floated on AIM in 2000 – a very proud moment! This gave the company the currency with which to make acquisitions and diversify away from its dependency on one particular area.
Five years ago Ian was asked to get involved with a business which helps companies ensure contractors coming onto their site, fully comply with rigorous health and safety legislation. Ian saw the potential of this sector and liked the people. Now with a strong business model and a great team, the company is growing; Ian estimates at around 40% p.a., as the benefits of their systems become widely appreciated.
Recently Ian has been investing some of his time in what he describes as ‘lifestyle’ related activities.
Rising to the challenge of managing, or perhaps more realistically moving with, the unpredictable influence of the weather, Ian and his family have established a vineyard in North Yorkshire. They launched into this project as it presented an incredibly interesting challenge, whilst bringing together not only the whole family but also many of the local residents.
Whilst renovating a property with his wife, they came across some historic artefacts. These were the catalyst for another new venture. Driven by his love of history, Ian has now risen to the challenge of not just writing, but also publishing his first novel Precarious Fortunes. With the storyline set in 1838 and based in his historic home town of Harrogate, Ian has written the gripping tale of Angela Burdett Coutts, who was described by King Edward VII as “the most remarkable woman in the kingdom”.
Ian’s next challenge is to convert the novel into a script and convince a TV company or studio to produce a film/TV version of this 19th century period drama.
Ian has found a theme in his life, to take life's chances which he espouses at every opportunity. This has led him down some unexpected but very rewarding avenues. He is now looking to see where it takes him next!