What did you do before DC?
I initially started working in Residential Lettings for Farrar Stead & Glynn on Northcote Road and had been living in and around the Clapham area for years. I moved homes 3 times in quick succession having re-developed them and I think this is where my passion for property first cemented itself. The Clapham market was really booming in the mid-80s and I was perfectly placed to take advantage of it. It was also at this time that I left Farrar Stead & Glynn and set up Jenny Cobb Relocations, which I successfully ran from home, which allowed me the flexibility to work around my family and children.
What made you change career and triggered you to become an entrepreneur?
It was during the downturn of the late 80s that I decided to get back into Lettings and I worked for many of the big established agents such as John D Wood and Savills. I had always wanted to work for myself and be responsible for my own decisions and it was in 1994 that an opportunity to buy the Sales office of Daniel Smith in Kennington materialised. It was initially me and two others working purely in Residential Sales, and after a successful couple of years I decided to rebrand the company to Daniel Cobb.
We developed a strong working relationship with Bellway and when they started to redevelop sites around Bermondsey street we were their exclusive agent, which led to the opening of our London Bridge office in 1997. We opened our Westminster office in 2007.
In Setting up DC what were your core objectives?
My main objectives from the get go were always around providing a better service than anyone else. Having experienced the stresses and difficulties of moving home first hand I wanted to use my experience and expertise to help people and make the process of buying or selling a property much more straightforward and hassle-free.
What makes Daniel Cobb different?
I wanted to use the expertise I had gained and that of my colleagues to give my clients confidence in our knowledge and to be able build a solid foundation of trust; simply put “the right way to do things”.
As a Woman in Business what challenges did you face?
In all honesty looking back I don’t think that I had too many barriers other than my own self-perceived obstacles. Confidence is key and once you overcome any insecurities and believe in yourself there are no barriers to making a success of things. I am also very lucky that my husband, Robert Cobb, was very supportive and as a leading Chartered Surveyor if there was any question I didn’t know the answer to, I had him on hand to help.
What strengths did you bring?
I have always thought of myself as a people person. I have always taken a great deal of interest in people and I have always cared greatly about the outcomes, which is why I think the business has continued to thrive over the years.
What have you learnt?
One of the things I am very aware of is that in business you never stop learning. Business is changing all the time; technology and legislation are constantly evolving and you have to be up to date. This is why I have now brought in my sons, who have younger more energetic shoulders with which to help me carry the company forward.
What elements of your job/business do you find most satisfying?
Initially for me it was all about the thrill of doing the deal, the more complex the better; something to really sink my teeth into. As I have grown with the business I now take great pleasure in seeing my employees grow and develop as they take on more responsibility.
What do you look for in your employees?
I think that the key attributes I always look for are people that are open, honest and confident, because I think those characteristics are crucial to achieving success in the property industry, along with a good work ethic.
As a mother how did you achieve a work/life balance?
With great difficulty in the early years, but being able to work from home helped even if it did mean working late into the night on the company accounts whilst the boys slept. By the time I bought the Kennington office, the boys were in their teens so it became a lot easier to manage.
What advice would you give to others looking to set up their own business?
I would say that it is never too late, I was 45 when I started Daniel Cobb, and having confidence is key to success. If you have an opportunity to take the chance you must believe that you can make it work. Don’t worry about what you don’t know, be confident in what you do know. Concentrate on the core of your business, have a plan and stick to it. Do one thing, and make sure you do it well.