Meet Jane Ashford
Our founder Jane Ashford was featured as UAE Entrepreneur on UAEDNA
Tell us about yourself.
My passion is international trade and enterprise, specifically assisting companies and individuals to set up their business in the region in a safe and secure environment. I work with foreign companies and individuals wanting to start businesses in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Oman. I have assisted over 200 companies to establish their operations in the region and have acted as a professional corporate local partner for foreign companies in order to ensure that they comply with local commercial law. With 10 years’ experience in international business development, strategic planning and management consultancy, I thrive on finding business-friendly solutions in perplexing legal environments and across jurisdictions.
I am the Founder and Director of PRO Partner Group, a company which prides itself on its integrity. We assist companies and investors setting up and expanding in the region. Client companies range from multi-national to one person start-ups. Our services include full local partner services along with company formation assistance – business setup – licenses, visas and support services.
How did this business name came about? Pro Partner Group – we offer a professional partnership to those wanting to set up their business in the UAE as well as having a team of fluent Arabic PRO’s for those already set up here. We combined the two services to create our name – Pro Partner Group
How did you start your business? I set up the company in Qatar initially. The company grew very successfully and after 5 years we expanded into the UAE. Many of our Qatar clients were asking for help to expand into the UAE, so it was a natural progression for us.
Why did you decide to go into this line of business in the UAE? Dubai is the hub of the Middle East, its where East meets West. Many clients want to set up here for the obvious reasons, a dynamic city with a hospitable tax system and a location that is perfectly placed as a hub between Europe and the Far East. Existing clients were looking to establish in the UAE and therefore it made sense to be here to help them.
What were the highs and lows of setting up your business? High and Low Moments People compare running your own business to bringing up a child or having a romantic relationship – more often than not it’s a total rollercoaster. But if you love and believe in what you are doing , it can also be the most rewarding job in the world. There are a lot of challenges with starting a company, so it has to be something you enjoy! I particularly enjoy seeing a company I set up, thrive in their new environment.
What was your best day at work? I don’t have a particular best day. The job means that each day is different and challenging and that’s what I like best. Each company I set up has needs a different services tailored specifically for them and these challenges are exciting to me, it gives me a real sense of achievement.
What was your worst day at work? No business day is easy, especially in the early days. The long hours when we started out were particularly hard, but starting a business is hard work. The benefit of that to me is that, from these lows I have a better understanding of how to support my clients when I am helping them set up.
How did you manage to fund or finance your business? I prefer not to borrow and to date I have been lucky and managed to self fund the business, without having to resort to bank loans, etc.
Who has been your greatest influence in setting up this venture? My husband has been a great support, he has been behind me all the way.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs when setting up their businesses? Persevere, stay positive, believe in what you are doing and be determined – these are all qualities that you will need to be successful. Its not so much about the ideas that you have but more about making those ideas reality. There is an old Chinese proverb which says; ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’
Describe any amusing or strange experiences, or interesting moments (an incident that happened that you will never forget) that took place while establishing or running your business. There have been many, every day is interesting when you are working with people from different cultures.
Outline the reasons why your business succeeded and any particular factors that influenced your success. Determination and the drive to succeed along with having good ethics and honesty. We are a service industry and therefore, ‘The Team’ is what makes the company work. I have been fortunate to employ the right team, who have the knowledge and are professional enough to understand the clients needs.
Did you ever think you will be what you are today? Yes. I had the vision and the determination to achieve this from the beginning and the support to make it happen. This is what we now provide to our clients who set up here and I thrive off seeing their success now too.
Outline your future plans for your business. As well as growing in the UAE, we now have a presence in Oman and we look forward to growing that area over the next year. Our clients often lead the way. They appreciate our service and ask us to set them up in their next destination, this repeat business gives us organic growth.
Outline any important lessons you learned along the way or ways in which you would have done things differently. Its not so much lessons learned from my own mistakes but from hearing other peoples. It is very important to have a strong and trustworthy support team behind you to ensure that you are set up legally and safely. This is what we provide to our clients.
Describe the defining moment that made you feel certain that your business is going in the direction you want it to go. Looking back at the end of each year at the number of companies we have set up accumulate and seeing how they are thriving in their new environment makes me realise it is all going in the right direction. I feel particularly like this when clients return to use for their next expansion.
What is the single most important decision you made that contributed to your business? Not to give up. To keep going through the hard times when giving up would have been the easy option.