Running a "successful" timber business over the past two years has not been easy. If the media are to be believed it's about to get a whole lot harder with a construction industry led, double dip recession about to descend on us.
How should we respond? Probably by starting out defining the word "success". I spend a lot of my time pondering this one because when I use the word I don't really mean money (bad sign in a businessman I know).
Many funding institutions see success purely in terms of profit and loss, yet I know of extremely admirable businesses in the timber industry that never make money. They do 'good' in terms of the contribution they make to our world often by preserving old skills, innovating or just simply being extremely pleasant to deal with.
For those of us in business that do need to make money, is success only about pleasing customers? I would hate to think that we make profit yet customers despise the company. Likewise it would be unfulfilling to only make money at the expense of employing miserable staff.
So what the heck is success then? I think in Timbmet it's a two dimensional challenge. It's about a happy community of people, the staff, pleasing a loyal group of followers, the customers. If this sounds simplistic let me tell you that in my experience it's very hard to achieve. Very profitable companies can have very miserable employees, and many happy companies have gone bust.
In commerce it may appear that money is everything but how many wealthy people get their private lives awfully wrong? Did they forget that happiness has to come first? I say the best advice to anyone worrying about the looming threat of a further recession is try to stay happy and enjoy what you do.
Personal success should ultimately be measured by the proportion of my day spent smiling. I try to be good to people, both colleagues and customers.
It may sound awfully flowery and twee but my experience tells me that I am least successful when I fail with people, not money.