I don’t want to be the next Steve Jobs, Richard Branson or Alan Sugar. Just thought I’d put that out there because, after attending a seminar the other day, I learned something - but what I learned was the exact opposite of the lesson the seminar was supposed to teach us.
The seminar highlighted the all-consuming need to be innovative to survive in what one of the speakers called “the hyper-competitive, digitally-empowered, technologically-disrupted, globalised economy”. I must admit that, after a while, I began to play buzzword bingo with all those hyphenated compound adjectives.
What I’m going to say next will make me sound horribly complacent. I don’t regard innovation as an all-consuming need. Why not? Because my main ambition is to leave this business in a better state than when I took over - and make a comfortable living while running it. I don’t have ambitions to double my turnover in five years because, as Billy Joel said about clever conversations, I don’t want to work that hard. And I know it’s corny, but I do feel that you don’t own your company you merely curate it for the next generation.
That said, it’s hard to say if any of the younger members of the Mole family will want to take this on. The youngest is still quite keen to be an astronaut, and the others are too focused on exams, Snapchat and Pokemon Go (not necessarily in that order) to be thinking clearly about how they’d like to earn a living.
The perception today is that you can’t run a company in any sector unless you work 24/7, are so determined to reach the top that you’ll be as unprincipled as a contestant on The Apprentice and turn every threat into an opportunity.
In the real world, outside business schools, many companies have a simple five-year plan: survival. And when they hear consultants talk about the need to develop resilience, they immediately think of their cash in the bank. If I have a role model, it is probably Lord Melbourne, the Victorian prime minister who said: “When it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.” Cynical but it’s a lot closer to how I - and many of my fellow print service providers think - than exhortations full of compound adjectives.
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