Ticking over. That’s the most accurate description of business at Mole Graphics right now.
Customers don’t seem to want to make long-term plans until you-know-what is resolved. As a species, we are hard-wired to struggle with uncertainty - it usually makes us want to take ‘flight or fight’. It doesn’t help that, through volatile financial markets, digital technology and the profusion of 24/7 media, we have effectively created mechanisms that are very efficient at spreading fear and anxiety almost instantly around the globe. Not just spreading fear and anxiety, but amplifying it.
There is a lot to worry about. The B-word, Trump, the fact that the Amazon rainforest is ablaze and the return of Strictly Come Dancing (which always necessitates a certain amount of negotiation in the Mole household) are all, in their very different ways, troubling. Yet it is important to remember the good stuff - West Ham look decent this season, there is a lot of good TV about (I just watched Chernobyl which was simply mesmerising, best thing I’ve seen in years) and, even at a time when the country seems to have collectively lost the plot, business at Mole Graphics is still ticking over. Most customers - bless them! - are placing orders.
This year may not be as good for Mole Graphics as 2018, but it will still probably be better than I feared this time last year. And that’s kind of the point isn’t it? Too many people seem to have forgotten the message in that famous warning: “Your income from shares can go down as well as up.” In business, as in life, there are periods where you are marking time - where we display what management consultants call ‘resilience’. This seems, right now in the British wide-format sector, to be one of those times, although that shouldn’t stop us reflecting on the future.
I’ve always liked the story about the French marshal who asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener replied that the tree was slow-growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The marshal said: “In that case, there is no time to lose, plant it this afternoon.”