Creationists will tell you that you can’t beat God. Meteorologists will tell you that you can’t beat nature. And not enough people remind us that our businesses are a small part of the grand scheme of things, whoever or however it was created.
Our successes and failures follow similar cycles to the weather and the harvests. Some years are better than others. In the good years, we all should have been saving for a rainy day. Today is that rainy day, even if it feels like it’s been raining for at least 40 days and nights already.
I’m full of admiration for John Lewis for publicly stating that it won’t be making job cuts, despite considerable economic pressure to do so. I hope they will be rewarded for taking the long term view.
One team that have reaped the benefits of taking a long term view were Team GB at the Beijing Olympics – and thank goodness for them. It might be a stretch to say they lifted spirits across the country – this notion always seems a little vague and somewhat tenuous to me, when 10p off a litre of petrol would probably have a greater impact – but what they did do was give us something new, interesting and positive to talk about. There’s something quite powerful about millions of people passing on good news, feeling like they’re a stakeholder in a world-beating success and in saying: “Yes, wasn’t it fantastic” to the question: “Did you see us win last night?”. Much healthier than: “Isn’t this weather terrible?”
Despite the success we enjoyed in Beijing, the glass half empty brigade have been given too many opportunities to pour scorn on our ability to deliver a games or a medal tally as good as Beijing. To some we’ll be spending too little, to others too much. I wish someone would stand up and stop trying to justify the legacy of the games and just say that we’re doing it purely and simply because it’ll be great fun. That would do for me.
Fun aside, what too few commentators have also failed to mention is how much the Olympics will drive retail sales, probably from at least a year prior to the games. If we can’t make money out of this, we should all pack up now.
Never shy when it comes to innuendo in our brand communications, you can imagine how much fun we’ll have with events like diving, coxless pairs, breast stroke and the clean and jerk. The games will help us create an engaging marketing campaign and drive new product development too, which in turn will grow our business. You’ll only hear me mention this in the context of the London Olympics, but it can’t come quick enough for me.
Right now, just like the next Team GB training for London, our businesses feel a long way from success. But if we take a long term view and accept that these successes come in cycles, we’ll all be contenders come 2012.
Jacqueline Gold is chief executive of Ann Summers