Finding A Voice

Starting a new business is hard. There’s all sorts of legal issues, financial and cash flow issues, designing products and testing processes. But perhaps the hardest thing, and one of the most overlooked, is that of finding the business’ voice.

A business ends up with an identity separate from it’s owner, but linked to it. I like to think of it like having a child – separate from you, but created and moulded by you. Eventually though, it becomes more than you.

So what do I want UpperTree to become? I started it because I was unfulfilled by my day work as a software systems consultant. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, I just needed more. Typing away at a computer all day building very abstract systems wasn’t quite enough, I wanted something concrete. Something I could pick up, touch, and experience. I’ve found building furniture and other wooden items to be exactly that – tactile.

You can feel the raw wood putting splinters in your fingers. You can feel the swish of the plane sweeping over the wood. Finally, you can feel a perfectly smooth piece of wood, no longer splintering. It’s a tactile experience, and I love it so much.

But there’s other things missing in today’s modern world that I’d like to bring back, too. It used to be that you bought a product and it was designed the best it possibly could be. It was designed, and made, to last. You bought a razor, or a saucepan, and it was conceivable that your grandchildren would be using it. Today’s products, unfortunately, are designed to fail. They’re designed to keep you coming back to buy more. And I’d like to change that.

The most important thing any human has is the environment we live in. We only have one planet, and there’s nothing we can do to change that. So it follows that we need to look after it so it can look after us. And products designed to fail don’t do that. They specifically harm the environment to pursue greater profits, and that’s wrong. Don’t get me wrong, profits are fine, but they shouldn’t come from exploiting the environment (or child labour laws, for that matter). True profits come from providing value, and from economies of scale and expertise. Not from drilling the Arctic and burning the Amazon.

So this business is dedicated to the real world – one with real products, useful things, made to last, and that won’t cost the earth. It’s a simple message, and it’s the voice I’m going to give this creation.

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