Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day again. And, just like I did every March 8 for the past 7 years, I have thought of one woman in particular: my great companion Noor Huitema. Without this woman, I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to start a business. Sure, I might have been a lost freelancer taking on little jobs, but starting a business? To achieve that, I really needed my business ‘other half’ – and that’s Noor.
When we started our joint adventure ‘Copper8’ 7 years ago, we made a lot of surprising decisions; at least, that’s what other people said. We made these decisions with the aim of making ourselves dispensable to our customers; isn’t it crazy if your customers remain dependent on your knowledge? If that’s the case, as a consultant, you have a perverse incentive to spend as many hours as possible on one customer. No, we were going to do it differently. So we decided to work for four days a week – after all, the Dutch for Friday – vrijdag – translates as ‘free day’. And we also decided to quit after 7 years.
Quitting sounds pretty definitive, but for us, it has always been an important checkpoint for taking stock together. Unlike in most companies, infinity is not a given; for us, continuing is a deliberately considered choice – one that’s healthy to check in on every few years. We do this by answering two questions:
- Are we still needed?
- Do we still like what we’re doing?
So, after 7 years, it’s time to take stock…
Are we needed? Unfortunately, that’s a definite ‘yes’. Our mission has always been to understand that the transition to the circular economy is not just a technical problem; it also requires a different way of working together, different economic principles. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet: invariably, initiatives are entered into from a technical standpoint. But the transition craves systems thinkers like us, who can set entire value chains in motion.
Do we still like it? Fortunately, that’s also a definite ‘yes’! Admittedly, though very seldom, we think back to when it was just the two of us – we knew exactly how the other person worked, and exactly where and how we complemented each other. But it’s so much more fun with a team: we can now look back on 10x more impact, which makes us proud. And to all the people who hope we find success by growing our team: it’s not about the numbers, when you work with the most fun and most driven people in the world.
Taking stock after 7 years, the conclusion is clear: we will continue!