Could You Be a Model Natural Entrepreneur?

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When young people tell me they agree with my prognosis for the future of our planet, and ask me what they should do, I ask them to learn how the world works, and learn about better ways to live, and then be a model for others. Essentially I suggest they do the things in the green box above, ‘bottom-up’, and then do some of the things in the yellow and brown boxes above in concert and in community with others.

I continue to believe that trying to reform our existing political, economic, social and educational systems is a waste of time and energy. We have to follow Bucky’s advice and create something new that renders these old and dysfunctional systems obsolete. Likewise I don’t believe technologies will save us, because, as James Kunstler points out, they are designed to enable us to continue to live the unsustainable way we do now, a little longer. We have to give up on these ways of living and making a living.

We must use new ways of thinking to create something new. To do this we need to experiment, to find out what works in the midst of a society whose systems are stretched to the limit, overextended, hopelessly broken, but so pervasive that they, and the thinking that created them, are monstrously difficult to escape, to work around. It is like planting seeds in a desert, in soils exhausted and poisoned. We need to plant lots of seeds, of lots of different kinds, and nurture them and keep doing so until something catches, takes root, and grows. And then we need to replicate these ‘working models’ of resilience and innovation, so that they’re ready to take over when the old systems finally collapse.

Some of these ‘working models’ will be better, responsible, sustainable ways to live: Models of radical simplicity, love and generosity, ‘let-self-change’, self-sufficiency and intentional community.

My book on Natural Enterprise tries to provide a roadmap for experimentation with new models for making a living. It takes you through the seven step process that most traditional enterprises fail to follow, to their great detriment:

  1. Readiness: Being prepared for what entrepreneurship is about (and not being scared off too quickly)
  2. Finding the Sweet Spot: Ensuring you have the essential Gifts, capacities and Passion for what the enterprise is about
  3. Finding the Right Partners: Whose collective Gifts and Passions are mutually exclusive and collectively sufficient to realize your shared Purpose
  4. Doing World Class Research: To ensure what you offer meets a deep (and currently unmet) human need
  5. Exercising Imagination and Innovation: To ensure what you offer is (and evolves to stay) sufficiently different from what others are offering
  6. Staying Resilient: Learning and applying improvisation methods including:
    • flat, self-managed organizational structure
    • organic financing
    • viral marketing
    • measuring success on your own terms (directed to sustainability and well-being, not growth and profitability)
    • continuous research and innovation
  7. Staying Responsive and Responsible: Building on shared purpose, values and principles of service to others, and nurturing powerful relationships, networks and collaborations

The book provides a number of case studies of enterprises that do most of these things well, and they are remarkable organizations: responsible, sustainable, joyful places to work. A lot of them have achieved this accomplishment despite the fact they started out as traditional organizations and fell for most of the (wrong) conventional wisdom about how to make a living. This makes them even more remarkable — their principals were smart enough to realize that they weren’t sustainable, and they have changed them. As models go, they’re the best we have.

But we don’t yet have any full ‘working models’ of Natural Enterprise. We’ve seen what has happened to lots of enterprises that did most of these things well — they lost direction, lost energy, stopped innovating, sold out their operations or their principles. Even The Body Shop is now in the clutches of the abominable l’Oreal-Nestle conglomerate, unrepentant animal testers and high on any boycott list of socially and environmentally irresponsible, wasteful, profit-at-any-cost corporations.

Doing most of these things well is not good enough. We need better models, real ‘working models’ that are truly sustainable. Models that others can follow, to create a new, Natural Economy.

It’s up to you. The book won’t be out until the spring, but it’s never too early to start. I’ve already written extensively about the first three steps, and if you start now, just a few hours a week, you can be ready to move on to step 4 when it’s published. If you tell me I need to put more on the blog on the first three steps I will.

As long as we think Microsoft and Google are the business models to follow and emulate, we’re toast.

Doesn’t matter if you’re a new graduate moving towards a first career, or a Boomer considering your second, something no longer working for The Man. Or if you’re a Gen-X or Gen-Y fed up with being underemployed and overworked and bored out of your mind. We need you. The Earth needsyou.

Could you be a model natural entrepreneur?

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1 Response to Could You Be a Model Natural Entrepreneur?

  1. Pearl says:

    My addition to the model model: Live within the means of your conscience and energies, be a model of accepting and cherishing what can be done while not stopping the hard stuff, integrating it into a life where you reconcile yourself to mistakes being made without an accusatory game.

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