This is the third in a series of articles about my new book Finding the Sweet Spot. The book is available from most booksellers or online from the sites listed in the right sidebar. A synopsis of the book is here. A complete set of reviews of the book (thank you, reviewers!) can be found on Beth Patterson’s site here.
We are all longing to go home to some place we have never beenóa place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free. — Starhawk
A number of the radio stations that have interviewed me about my book have asked about community-based businesses. Specifically, they have asked whether small locally-owned businesses stand a chance against the Wal-Marts of the world with their massive buying power, advertising reach and (when they need rezoning and favourable tax incentives to locate in your community) political clout. They’ve also asked whether you really can be a “good corporate citizen” — whether you can succeed without inevitably compromising your principles and quality just to compete with the big ugly multinational corporations.
These are good questions. The answer to both is Yes — provided you go about it the right way.
Most small businesses, unfortunately, start with a product or service that they would like to provide and/or think they can provide well (usually one not very different from what already exists in the community), and then try to find a market and financing for it. This gets entrepreneurship exactly backwards.
The Natural Entreprise approach starts by going into the community and talking and meeting with its people, and discovering their unmet needs. Then, you work with your partners, your networks, prospective customers and suppliers, and members of the community to innovate a solution to that need that is significantly different from anything out in the market now. Something that prospective customers, as “co-inventors” of your product or service, are already sold on. Something the people you have met in the process of doing your research and innovation are likely so enthused about that they may well seek to invest in your enterprise, as partners with you. Something that the people in your community, having been involved in the design and development process, will want to encourage and support as something that benefits the whole community, not just the company’s absentee owners.
Traditional corporations rely on a few “competitive advantages” (aside from using their power to lobby governments for subsidies, tax breaks, trade agreements, and other favours, and forming oligopolies to reduce choice and fix prices), to attract customers and try to dominate their markets — including those in your local community.
These “competitive advantages” are: (1) name recognition, (2) popular brand, (3) low price, and (4) operating “efficiency”. These advantages come at a steep cost to those in our communities:
Many people are beginning to rebel against the offerings of these large, faceless, global oligopoly corporations, and rediscover the advantage of buying locally-made, healthy, carefully crafted products and services from producers who actually care about what they do and the people they do it for.
This is what Natural Enterprise is all about. The advantages of dealing with a Natural Enterprise as customers and community members are:
In a real sense a Natural Enterprise is a community within a community, and the principles and processes and values of the Natural Enterprise “community” and the neighborhood community in which it operates reflect and reinforce each other.
In his book The Company We Keep, John Abrams explains how the dynamics of his company and the dynamics of the greater community in which it is located interact powerfully, and how his company and his community partner and help build and strengthen each other. It is essential that Natural Enterprises be involved and active and engaged in building and helping the neighborhood that is their home, and draw in return strength from that larger community.
I think one of the things that is so appealing about Natural Enterprise, beside the fact that it is instinctive and joyful, is that in our modern world we long for a renewed sense of community, to belong to a place as part of a group of people with common Purpose, and, as Dave Smith argues so eloquently, to be of use, of service, to that community. Natural Enterprise, as a community within a larger community, gives us that sense of belonging, purpose, and usefulness twice over.
Give people a real choice between a responsible, local, community-based Natural Enterprise and a sprawling, anonymous and indifferent industrial corporation, and it’s pretty obvious whom most will choose to do business with. They’re just waiting for you, and your NaturalEnterprise, to give them that choice.
Category: Natural Enterprise
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My Bio, Contact Info, Signature PostsAbout the Author (2016)
--- My Best 100 Posts --
Preparing for Civilization's End:
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
The Mushroom at the End of the World
What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
The New Political Map (Poster)
Complexity and Collapse
Save the World Reading List
What a Desolated Earth Looks Like
Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
The End of Philosophy
The Boiling Frog
What to Believe Now?
Conversation & Silence
The Language of Our Eyes
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
Does Language Restrict What We Can Think?
The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
Figments of Reality
Too Far Ahead
The Rogue Animal
How the World Really Works:
If You Wanted to Sabotage the Elections
Collective Intelligence & Complexity
Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
The Problem With Systems
Against Hope (Video)
The Admission of Necessary Ignorance
Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
The Gift Economy
The Job of the Media
The Wal-Mart Dilemma
The Illusion of the Separate Self:
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
Letting Go of the Story of Me
All There Is, Is This
A Theory of No Mind
The Ever-Stranger (Poem)
The Fortune Teller (Short Story)
Non-Duality Dude (Play)
Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
All the Things I Thought I Knew (Short Story)
On the Shoulders of Giants (Short Story)
Calling the Cage Freedom (Short Story)
Only This (Poem)
The Other Extinction (Short Story)
Disruption (Short Story)
A Thought-Less Experiment (Poem)
Speaking Grosbeak (Short Story)
The Only Way There (Short Story)
The Wild Man (Short Story)
Flywheel (Short Story)
The Opposite of Presence (Satire)
How to Make Love Last (Poem)
The Horses' Bodies (Poem)
Distracted (Short Story)
Worse, Still (Poem)
A Conversation (Short Story)
Farewell to Albion (Poem)
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