“Community-based businesses tell stories. They create remarkable products. They sync up their tribe. They happily surrender market share to the commodity seller–if it’s a lower price you want, good luck to you! The community business says, ‘people like us shop at a place like this.’ This is where brands live, and where work that matters gets done.” Seth Godin
We professionals, authors and creatives tend to view creating a community-based business as the holy grail.
Maybe we crave the cachet and blank check, bet-the-business projects of say a McKinsey. Or the creative pop of IDEO. Or even the deep loyalty of former Arthur Andersenites who celebrated the firm’s 100th anniversary—10 years after it imploded.
The advantages are many. You compete on great work, not price. You spend your days with clients who want to be part of the club and become apostles for your brand. Marketing and sales are about building and cementing ties, not advertising.
But it takes guts—and consistency—to develop a community. You have to stand for something. You have to live it and show it and tell it. Every. Single. Day.
It means saying no to the misfits and one-offs, even when the revenue is tempting. It means investing in giving, with no expectation that it will be reciprocated directly (try explaining THAT to your accountant).
It means deciding who is in your community: for whom do you happily (maybe even playfully) work best?
My “people”—the ones I bond to like flypaper—have big ideas. They think. They create. They are willing to take leaps, even when it scares them. They make mistakes, dissect them and try again differently.
They care—deeply—about what they do. Even when they have a big presence, there is a natural grace and humility about them. They know that while money matters, people—and serving—matter more.
I am very clear whose communities I want to play in.
How do you recognize yours?
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