Think piece — first draft
As I was talking to a friend about businesses I was sharing with her how this is a great time to do things differently.
In fact, doing things differently is a natural way for me to think. Since last summer I have been exploring relationships, what it means for me, what society has told me to believe and so on. Most recently, I’ve asked myself, why do people get married? What does that contract actually mean? But that is another story.
So let’s get back to businesses.
First, let’s start with understanding what really is a business. The purpose of a business is to provide a solution to a gap in the system. The gap exists because what the government is able to provide does not cover provision to all who need. As such someone else has to come in and fill the gap.
Day care is a business because perhaps the government cannot provide the number of day care centres that are needed. So there is a gap in what is provided and what is needed. People can then set up a day care centre as a business to fill that gap.
When you understand fundamentally why businesses exist then it makes it an opportunity to really look at what you are trying to achieve, setting it up on firm grounds. If you aren’t able to make a basic living, then the gap needs to be filled and this could be in the form of a business. Combine these two and you have something.
Secondly, what does it actually mean? Words have dictionary definitions as a foundation. But that definition has been hijacked by trends, hashtags, buzzwords, jargon and all of that, which distorts what the actually word means.
Start with the dictionary definition.
Then, think differently. If you are using that word in your life, then look at how you have understood it. Ask yourself does this make sense to me? If it doesn’t then what would? Define it within your context. Have it reflect what it means to you. By doing so it will fit better on you, it will be more aligned with how you live or want to live. And of course, it can evolve over time, because things shift with every moment we experience and learn.
The result is more creativity and meaning.
When I speak of business I am also including how a business is run and set up. Here is where we really can get creative.
Here are some ideas.
Space. As people may be having trouble paying rent for a commercial space (office, store, café, etc..) start by asking, is having an independent space absolutely necessary for the business? If so, is the location necessary? If so, how else could you find ways of using the space other than paying rent for it?
Could you go halves with another business? Could it be shared space all the time or maybe a few days a week and the other business takes other days of the week? What about the landlord? Have you spoken to them about the situation? What is their situation? By understanding where everyone stands, sometimes this opens up ideas. Would they be interested in having a different type of contract other than a classic rental? Such as, free rent for one-year, excluding running costs (i.e. energy bills). Or a stake in the business, receiving profits or becoming a shareholder or….
There are so many ways to shape the way to have access to a space.
Most importantly you have to ask the questions. Not only to yourself but also the landlord or whom ever is involved.
The aim is a win-win for all.
The same is true for business models.
Let’s look at supply. Cooperatives or community businesses can be a business model that is suited for supply. Don’t have broadband in your village? Don’t wait for the government to step in. Do it yourself; fill in that gap.
For example, if you want to make sure you are sourcing your food well and want to have more direct trade, then develop a cooperative with neighbours or the community in an industry. Many years ago I read about a small community of rural villages that set up a cooperative to source coffee beans directly from farmers. By pooling together everybody’s similar needs, in this case coffee, they could have the buying capacity to source directly. These were not business owners but regular people who drank coffee and lived in a location that made it hard for them to have easy and quick access to something they enjoyed. It enabled them to build from their values.
When employees are the shareholders a different type of work relationship develops. The success of the business, the ability to pay everyone’s salary, is directly linked to the work of the shareholders. This increases a sense of meaning, responsibility and value, something that is missing in our current world, something that is heavily being sought for and yet not humanely addressed. More accountability increases responsibility. Ownership of this responsibility creates meaning and value. This increase of meaning is about purpose and existence of self through that of care of others.
And if you have ever questioned why do we work, the answer can be linked to the benefits of cooperatives and community businesses.
Take this opportunity to think how you could do things differently. Where can sharing occur? Where can the true meaning of trade be established?
Understand what is it you are really wanting, needing and see how can you make that possible.
I sometimes like to turn it upside down or I go backwards to understand it.