What Matters Now – Soul Business
Riffing off Seth Godin (and his collaborators’) contributions to the fantastic and recently published What Matters Now ebook, I thought I would add my one-pager (should Seth have asked me to contribute – maybe next time huh?)
What Matters Now?
Making meaning through business. Solving global problems. Engaging people in work that fulfills them. Making cool stuff. Existing for more than making a profit. Businesses that make meaning. Business can have soul.
Big business (used) to make the rules. They made stuff that generates the biggest profits. Enroll staff to work and make the stuff. Pump millions of £s into advertising to make people want to buy the stuff that the big companies are making. It has no enduring meaning. Everyone knew it, there just wasn’t the ready means to challenge or change it (you needed money, and lots of it). Business lost soul.
The internet has changed everything. It allows mom and pop businesses to flourish from the kitchen table. It allows people who might otherwise never meet to collaborate to make cool stuff. To put passion into business. To build businesses that make a difference to society. To the world. To challenge (slow, lumbering) big businesses through the delivery of new services or products, unparalled customer service and an overarching authenticity and meaning that resonates with customers. Business can use soul for competitive advantage.
The internet has also added one other killer advantage for small business: low cost. There is now nothing stopping small ‘kitchen table’ businesses from competing side by side with major established big businesses. Cool stuff can be made and then marketed online before being shipped to a global customer base whilst consulting services can be delivered globally via the cloud. The costs and overheads of establishing and running small businesses today are low (and are getting lower). Meanwhile big businesses have large, costly, unwieldly infrastructures built over many years to meet the demands of the old 20th century economy. Business soul is indiscriminate – it favours business of all shapes and sizes.
We are standing at the threshold of a huge opportunity. We can now focus on building and supporting throngs of small businesses that matter. Businesses that solve global problems and needs. Businesses that can stay small because being big is no longer a necessary constituent of being globally successful. Businesses that engage and enthuse their people. Businesses that make meaning ahead of profit. In a nutshell, business with soul.