If you were to run your business like everyone does, you’d end up exactly where most people end up: unsatisfied, stressed out, and falling through the cracks.
What’s needed then? How can you stand out? How can you seek to start a business, continue to run it, get profitable, and still have fun along the way?
You do what the founders of Skype, Paypal, and Tesla did: Build a following. Grow a community.
Seek advocates; not just customers.
Each of these companies have products that have become popular thanks to passionate people moving together, recommending these products to each other, rallying for a cause, and for spreading a global movement while they are at it.
They are called Tribes as what Seth Godin calls them.
In Seth Godin’s book Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us he writes:
“Most organizations have discovered that the factory-centric model of producing goods and services is not nearly as profitable as it used to be “
He also writes:
“Customers have decided to spend time and money on things that matter, and on things that they believe in“
Traditional Marketing, as we know it, is dead. It’s not “I produce, they buy” anymore.
Customers want to rally your cause. They want to fight for you, defend you, and be passionate about your brand, products, and services.
They don’t want to end up becoming an entry into your CRM, you see?
Apart from upcoming technology trends that’ll change the way you do marketing, brand new opportunities threatening to replace the old ones, and our ever-increasing dependence on changing technological tides, there’s also the new path that’s taking shape in front of you as a new age entrepreneur.
Just showing up isn’t going to cut it (and it never did). Mindless hustle, chasing customers with your offers, breaking out sales pitches in elevators, or shouting off the top of the mountain isn’t going to help.
Running full-page adverts on glossy magazines and interrupting television shows with ads is history.
Here’s how you can build your own tribe, start your own passionate movements, and lead with purpose:
Show up & make an impact
If you had to build your tribe before the days of the Internet and all this technology that we are blessed with today, you’d have found that coordinating and leading a tribe would have been impossible.
It’d have been hard to put a word out, to coordinate action, and difficult for your tribe to grow or for you to lead.
Today, Barack Obama could raise $50 million in 28 days flat. A “Rebel Girls” — a children’s book — became Kickstarter’s fastest funded publishing project. Kickstarter — a popular crowdfunding platform itself raised more than $3 billion in pledges.
Back in the day, these movements would have been impossible to conceive, let alone achieve.
The Internet is a valuable tool to help you build your tribe, to grow your business, to grow a community, and to spring up a movement changing countless lives as you build your business.
One of the ways you can build your own tribe is to have your own platform (think your website, blog, social accounts, youtube channel, Instagram account, or any combination thereof).
Forget that it’s called content marketing.
Don’t think of it as link building, search optimization, or blogging. That’s not how you think about it.
Instead, think of the ability to communicate at scale — the way you do it with frequent publishing and distributing your content — as a megaphone that you are gifted with so that you can put your thoughts out.
Aim to influence. Seek to make a difference to the community — partly with your leadership and selfless contribution and partly thanks to the awesomeness of “user powered content”.
Businesses driven by a community approach are backed by a flawless business model, an undying support of your community, and the strength of the human fabric.
Make it easy to connect with you
Humans connect with humans — not with ASCII code, pieces of text, code, or a snippet of content.
As humans, we certainly don’t relate to endless powerpoint slides and fancy brochures. All of your entrepreneurial hustle is abortive if no one knows you by your name.
Make it easy for people to connect with you. Give out your contact details on your website, on your social accounts, and everywhere else.
Too many businesses hide behind glass facades, maze-like Interactive voice recordings, or faceless websites.
Given the age of content marketing and inbound marketing strategy, social media, and videos, it’s surprising that companies still hide behind obscure walls of text.
First put your face out there for others to see. Let there be a face next to every piece of content you put out — be it a blog post, a video on Youtube, a Tweet on Twitter, or an update on Instagram.
Even as you read this, there are “customer support” horror stories. There are brand new startups along with established companies that take customers for granted. There’s still no connect, as we speak.
If everything else where to be equal in the industry you are in, and amongst your competition, just how you strive to connect, support, and help your existing and potential customers is going to make a huge difference to your bottomline.
Build a community
Seth Godin, in his book Tribes, writes:
“People don’t believe what you tell them.
They rarely believe what you show them
They often believe what their friends tell them.
They always believe what they tell themselves.
What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves. Stories about the future and about change”
In the world of digital media then, building a community way you can make this happen as an entrepreneur trying to influence the world and your potential customers along with everyone who’ll ever be associated with your business.
Airbnb isn’t just a portal for you to find your next vacation home; there’s a community of Airbnb hosts that drive the business.
Uber isn’t just a taxi aggregator and facilitator; there’s a community of drivers and customers who are a community powering the business.
By growing a community around your business, you allow people to tell stories (to themselves) that they want to believe in.
So much that they’ll also become advocates for your business, even if it’s because they believe in the community you’ll create.
Money is not the measure of your movement
Today, it’s a fact that there are several tribes (casual to business, cult-like to even silly causes). But there are very few people who can lead a tribe.
Even fewer can actually create a tribe from scratch and let the tribe grow.
On paper, it looks easy enough to start and grow your tribe thanks to the power of content (text, videos, and voice).
However, it’s hard to continue growing the tribe while you stick to your values, doing things the way you do, and believing in what you believe in.
It’s undeniable that for most entrepreneurs, money ties in to ambition. Or maybe it facilitates growth and a better quality of life.
With the tribe-approach to business, however, it’s important to realize that money is not the point of the movement you are about to start while trying to create a tribe. As Seth puts it,
“Money exists merely to enable the movement you’ll start. The moment you try to cash out is the moment you stunt the growth of the movement”.
As we write this, there are new age business owners and entrepreneurs who’ve decided to continue building a tribe and not settle for money.
Chris Savage and Brendan Schwartz — co-founders of Wistia — decided to take a different path from the “grow-at-all-costs” and sell the business for “a sum of money that’ll not need them to work ever again”. They turned down an offer to sell their company and settled with $17 million in debt instead.
Savage and Brendan don’t just run a video hosting business at Wistia. They grow a tribe of their own.
Their passion for using videos for business (to sell, to pitch, to connect, and to make an impact) is contagious.
Millions of new age entrepreneurs, executives, marketers, and many others continue to learn and get inspired, thanks to Wistia’s continued efforts to build the tribe.
This is one of the reasons why I started my digital agency and I continue to run my business without the primary goal of making money.
Money will follow. My energy and focus is better spent in delivering value, to build my own tribe, and to create a community.
I focus on sticking to my values, to deliver the best value that I can provide for our clients, and to make a difference to each client as their names are whispered and their projects are worked on in the aisles of our offices here.
What’s your movement going to be like? What kind of a tribe will you create?