Two years ago I was a socialist.
I was fed up with Goldman Sachs, I was tired of the ‘rich’ taking all the money from the poor (don’t even get me started on Monsanto!) and I really felt that someone needed to step in and help all the people who’d ended up down on their luck.
Who else should step in, if not the government?
I was friends with anarchists, hung out in drum circles at Evergreen, and generally went around trying to bring about change using the same strategies an old man would use to get kids off his lawn. That is to say, with fist shaking and impotent ranting.
“Free time” activism, and the journey to nowhere
Some of my anarchist friends did a lot to try and help their community, but they were limited by the scale of their thinking, and by their talent and abilities.
Amateur fliers and good intentions don’t cut it. What’s worse, most of my old friends approached their free time as their ‘real time’, and they approached ‘work’ as a necessary evil.
I know in my own life, during my one and only ‘real’ job I spent my time figuring out how to do the bare minimum while still looking busy. My ‘work’ provided no value to anyone, it didn’t improve my skillset, and it only left me with my ‘free time’ to contribute towards doing something I actually cared about.
This didn’t seem right. And it got me thinking…
The life of the new entrepreneur
What would you get if you combined a little mother Teresa with a little Richard Branson?
What if you built a business based on providing as much value as humanly possible?
Tom’s Shoes is my favorite entrepreneurial philanthropy example. It was started to raise money for sending 250 shoes over to third world countries. Fast forward to 2011, now they’ve managed to put shoes on over one million kids. The best part? It didn’t require any donations. Everyone involved benefited, both the people in America buying cool new shoes, and the kids over in other parts of the world who get theirs pro-bono because of it.
Every blogger by the way, is a new entrepreneur. Even your free content needs to be life changing, and the only way to manage that is to care enough to make it that way.
So what is the new entrepreneur?
The new entrepreneur knows that thinking of others is the fastest way to open doors. How many people are you helping, and how deeply are you helping them? The growth of your business is a direct result of how many lives you touch, and with what depth.
The new entrepreneur knows there is no such thing as competition. They network enthusiastically, and know more can be accomplished together than alone.
The new entrepreneur doesn’t waste time thinking in terms of hourly work. The only pay you really earn is pay based on results. If you can come in and provide massive value and it only takes five minutes, how is that worth less than paying the wrong person to spend 100 hours spinning their wheels? It’s terrifying if you’re still thinking like an employee, but once you make the shift life’s never the same. Your time has no value to anyone. Only your results matter.
The new entrepreneur is on the rise. In an age of Yelp and online reviews (for big and small businesses alike), small thinkers with a mission aren’t the only ones that need to change. Even purely profit-driven ventures need to start listening and thinking about how they can provide more value. Traditional industries that work for high leverage money without paying much attention to who it’s helping, they’re struggling now.
People who care about change need to look into business if they’re going to make real impact, but profit-minded businesses now need to change too.
When passion meets power
This is my dream. Are you an artist? A writer? A builder? Whatever your passions and gifts are, there are people out there that need them. When you’ve got both heart and skill, you can work miracles that money alone couldn’t even hope to achieve.
I used to believe socialism was the answer to society’s problems. Those problems still need to be solved, but now I’m taking responsibility for choosing one and doing something about it.
An entrepreneur in India managed to get the cost for cataract surgery down to $40, all because he figured out how to apply McDonald’s-like systems to an operation that costs thousands in other parts of the world. Is it better to give money to fund a poor solution, or should you use your talents to find a better one?
My challenge to you is to step it up
Don’t settle for hourly wages doing something that hardly benefits anyone. You have a unique gift that people out there need!
However, it’s no longer enough to be an activist or a normal MBA style entrepreneur. What are you meant to do in life? Who can those talents help? Why in God’s name haven’t you started getting out there to help those people? You Are Needed. Now get to it, and never stop improving.
James Watt has mentored with some of the most baddass internet marketers you’ve never heard of, and he has chosen (so far) to use his newly found powers for good. Small business owners, authors, coaches, info marketers, and and anyone else with a message worth spreading can find him and his (usually) carefully crafted nuggets of wisdom at Adventures in the Raw.