Some days it seems like global civilization is collapsing around us. And business continues to fiddle while Rome burns.
Competition still rules. It’s a game of winner-takes-all. Only the apex predators ultimately survive because they already have the money, sales, staff, connections, and visibility to beat out the competition.
Bigger is better, and more is never enough. Income inequality grows daily.
Even for small businesses, the object of the game is to build YOUR brand and business, grow YOUR visibility and customer base, distinguish yourself from the competition. Your silo is the only one that matters. This outlook prevails even in the world of fair trade, social entrepreneurship, and social impact business.
But what if the focus shifted from building your brand to creating an entirely new business eco-system in which EVERYONE can thrive? What if you started from the assumption that growing the size of the pie for everyone was more important than protecting and increasing the size of your sliver?
Watching the pandemic play out around the world has shifted the way I think about business. I’m now looking for ways to build a more holistic, collaborative business eco-system, rather than just focusing on building the HoonArts brand.
It’s a puzzle. It’s subversive. I’m not sure how it will evolve or how it will ultimately look. But the game has become a lot more fun, and it has a lot more potential for impact beyond HoonArts and our artisans.
Fair Trade Conscious Collaboration: Shared Audience.
I’ve joined forces with a small group of other Fair Trade Federation members, and we are actively exploring ways to share our audiences. Without any “affiliate fee” or commission. And with everyone sharing the work and the expenses.
You’ve seen our first two Fair Trade Gift Guides (the Red Guide and the Purple Guide), in which we highlight products from each of our companies and the artisans who make them. The Blue Guide and the Green Guide will be coming out shortly.
We also just completed our first joint social media Fair Trade Fashion Giveaway. We each donated a product to the Giveaway, and all promoted it on our own media channels.
The results are small so far, but we’re learning what works and what doesn’t. And we all believe that there is enormous potential in the conscious collaborative effort. We just have to keep testing and evaluating.
Shared Shipping Expenses from Central Asia.
One of the biggest challenges and expenses of working with artisans in Central Asia is shipping costs from the region. All shipments must come by air freight, which has become even more expensive as a result of the pandemic.
In working with one of our artisan groups today, we worked out a way to share the international shipping expenses between HoonArts and another US customer. The artisans will ship both orders to me using a FedEx flat rate box. I will send the second order to the other buyer at US shipping rates. The total shipping expenses will be dramatically reduced, and everyone will benefit.
I'm not the only one thinking this way about a holistic approach to life and business. Here are a couple of resources that you might enjoy:
Podcast: The Good Life Project – Mata Zaraska | Growing Young
Doughnut Economics, by Kate Raworth. Consider borrowing it from your local library, or if you need your own copy, check with your local bookstores before you head to the apex predators online.
With this new mindset, I’m always on the lookout for ways to collaborate for the benefit of all. And it means I get to play with more people, which is a big bonus for me. The life of a “solopreneur” can be lonely.
If any of you have other ideas for conscious collaboration, I’d love to hear them.
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