United we stand...

The classic stereotype of a successful business person is that of the idiosyncratic loner swimming against the tide, driven by their genius, ruthlessness and massive ego. It has become a stereotype because it is basically true.

But like so many commonly-held perceptions of business it only tells part of the story. It has power because it feeds the myth that business is greedy and cruel, bent on slaking its thirst for power and (our) money. But again, that is only part of it. 

In last week's Shop Floor on Share Radio I told the story of young men (it is mostly men), dubbed Digital Nomads, who flock to destinations across the developing world armed only with ambition, laptops and a desire for reliable broadband and a low cost of living.

The fellows I spoke to were in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon of old) in Vietnam, and while each was operating his own business (e-commerce, mainly, via Amazon shops), the cornerstone of their success was the ability to rely on each other for guidance and strength, sharing their most intimate business information in a spirit of trust and giving. The Ho Chi Minh City hub has around 30 or so like-minded souls, and the young guests on my show could not have been more positive about the power that resides in their community. You can listen to the piece here. (Oh, to be 30, OK 40, years younger...)

It is no coincidence, I reckon, that this is the third time in a very few weeks that the power of community has swum into focus for me.

The first was MicroBizMatters Day (next year January 13th 2017) run by the brilliant Tony Robinson OBE and Tina Boden of Enterprise Rockers. Their entire vision is to harness the power of community among micro-business owners (0-9 employees) of whom there are 5 million in the UK and countless millions more across the globe. They believe in mutual support, advice, giving, and help when disaster strikes (#HitTheRocks is a fund they are growing to help business hit by disaster). Tiny businesses may be ignored by government, all their blathering to the contrary, because they have no voice, yet these micro-businesses account for 96% of ALL businesses in the UK. When they find their voice, they will roar.

And then the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell gave a little-reported speech to the Co-operative Conference on the need for co-ops and mutuals to be given room and encouragement to grow, which under a Labour government they would. They should under this government too. Friendly societies, co-operatives and mutuals are a brilliant way - always have been - for those who have little to join together to create something that means a lot. 

Economies across the globe are entering a new phase of uncertainty. Governments and their friends in gigantic global corporations are blundering about, looking for solutions to the crisis brought about by the deals they did to suit themselves, while ignoring the little folk on the ground. And those deals look like they are pushing us ever closer to Global Financial Crisis 2: The End Game (End Days?).

So when the chips are down, who will you call? The government? Or people like yourself, in your community, in towns and villages like yours?

You can try the government. But I know who'll call you back.