For minimalist entrepreneurs, communities are the starting point of any successful enterprise. That doesn’t mean you should run out and find a community to join just for the purpose of starting a business. It means that most businesses fail because they aren’t built with a particular group of people in mind. Often, the ones that succeed do so because they’re focused on a community that a founder knows well.
You probably have something you enjoy, something that on its face has nothing to do with your “real” job. Whatever it is, building a minimalist business around the people you love to spend time with and the ways you love to spend your time depends on being part of a community. You may already be thinking about how to solve the problems of a current community you participate in, or you may simply be planning to join a community based on something you love. Either way, finding your people is really important at the beginning. Not just for the sake of your business but also for the sake of your own well-being.
The real magic starts to happen when you contribute to your communities. Authors and bloggers Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba call this the “1% Rule”: On the internet, they say, 1 percent create, 9 percent contribute, and 90 percent consume. Contributing means commenting, editing, and generally being part of the broader conversation. What’s more, if you go further and create by showing what you’re working on, teaching what you’re learning, and bringing new material to your community, that influence will grow ninetyfold. If you struggle with this, as many do, remind yourself that if you have something to add, it’s selfish to keep it to yourself!
Chances are, if you’ve learned something, there’s probably a good portion of your community that would find value in learning that same thing from you, even if you aren’t the world’s leading authority on the subject. And if you’re learning every day, which you probably are, you’ll have something to share every day. Meanwhile, you’ll build your skills and experience, learn to speak the language, and grow your community, all essential ingredients when you eventually have a product you are ready to sell.
Then, when you are proficient enough to monetize what you know, now or in the future, if you’ve put in the time, you will be part of a sizable community that will eventually be your first group of prospective customers (more on that in chapters 4 and 5). This is an important factor in keeping you honest about the quality of work you are able to produce. Your community should serve as proof that you’re improving, producing, and helping others; these people could spend their attention on a gazillion things, and they’ve chosen you. For the minimalist entrepreneur trying to make an impact, community is a way to stay focused: Instead of changing the world, you can change your community’s world.