by Ajax Greene
For all the wonderful rewards of owning and running a local, independent business, let’s get real: It can be hard at times. What worked two years ago is not working now. What is working now is unlikely to work down the line. What is a business owner to do?
Change is the only constant.
All new ideas are generally thought of as fads unless or until they get long-term traction and evolve to become trends that are here to stay. After 25-plus years of rapidly growing interest I can say categorically that Localism, triple bottom line business, and New Economy thinking are here to stay—in large part because of a growing global consciousness that prosperity cannot come at the expense of people and planet. Wisdom always seems to find its way into the light.
What does these all mean to you?
From the very beginning Re>Think Local has had a deep commitment to educate the locally owned independent business community in the Hudson Valley about the benefits of these ideas.
You may think that you don’t have the time or budget to attend educational programs. I understand: I too am busy and can certainly not afford to attend every program I want to.
But even in a time where there is such an emphasis on cooperation, business is in part a competitive endeavor. If your competitors are better at connecting with your customers’ values, if your competitor is more resilient against climbing energy costs, if they are better prepared for adverse weather events, whatever problems you think you have now will only get worse.
Having worked with dozens, possibly hundreds, of companies over the last several decades I can say with certainty that of the many traits that accelerate a business owner’s success, two of the most prevalent are: 1) owners that maintain an active schedule of ongoing learning and, 2) as part of that learning, build relationships with peers amongst whom they can gauge how successfully they have integrated that education.
As a long-time member of the Social Venture Network (SVN), I have invested many thousands of dollars in both membership and attending one or two conferences a year (often flying to the west coast). Yes, expensive and very time consuming. But both my personal and professional lives have been deeply affected in the best ways imaginable. This is an appeal to you to both save your own business and to participate in improving the Hudson Valley economy.
Recently I went to Brooklyn for a two-hour SVN networking event. I didn’t close any specific business deals, but I maintained and expanded the high-quality network that is the lifeblood of my personal business. It is these networks that make urban centers such vibrant economies. A week after the event, I met with a leading expert in economic development in the Hudson Valley who felt very certain that IBM’s footprint will be completely gone from the region in the next few years. We both agreed that a network of diverse, high-functioning locally owned, independent businesses is the solution to the Hudson Valley’s economic future.
It is time to be that educated, connected business owner enjoying the fruits of your efforts. Re>Think is involved in a number of educational events in the coming months to help get you on your way.
We are sponsoring the Green Materials and Services Expo on October 14, from 12-8pm at SUNY New Paltz. We’ll be working alongside the US Green Building Council’s Upstate New York Chapter, Re>Think member Rick Alfandre of Alfandre Architecture, and other great sponsors to bring together exhibitors specializing in green building to help educate businesses and consumers. We’ll be hosting a one-hour workshop on repurposing building materials, along with a brief keynote speech during the exhibit led by Re>Think board member Vivian Mandala of Vivian Mandala Home Design.
My fellow Re>Think co-founder and board chair Scott Tillitt and I are producing—in partnership with Re>Think and Etsy—a series of workshops called “IMPACT: Crafting a Thriving Venture for the New Economy.” Scholarships are available from Etsy for this unique series covering the basics and then some: visioning and branding, marketing, people and culture, legal and financial strategies, and leadership. They’ll be held Mondays, October 6 through November 10 at Etsy’s offices in Hudson, New York.
We’re also sponsoring the Hudson Valley Regional Congress of the NYS Sustainable Business Council. Help us shape the first-ever policy agenda for a sustainable economy in New York State, November 6 at BEAHIVE in Beacon.
And last but not least, stay tuned for the second Social Venture Institute/Hudson Valley in May 2015.
Details of all of these can be found at rethinklocal.org/events.