Jerry Ash: The Disruptive Professor

NME: Not Just for Amateurs

Just as the development of my online course revealed the need for a different business model for startup entrepreneurs, it quickly followed that existing solopreneurs, independent contractors and small businesses could use it too.The purpose of the socially responsible, self-managed, profit-sharing business model was originally an ideal, a means of changing the way capitalism and economics works for the sake of ordinary people . . .

. . . people at the grassroots — workers and their families, their friends and neighbors, their communities and their country.

I needed some sort of organization. So I imagined The Company of One Plus (TCO+). It would be the pilot of all pilots built around the disruptive business model.

To build a team, my recruiting focused on professionals, employees running in place or falling behind, at mid-career and earning less than they were worth.

People who were ready for a change, who had strong entrepreneurial spirits, exceptional skills and leadership qualities.

My very first applicant quickly became the TCO+ “Head of Marketing and Business Development.” Mark Snyder is Principal and Founder at Concepts in Excellence, Tampa, Florida, a successful consultancy.

An existing entrepreneur! How exciting. But not surprising.

Ask Google and some will tell you that independent workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses are struggling in a market dominated by the Big Box. Consumers are either drawn to the corporate giants like moths to a flame or driven to it out of desperate need because they are in the survival mode and dependent on price, the only consideration.

Others will tell you small business has finally made its way back from the 2007 stock market debacle without the bailouts the Bigs received even though they were the ones who caused the crash and the misery that followed for all of us.

Both are true, of course.

And both views prove once again that small business is resilient. Its entrepreneurs are willful and well prepared for survival.

That’s one of the major reasons I chose to use the entrepreneurial spirit of small business to encourage workers to become indie entrepreneurs instead of employees in order to overcome their economic conditions.

But the appearance of Mark Snyder on my radar screen alerted me to a major mistake. I was overlooking the existing small business community in my zeal to help startups but not the survivors.

Actually, I have always viewed workers and small business people as much the same.

By and large, workers just want to make a living and achieve a comfortable lifestyle. Wealth may be in their dreams but not in their career plans. Likewise, small business people are not capitalists in the sense that their goals are to amass capital for its own sake.

Like workers, small business people just want to make a good living but they want to do it their way.

As my course has developed I was motivated to change the business model so that workers who have an entrepreneurial spirit can find a place where they can do their work as indie entrepreneurs. That’s when the socially responsible, self-managed, profit-sharing business model was born. Some will own their own companies. Most will work within them, own their own work and profit from it.

While working through the details of the model it became clear that the model is just as good for an existing entrepreneur as it will be for the newbie.

Actually better, because the existing business is ahead in the game. Instead of starting from scratch, the owner simply needs to change the game.

Here’s how.

  1. An indie entrepreneur comes to you with a proposition. “I want to work with you to make your business grow. I’m an indie entrepreneur. It won’t cost you a penny until your business does grow. I’m not looking for a paycheck. I’m looking for a fair share of the profits I help build.”
  2. The lack of manpower is the very thing that’s been holding you back. But the problem is “you have to spend money to make money.” In this case, the manpower is willing to invest human capital to earn a fair share of increased profits. Just like you do. Manna from heaven!
  3. Of course it works. You knew it would all along but you didn’t have the financial capital to support it on the front end. Now you have a not-employee who is instead an investor of human capital who is using your base to do business and earn profits.
  4. Even better, the not-employee is investing in your business for his or her benefit. Turnover is no longer a problem. The not-employee is loyal and stable because your business is his or her business.
  5. Word gets around. More not-employees are knocking at your door. Scaling up was never a possibility, but now . . . .
  6. You change your business model. You become a socially responsible (you always were), self-managed, profit-sharing business. You make it official.
  7. It’s big news. You explain to the reporter that the money spent in your establishment doesn’t fly away to a distant corporate headquarters. The profit stays right here in town, in the neighborhood, rolling over and over again to boost the local economy.
  8. This is Main Street economics. You are no longer a survivor under the gun of the Big Box. You are their competitor. Your customers remember what they always knew: “What goes around comes around.” Can’t be said of the Big Box.

Together, the small fishes in the sea can eat the big fish.

You have been reading this blog post on the website of NotMyEconomics. The site is entirely free (no lie) and open to the public and I invite you to take a look around. Begin with the NotMyEconomics orientation page and enroll if you want to engage in the interactive features of the course. Thank you.

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Not My EconomicsNME: Not Just for Amateurs