Thursday, August 18, 2005
Keep it weird.
That means you.
Many people in the good city of Austin, TX promote a great phrase... "Keep Austin weird". Many other areas are also adopting the phrase.
The words are meant to promote trade with locally based enterprises as much as possible. The radical precept behind this is that it's nice to support your neighbor's enterprises whenever possible. Big boxes have their place but for goodness sake, we need to keep it a little weird, or we'll all be welcoming guests to Wal-Mart.
If you want to get involved in starting up an enterprise, exhale and look slowly and carefully at the ground you're entering.
If you are proposing a new economic entity to the world, you'll have to learn to deal with a reality of your new commercial life nobody talks about much.
You're position is that you have a solution to a problem no one has figured out before. You need people to pay you to execute that solution. With new stuff, both sides typically have very little to go on.
I'm sure you're a nice person but you're going to look, well, a little bit weird.
Good. Recognize you're running on a bit of a different track and be thankful we have society that enables you to be weird.
However, if you get the right to participate in free enterprise, I believe you also have the responsibility to support the weird environment in which you hope to live and thrive. You need to shop weird. You need to talk to new people who are talking about new stuff. Spend a little money with the better ones. Do your bit to keep the system afloat or there won't be much water for you to paddle in.
This is certainly important for consumer spending, but it's vital for business spending. If businesses do not get a good, continuous supply of new tools, we've got no future in business. Businesses need to support emerging enterprises as much as individuals do, maybe more so.
If you want to be a success as an independent enterprise you need to support the system of independent, start up, unusual restaurant, better mousetrap, healthier widget economies that are struggling to take hold all around you, largely unnoticed in the glare of big box logos.
Even if you're just thinking about your own enterprise, but not ready, go out there and participate. Drive past the big boxes. Think about what the people out there in those edgy or oddball or just plain lovely enterprises you've heard about and wanted to interact with. Do it. Go say hi. Support the ones where you can find some value. Ask them how they like being an entrepreneur. You'll learn a lot from the answers.
That wonderful radio icon Paul Harvey once said, 'You don't believe it unless you do it.'
Learn to look for what's weird. Learn to find the enterprises that are finding better solutions to problems. That's what you'll be peddling so get out there and help them out. Vote with your feet and get off the beaten path.
I think this enterprise stuff is getting to you.
You're looking a little weird.