Rural Small Business Paradigm Shifts and Methodologies by Delaney Keating
We think of paradigm shifts as forward-thinking, perhaps futuristic, or as part of an evolution into a new state of being. Though not always the case, especially in business, emergent paradigm shifts, in many ways, pay homage to roots in the past.
In 2015, I first took note of this when I hosted a speaker on the tenets of Conscious Capitalism at a remote, rural innovation center for small businesses. The audience response to Conscious Capitalist ideals of “people over profit” was “this is how we’ve always done business.” Rural participants didn’t see Conscious Capitalism as something new but rather a reflection of how they had always done business.
As a long-time rural resident, it was a proud moment to see this new corporate, or perhaps urban, set of ideals validate the ethos of something that was inherently rural. It made sense. Over the years, working with rural small business owners and innovators, I am in constant admiration of the commitment and motivation to positively impact their economies and environment. Rural entrepreneurs show many values of the earlier Conscious Capitalism principles baked into their DNA. They value their communities as stakeholders, sought to elevate people through higher-paying jobs, and, more often than not, if they weren’t solving for the environment, they factored their environmental impact heavily within their business plans. The biggest differentiator was the sense of community.
Community is a core aspect of small business paradigms, whether it’s a desire to impact your community positively, foster a healthy work culture within your company’s community, or serve as inspiration for a community of industry. This return to a greater sense of community fosters a more collaborative spirit internally and externally. Not only does this community awareness and participation better serve entrepreneurs, but it also showcases a return to previous eras where humans operated with a greater sense of dependency within their given communities. A commitment to the community requires both trust and relationship within that group and, therefore, also fosters the emergence of agreed social contracts and behavioral norms.
A community becomes a support network and is built to help uplift the success of initiatives within that and can also be made strong enough to help weather uncertainty.
The benefits of community are many, and we see new founders seeking community connections and network support, ongoingly, as a regular aspect of “doing business.”
A core component for the success of any community, it the facet of trust. Trust creates a baseline or foundation for a community to self-manage based on shared values and expectations. Though not discussed often, trust is more than a facet of a healthy community; but is also central to economic prosperity. Next to the return to the community, the importance of trust is a catalyst for many other aspects of our shifting paradigms in business.
Beyond entrepreneurs and their relationships within their various modes of community, a company culture also depends upon trust. Company culture reflects the health and satisfaction of its employees and the relationship it has with its consumers. Trust is increasingly built upon human-centered leadership that upholds values for people, whether in employee engagement and well-being or customer service tactics. Trust is vast and nuanced but straightforward at its core. Furthermore, both transparency and vulnerability are stated parts of the rhetoric of trust when we are even casually discussing a company or leader.
With community and trust at the forefront of paradigm shifts within a business, whether located in a rural or urban environment, there is a catalytic ripple of other paradigms that continue to emerge. Many paradigms emerge as divergent forks in a road, but for many, they represent a spectrum of seeming opposites, and how we “teeter” or surf between them individually or within a company or society reflects how ingrained a paradigm becomes a long-term aspect or value of culture.
Join Monday, November 16th, to explore leadership and business paradigms with Delaney Keating at the next WE Conference for women entrepreneurs.
by Delaney Keating, Managing Director for Startup Colorado and a seasoned creative, entrepreneur, and change agent. She successfully owned, operated, and exited her first company and has since been dedicated to fostering ingrained cultural values for art and innovation.
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