I sense that many small town entrepreneurs I’ve spoken to recently are walking around with a sense of pain, isolation, and dissatisfaction with their accomplishments and not really knowing why or where it’s coming from.
But I have a theory . . .
Besides the standard business owner problems of running a business and not fully understanding how to market it, I believe that much of it comes from the feeling that they don’t have a clear place to belong. Sure there’s the local Chamber of Commerce which does great things for the entrepreneurial community, but not all people who own businesses belong in the same tribe.
A tribe which provides fuel for your entrepreneurial spirit is filled with people who are like-minded, share a set of values and beliefs, similar aspirations, similar hunger to make change, and a similar ethos about what matters in the world.
Without this nourishing time with your tribe, your rebellious change-making spirit will slowly start to wither away.
Why is this particularly true for small town entrepreneurs?
Urban cities are filled with niche entrepreneurial groups and meetups – with a quick Google search, you’ll find something that fills this need and if there isn’t a group for you yet, there are mechanisms in place to create one yourself easily.
In rural Canada and US, the need for niche tribes of entrepreneurs is difficult to notice because a small “close-knit” community gives the illusion of a tribe. However, close-knit community and nourishing tribe are not the same thing.
This can be really disruptive. That’s when self medication comes in like materialism, jealousy, gossip, and over volunteering because people feel so removed.
How can over volunteering be bad? I’m speaking to those entrepreneurs who notice this sense of loneliness and fill up their contribution bucket in a way that fulfills this fundamental human need to belong. It temporarily fills the void because they’re doing something that helps a lot of people, and I believe it makes them feel more of a connection in that way. It’s noble, but not a win-win.
Over volunteering is a thankless job. And while selfless contribution is a cornerstone to cultivating an amazing tribe, doing it in a way that makes your own business and life suffer is only going to hurt you, your family, your business, and therefore your community in the long run.
Belonging is a Fundamental Human Need
In Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, belongingness is part of one of his major needs that motivate human behavior. The hierarchy is usually portrayed as a pyramid, with more basic needs at the base and more complex needs near the peak.
Maslow’s theory suggests one must satisfy lower level deficit needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs. When a deficit need has been satisfied it will go away.
The need for belonging is at the center of the pyramid, and above that we see “. . . feeling of accomplishment.” Could it be that we walk around having “accomplished” so much with our businesses but still feeling like we have not because we haven’t fulfilled our prerequisite of belongingness?
It’s something that isn’t spoken about a whole lot these days and part of what I’m here to do is help close that gap. I believe I was put on this earth to help give people like me something to belong to because we all need awesome friends goddammit.
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Solving for belonging,