Maximize Your Reef

Mutualism on display in a complex coral reef

Had a lot of fun last week re-kindling my love for writing. So I think I’ll do some more. And thanks for all the warm feedback, it was unexpected and incredibly welcomed.

The aim of this public journaling is two-fold.

  1. Document for posterity to be able to laugh and remember what the hell happened during these crazy years
  2. To provide some different, oftentimes wacky, takes on entrepreneurship/economics that may help others who are as confused as I am about the way the world and economy works

This week I wanted to dive into this concept I’ve been thinking a lot about. Mutualism. Short-term vs. long-term. Self-maximizing vs. community-maximizing.

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time the last month trying to think clearly about where Neyborly is and could be going…beyond tomorrow, beyond next month. What if I’m blessed with the opportunity to be able to do this for the remainder of my career?

When I think for the longer-term, beyond our immediate needs of paying rent and keeping the Wi-Fi on…I feel a sort of ease and clarity that I don’t get when thinking about the day-to-day. Strangely enough, the long-term view is much easier for me to see than what will happen tomorrow. Maybe I’m extremely near-sighted and I need to get my glasses prescription checked…but regardless, the long-term makes sense to me, it’s the short-term that keeps me up at night.

Why do I think the long-term is so clear?

Because successful business is a process of cultivating mutualism. As your presence and resources grow, so to should your community’s stability, success, and health.

Personally, I only need a certain level of resources. A small, comfortable home to raise a few kids. A vehicle to get around with. Some good food, a shirt on my back, some savings for future education opportunities. But my needs are quite simple.

So the question I’ve been contemplating recently is what happens if I’m able to satisfy those needs in the future? What happens after that? Just follow standard American capitalist protocol and stockpile resources? Give it to charity?

Recently I’ve been thinking about a manner of business stewardship where the company’s excess profits are continually re-invested back into the ecosystem of the business. For example, cutting prices dramatically for local organizations, giving 100% of retail sales to artists, providing free space for youth activities, reducing hourly prices across the board so that more people can access our spaces.

We’ve been experimenting with some of these re-investment activities lately. The amazing thing is that it not only does it feel it like an appropriate way of thanking our community…it’s also helped the business grow.

Giving and receiving. Profiting and re-investing. It’s an appreciation of where the resources came from and an acknowledgment of the ways in which it was produced in the first place. The money that comes into your business was at one point soil, sun, sweat, backbreaking work, stress, and risk. And the best thing Neyborly can do, in our opinion, is to keep that energy and passion rooted in the places where it originally came from.

Re-investing growth in your customers and your community is the best way to advertise.

Similar to a healthy and vibrant coral reef, business is a highly-complex and fragile entity. Designing businesses to be mutually-beneficial, rather than tools for resource-extraction, allows for exponential growth effects to take place. The attention is placed on the re-investment into symbiosis, not how much and how fast money can be stockpiled.

Shout out Yvon Chouinard!!