When community invests in an idea, it also co-owns its success.
– Nilofer Merchant, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era

Your business is not yours alone. Welcome to the brave new world of co-creation and co-ownership. Here, individualism coexists with collectivism. Here, the results of your ambition rely on your ability to create the network that allows you to succeed.

So the question is: are you creating a customer network that is ready to co-create your vision?

There is a piece of “popular” business advice that asserts that “you should teach what you know to people who are a few steps behind you.”

For instance, if you’ve worked through a big personal transformation, you can become a life coach & help others through their own personal transformations. If you’re a blogger, you can help others set up their own blogs. If you write books, you can teach beginning authors how to get published.

Makers, keep reading, I’m not going to let you off the hook.

Hey, this isn’t a bad idea. In fact, this is probably a decent way to get started serving others and making money doing it. You’ve honed in on a specific problem that you can solve and you’re willing to put a price tag on it. Sure, go for it.

But where will you go next?

Honest question.

You can keep serving these clients, incrementally increasing the sophistication of what you’re offering. As you solve new problems for yourself, you can turn those solutions into products and services.

It makes a lot of sense and it can work. Just like monetization.

But will you be satisfied?

I like a challenge. I love the thrill of unleashing my great work for clients who scare the pants off of me. My work gets better & better in environments of great uncertainty.

Having a client that challenges me doesn’t mean that my back is against a wall, it means that my eyes are open to the full array of possibilities before us both. I’m not relying on personal experience or a single formula for my success. It’s an opportunity ripe for never-tried-before ideas and mutual magic-making.

By honoring their experiences, their knowledge, and their trust in our work, we can create something brand new. Together.

I used to feel threatened by the brilliance of my clients. I worried that I failed them when they had an idea or a revelation that wasn’t directly prompted by …me. And then I realized that our very connection was what made that possible. When working with clients that challenge me, I don’t have to be the end-all-be-all in business strategy.

No, it’s my job to co-create the space for our mutual success.

I can be the catalyst. Our work together is the entry point. It isn’t confined to my knowledge & expertise; it’s open to collaboration.

When you & your clients are co-owners of collaborative success, you both are creating something more meaningful than livelihood or results. You are creating movements, future opportunities, and networked transformation. The effects are more wide-reaching, the value is more long-lasting. The possibly of up-ending the status quo is much greater.

But will I rise to the occasion?

Look, it’s easier to cultivate a social network of people who want to be like you. To do what you’ve done. To grasp a little piece of your success. But the rewards of creating network connections to those who are ready to co-own your success are vast.

It can be the difference between slogging by doing something that once thrilled you and forging a new path to a more lucrative future, both financially & meaningfully.

  • Are you cultivating a network of yes-people? Or are you gathering a select tribe of idea-challengers?
  • Are you going with what you know? Or are you seeking out opportunities for growth?
  • Are you seeking out reinforcement of your own experiences? Or are you creating a hub for shared intelligence?

“… attracting and seducing consumers with a relevant, helpful, and unique point of view works better than shoving more messages into the already loud marketplace.”
— Nilofer Merchant, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era

But how will I find these people?

Here’s a common exercise I do with clients who are ready to make this jump:

Look around your network right now. Make a list of 5 people with a “relevant, helpful, and unique point of view” who are connected to you in some (even tenuous) way who could benefit from your time, talent, and skills.

  • How would working for them be different than working with the clients or customers you currently have?
  • What conversations or projects would get their attention?
  • If you were working for/with them, what changes would you make to the day-to-day operations of your business?
  • What problems or desires would you be working on?
  • How would your message be different if it was crafted for them and not the mass market?

“Attracting and seducing” the clients that will take your business to the next level begins with everyday changes in behavior. If you don’t adjust your routines, expectations, and message to be especially for them before you attract them, you’ll never have the opportunity to co-create your next-level business with them.

The answers to the above questions are your first steps. Those answers will guide you towards making the changes today that will breed success tomorrow. Those answers will help you step into the attitude of success before it’s even created.

Essentially, you’re inviting your future customers to co-own your success before they’ve even invested in your world.

And that’s why those kind of customers are powerful. And why that’s the kind of people you want to be in business with.

— PS —

I wrote this post with service providers in mind. But product creators & makers, you don’t get off so easy. I see so many makers limiting their visions to a customer who doesn’t fully appreciate what they do. And it shows. What happens if you challenge yourself to create your product for a more challenging set of customers? What would need to change about how your make, market, and sell your creation? How could your product fulfill the ultimate fantasy of a very special network?

Are the customer you’re courting ready to co-own your success?

— PPS —

If this is the kind of leap you’re looking to take in your business before the end of the year, I invite you to join me, Adam King, and a small group of dedicated business owners for Make Your Mark. It’s a 12-week, intensive business coaching program designed to allow you take on challenging, satisfying work that creates loads of personal wealth.

And it’s the only opportunity to coach long-term with me with Fall. There are a limited number of spots on the team – and they’re going quickly! Click here to learn more.