Build a Tribe Not a Business

11 Sep


Does your business make sense? Do your employees, customers, and vendors support what you do? Are they excited to be a part of your cause? Form a tribe instead of a business and you’ll have no problem with motivation and money. We’ll show examples of businesses that act as tribes and how it works.

What are tribes? How do they apply to business?

Historically, tribes are small groups of people who band together to survive. Often, their connection is geographical; tribes serve as a way for nearby individuals, many of whom would perish on their own, to enter into a life-sustaining collective.

In other words, each individual makes up a crucial part of a larger whole. Group dynamics reflect that. Decisions, for example, are made to benefit everyone in the tribe, and it is common for most, if not all, of the group to be involved in decision-making processes.

That is not to say tribes have no leaders – on the contrary, many have strong leaders. However, in ideal cases, their role is to ensure the tribe’s survival, not to play out individualistic desires for power and glory.

Shared passion can fuel a different type of tribalism. It bands individuals together through a common interest or goal, one that transcends basic elements of survival. When cultivated in business, this mentality can be powerful. Employees that function as a tribe will be loyal and motivated. Customers that feel like they belong to a business’s tribe will be loyal, too.

How do you build a tribe?

Many business settings involve adversarial exchanges. Employees square off, asserting their skills and dominance. Many like the idea of moving up the career ladder, where they can hold a leadership position that allows further dominance. Those up the leadership ladder supply solutions; those below do not.

Tribes work differently. Instead of one-upping, a member of a tribe is more likely to assist. After all, you have to get through problems together. Everyone pulls weight, because if the group fails, everyone feels the dire consequences.

In modern business, this dynamic is perhaps most often seen at start-ups. Employees are few, and failure is a constant threat. Everyone must band to together to survive. Since working conditions can be so demanding and unpredictable – hours are long and rarely is there any guarantee for gainful, long-term employment – the passion element must be there, too.

However, this mentality can be found at any workplace, large or small. As long as workers feel like they are contributing to something great, and that their contributions are valued, you have the makings of a business acting as a tribe.

That enthusiasm often affects customers, as well. Many brands that show tribalism amongst employees have customers who share the same passion. They offer more than a product – they offer way of life.

Tribal business

Which businesses have developed a tribal following? Apple is a great example. Those involved with the company are passionate about their products, and they use them throughout their everyday lives. Google is similarly tribal. In its early days, it was made up of a few passionate people trying to change the Internet; now, many more people are on board, but the passion is still there.

Outside of technology, the event Burning Man is another business fueled by tribal ideas. The annual week-long event in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada is a magnet for people seeking a way to explore their creativity and self-reliance. It sees over 50,000 participants each year.

Tribal ideas help reveal how people want to belong to something greater than themselves. They want to work collaboratively, not combatively, and they want to be passionate about what they do. By creating a tribe, not a business, you are more likely to have motivated employees and loyal customers.

Guest post contributed on behalf of – providers of Social Services Software.



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