“My first business was wildly successful except for never making any money,” is something that you’ll often hear me say.
That first business was Phoenix Games, and it created a robust and valuable community that was a great value for many of the people who were part of it.
Ultimately that community was done in by the scarcity created by the lack of money and by my own youthful arrogance.
I’ve always been a community builder. I personally crave connection, and I have never been terribly good at keeping track of individual friends. When I build a community, a space, whether physical or virtual, where the kind of wonderful people I like to associate with can come together, I can find the connection that I seek.
I hope that this also helps the other people in the community to find the connection, support, and love that they seek as well.
As I have been building the Entrepreneur Mentor Community, I have been giving a lot of thought to what would make it successful. Yes, I would like it to be profitable. It’s not a charity. It is a business. But money is a side effect of doing it right.
Too many people try to build “communities” that are nothing more than sales funnels. They are icky and gross. They are a pale simulation of community. Worst, they feed on our deepest desires as humans and feed us fake connection with the intention of manipulating us out of our money.
Then there are some who do an amazing job at building a loving and supportive business community. Joint Venture Insider Circle does an incredible job of this. When I attended their live event in October, it was like a family reunion. Hugs and smiles all around. Sure the event had good content, but what made it worth the trip was the feeling of connection.
So, what is my KPI on the Entrepreneur Mentor Community and other communities I might build? It’s my funeral. And my anniversary. And my birthday party.
I have come to realize that the ultimate measure of success for me is not how much money I can get in my bank account. It’s how many people will show up to my funeral. You show up to the funeral of someone who has touched your life, someone who has made a difference for you.
I want a community where there is true connection. I want the kind of place where if someone in the group hears that you’re coming to town, they’ll say “The door’s unlocked. Come on by.” I want a community of people that I’d trust to teach my daughter.
It’s not that money’s not important. My first community failed because money is the lifeblood of any enterprise. Without it, you can’t keep the lights on.
Money is so important that it must be made the right way.
And the right way is to build that community of trust, support, and love. People want to do business with people that they can trust. Not some artificial “know, like, and trust” but honestly and authentically knowing, liking, and trusting them.
That cannot be achieved through any funnel or any marketing strategy. It can only be achieved by putting good people in proximity (physical or virtual) over time to develop relationships.
As I look at the list of people I have invited as Mentors, and those I am continuing to invite. I give no thought to how much revenue they can bring to the project. I invite people who have the right spirit, the right energy, and the right character. I invite people who can help build this kind of space, and who, hopefully, are as excited as I am to be part of it.
Sure, we’ll make money, but my mission is to create something so much more valuable than that: a community.