Why Are We All So Obsessed With Independence?

I’ve long felt that this idea of supporting independent businesses is an outdated and in many ways dangerous obsession.

Indy is dead, we need to focus on a new ideal.

Photo by Jeswin Thomas from Pexels

The idea of independent businesses makes a lot of sense, a business rooted in its community which has no external influence or anyone sucking profits out of a local business. But it perpetuates a damaging myth:

Too many people think entrepreneurship is about going it alone, doing everything yourself.

This couldn’t be further from the truth, and creates a sense that you can’t ask for help, and if you do you’re not a real entrepreneur.

I’ll write about Impostor Syndrome in a future article, but this idea of being a real entrepreneur is something that comes up a lot when dealing with entrepreneurs at all stages, whether seasoned or newbies.

We need to talk more about what entrepreneurs truly are: interdependent. We need to refocus from the independence movement to a more powerful interdependence movement.

Interdependent is a much more accurate way to define a business with the values that we seek when we talk about independents. No cafe can exist without its suppliers, and how it chooses, treats and supports those suppliers is a fair better indicator of good values than the idea of staying independent.

No company is independent. Every company relies on the people who choose to spend their time working for it, the customers it serves, the landlord that provides the space to trade from, the bank that provides the funding to weather storms (or ought to), those suppliers who’s existence in turn creates the opportunity to have a business.

This isn’t about semantics, we need businesses to pull together. We need people to be able to ask for help, and we need business to reflect all of the shared effort that our society at its best can achieve.

By focusing on interdependence we can recognise those people, businesses and agencies within a system who enable the good work of others to make an impact. We can identify those who are not fair players, and that make life harder for others.

Like supermarkets who create impossible trading conditions for companies by pulling their products off the shelf if they don’t agree to unprofitable promotions, or landlords who don’t provide security of tenure, or companies who provide working contracts against the preferences of their teams.

We can focus on businesses that stay locally owned, with good governance loyal to its original mission and those it serves, but we don’t need to use the label independent to describe this.

It isn’t a coincidence that the B Corp contract that is signed is called the Declaration of Interdependence. This approach is the only approach that can foster the relationships we need to take on society’s greatest challenges.

As always, drop me a tweet and let me know your views – I’ve loved receiving feedback from you all since starting this series.

📬 №3/50 #50Things

I hope there’s some value in putting these down. I’d love to hear your perspectives on the topics, Twitter is the best place to find me: @GarethTSq

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Gareth I. Jones

Founder of TownSq, focused on building communities of entrepreneurs, supporting startups and B Corps - businesses that are better for the planet.