The Grass-Roots Shared Economy
There are readers and followers of myself and my company that are undoubtedly wondering why we are making such a radical transformation in our business model. Instead of hiring mere “employees” throughout the world to sell our product and paying them as such, we’re partnering with people and, when they sell, actually sharing with them a healthy portion of whatever they make. The idea is to use Pipeliner CRM to help found businesses all over the world that continue to succeed and thrive as we do. While we’re technically the “entrepreneur” of the business, we refer to our partners as “salespreneurs” or “entrepreneurs within the enterprise” as they factually are. They’re taking risks, too, and reaping the rewards along with us.
There are definite reasons for this change.
Top-Down Versus Bottom-Up
I doubt there is anyone who would ever say that an autocracy—which means, basically, a government ruled by one person (such as a dictatorship)—is a very friendly form of government. Such forms totally hinder freedom and rob liberty, as the ruler and the elite retain power and control for themselves. They attempt to have exclusive control of financial resources and, in some extreme cases, knowledge. It is most definitely a top-down approach.
A much more beneficial view—and one that I see—is viewing the world as a whole, and creating a grass-roots movement which lifts the world up from the bottom.
Why Not in Business?
What’s interesting is that a bottom-up grass-roots approach has never been applied as a business model for a company. Businesses are mainly autocracies—ruled from the top down and are not shared economies.
I’m certainly not a communist—I’m actually a libertarian Austrian-School economist—but I really feel we need to make a change here. Why? Because in some way we need to vastly improve the situation on Earth. Less than 1 percent hold roughly 45 percent of the world’s wealth, while 70 percent of the world’s population possess less than 3 to 5 percent.
We look at a country such as North Korea and we see that a top-down dictatorship rule totally strips the population of their freedoms and liberties. But economically and business-wise we operate in much the same way. We can look at a company like Apple, or even Google, and see that we’re dealing in a system that truly profits only a few “special” individuals such as investors, top company executives and board members. If you cannot buy stock, you don’t profit, and those who work for their suppliers in developing countries cannot be said to profit in any way at all—most live in poverty and work in substandard conditions.
To me, the best example of this top-down model is Uber, which began as a great concept of a perfectly shared economy. In the beginning, people were earning decent money. But today, after working 2 other jobs, people are jumping in their cars to work yet a third job, for relatively little money. Uber has become a great business model for Wall Street and investors, but for those actually putting in hours with their own vehicles, not so much.
This “top-down” system is much like a pyramid, where the majority of riches are at the top, and then spread out wider and thinner as the bottom is approached. When they reach the bottom there is little left to go around.
An Urgent Time for Change
It is for that reason that, at Pipeliner, we are changing our business model. We’re aiming to liberate, provide freedom to, and allow others to share in our wealth. We feel that there is an urgent need for such action today before the “top-down” approach pushes the world to the point of no return.
We have begun our new program with the country of Nigeria. In some ways, that’s just a coincidence, but in other ways, I feel like we owe Africa. For thousands of years, much of Africa has been ruled through old autocratic systems, only purposeful for a few. It goes all the way back to ancient Egypt, where a very small minority ruled, and thousands assisted them to live their extremely affluent lifestyles.
Today, how much has this changed? Let’s be really honest. If less than 1 percent of the world’s population controls 45 percent of its wealth, and we have someone like a hedge fund manager earning $1.5 billion a year, aren’t we still very much out of proportion? I’m certainly not against people earning good money, but this seems to be a ridiculous extreme. Such extremes lead to an erosion of the middle class—and in the last few years, for the first time since the end of WWI, the middle class has shrunken considerably, Such a trend only leads to higher crime, unemployment rates, and other socio-economic ills. It can’t end well for anyone if it isn’t halted very soon.
We’ve seen that people can have ambitions other than profit—simply look at the different non-profit organizations in the world, and the amazing amount of work people will put into them with no return. Why can’t we bring similar types of sharing ambitions into our companies, where we’re allowing more people to get a slice of the overall pie?
Beginning with Education
A primary focus of everything I do with my company has always been education because education itself creates freedom by enlightening people and opening up possibilities. Educated people are able to raise themselves up and cannot be controlled. Education spawns creativity and innovation.
Therefore education is the main part of our new business model. We not only want to educate our new global business partners on our product and product philosophy but on sales, sales management and business in general. We want to help guarantee success for everyone.
Through education, we are providing skillsets that are truly needed for operating in today’s sales environment. We’re doing this through several different kinds of learning environments, such as the online extension of De Paul University’s sales training programs, and our own Learning Management System which will soon be online.
For my company and for myself, our drive goes well beyond simply having the most visual CRM product on the market, one that every company needs. We want to give our partners the chance to really build something—to create wealth and produce peace for their communities and countries.
A philosophical base for our new direction can be found in the African philosophy of Ubuntu.
Interestingly, Ubuntu is the name of an open-source Linux-based operating system, which we actually use in our development of Pipeliner. But what does this word, which comes from the African Bantu language, really mean?
There is a story that’s been verbally handed down about an anthropologist who was living with an African tribe for a time, He proposed a competitive game for the children of the tribe. Placing a basket of fruit near a tree, he announced that the first child to reach the basket could claim it and eat all the delicious fruit it contained.
The anthropologist drew a starting line in the dirt, and yelled, “Go!” He expected that the children would be pushing and kicking each other out of the way, or that the fastest runner would break out of the crowd and claim the prize.
Instead, he was amazed when none of the children leapt out. Instead, they joined hands and, as a group, ran toward the basket. They reached it at the same time and claimed it as a group. They sat down together, and all partook of the fruit.
The word that the children used to describe what they did was “ubuntu.” It literally means, “I am because we are.” The children elaborated with, “How can one of us be happy if all of the others are sad?”
It is exactly this spirit which we are seeking to bring to the world with our new program.