Counter-Culture: Business

By Warren Bujol | 1/20/2015

The generation that brought us such great hits as; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, has inadvertently redefined business as we know it. It is no secret that the US of A has been well on its way to a service-driven economy, but we now have a limitless spectrum of industries which fall under the service umbrella. Imagine business as music; where we once had Rock n Roll, Country, Jazz, Hip-Hop, we now find; Dubstep, Dub-folk, Indie Rock, NuMetal, Alternative…the list goes on. I welcome diversification, but it has made it very difficult (damn near impossible) for me to explain to someone what type of music I listen to. It is only logical to assume that the generation that refused to let its musical preferences be lumped into broad – easily explainable – categories, would similarly reshape the parameters of the business world, which it would soon populate. This paradigm shift has opened the door for new, and creativity-fueled opportunities.  

With a monumental expansion on our horizon, it would be prudent for Lake Charles businesses to acknowledge the new laws of the jungle. To assist in this process, I have listed a few (not all) defining factors in the business world…

1. Consumerism is dying. 

Edward Bernays was right all along; we are a herd, and we need to be told what we want. Eddie knew how to work a crowd. He put cigarettes in our hands, and convertibles under our asses. He created a need for things we never knew we wanted. He found a way to methodically influence our behavior through propaganda. But with the introduction of the Internet, as well as a few fiscal-missteps, we have become much more aware of the dangers of liberal financial habits. By looking at the chart below, you can see the economy evolving from an excitable little kid, into a fiscally-responsible adult, overwhelmed by the burdens of being a grown-up.

The gross domestic product (GDP) is one of the primary indicators used to gauge the health of a country's economy. It represents the total dollar value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period. As you can see, the periods of consumption growth are decreasing at a steady rate. There are several factors which encourage/discourage consumer spending on short-term levels, but overall, we are seeing shorter periods of increased spending habits. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but business owners need to find new ways to entice a more fiscally-responsible customer base. 

2. Entrepreneurs are getting younger.

Millennials, and those just a little too old to fall in that category, are finally making our way into the business world. We couldn’t live with our parents forever, but we are going to need jobs now to pay our mortgages. This generation was raised (some of them anyway) to believe that they were talented, unique, and could accomplish anything they put their minds to. While this wasn’t always true, our parents’ encouragement has begun to impact the business-landscape. Although there are many absolutes in business, i.e. make money, it seems as if many start-ups are now developed as a means to pursue passions, rather than a purely profit-driven opportunity. A few examples locally; Botsky’s, Walker Williams, Killerdye, and Pops and Rockets, have capitalized on this mentality. By expanding the things they love/love to do into feasible business models, they have created legitimate value to their offerings. When you order a meal from Botsky’s, it is undeniable that the delicious hot-dog you are about to destroy with your mouth, is worth every penny. Sure, Sonic has had a couple funny commercials, but that doesn’t mean their hotdogs aren’t disgusting, “meat-like”, gray-tubes of heart attack. Walker Williams, the mild-mannered, artistically-inclined, super-duo, has forged a partnership between authentic-art and commercial application. We have become accustomed to the mediocrity of advertisements and branding, creating the perfect opportunity for a Walker Williams assault. Where other artists mocked and demonized the commercial-world; WW infiltrated the machine, to engage in artistic-espionage. Their passion alone has compelled me to entrust them with the artistic direction of this very magazine. That and their talent…they’re incredibly talented. As a business, it is important to surround yourself with talent; which brings us to our next factor…

3. Synergy is a force-multiplier.

In the business dark-ages, prison rules were in effect. It was cut-throat. Business owners would often seek therapy to cope with the horrible things they had to do in order to survive. But the times, they are a changin’. To prove this, I encourage our readers to pick up a Jambalaya, Lagniappe, or Voice Magazine next time you see one. There is no real reason for you to have only one source of local magazine entertainment. Well, maybe that’s more sportsman-like conduct than synergy, but you can still do it, we don’t mind. As for actually synergy, the new passion-based focus of business will create weaknesses just as commonly as it does strengths. It takes more than a great product to make a business successful. While passion can give your product/service an edge, it doesn’t grant you a well-rounded business sense. Cooperation between businesses can be mutually beneficial for all parties involved, to include the customer. Chuck Fest, a music and arts benefit for the Tipitina’s Foundation**, was largely successful due to the combined efforts of multiple businesses; Luna Live, Walker Williams, Killerdye, and Companies that work with others to maximize potential, have a better chance of survival (in most industries). A synergistic approach allows businesses to form sustainable partnerships which can expose new, previously unidentified, opportunities. Learn your strengths to attract firms which could compliment your weaknesses.  

4. Business is technology-based.

No explanation needed. 

5. Innovation pays the bills.

When your parents were kids and they had a great idea, your grandparents, more than likely, told them, “shut-up and get a job. Dirty Hippie.” Well, in 2015, your ideas are worth tons-of-money. Just look at Facebook. Somehow, we [humans] figured out how to make billions of dollars from a social media site designed for stalkers. All it takes is one good idea to completely reshape an industry. For a business to succeed, you need to be proactive, not reactive. Case in point; Blockbuster. Blockbuster failed to properly identify and address the threats that the Internet posed to the movie rental powerhouse. They hesitated to act, and before you knew it; Netflix was apologizing for rate increases, and you had forgotten that Blockbuster ever existed. Blockbuster had an outdated business philosophy, shaped by complacency. Businesses today must encourage innovation among its ranks, and be willing to think outside the box. There is no limit to the value of a good imagination, and all it takes is one good idea to make or break your business.

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