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Nanocorps in Micropolis: Small Is Good in the Network Economy

Even the U.S. Census Bureau Understands the Implications of the Rise of the Creative Class in our Network Society

Nanocorps in Micropolis - Seeds of the Small Is Good Business Revolution

Given the cachet of the term, "Creative Class," and the status of counting yourself among its members, you might be led to thinking that members of the Creative Class are so hip, independent, and sought after that they are fully in the driver's seat of the network economy. Certainly many of today's workers are required to exercise creative discretion and independent action in increasingly decentralized and perpetually under-staffed workplaces. But in some ways, the Creative Class can be seen as a contemporary spin on the Knowledge Worker lionized over the last few decades, as we transition from the Industrial Economy to the Information Age.

Nanocorp and Dejobbed Small Businesses, elements of Small Is Good Business Revolution...

Truth is, although they may be creative, self-motivated, and largely self-managed, many Creative Class members are simply Worker Bees seeking to live in "cool" creative places. While their "hive" jobs may last only a few months rather than be a life-long career, they are nonetheless dependent on somebody creating the creative job that they fill.

To limit our appreciation of the Rise of the Creative Class to simply a new spin on workforce employment dynamics would be missing the seed of the revolution, already underway, in the way we relate to work and evolve our communities.

At Sohodojo, we've envisioned and pursued this dramatic shift in the nature of employment and business organization over the last five years. We've described the components of new forms of business as nanocorps, entrepreneurial free agents, dejobbed small business, and microenterprise networks. All these atomic elements are components of the Small Is Good Business Revolution. And this revolution is both indicative of, and takes best advantage of, the dynamics of the emerging network society, its associated network economy, and the rise of the Creative Class.

As the Creative Class evolves, it is diversifying. Alongside the traditionally-employed Creative Class, we see a growing number of entrepreneurial Creative Classers. Valuing their creative independence and flexibility, this new class of entrepreneurs is not focused on creating the Next Big Thing. Getting rich, accumulating more "toys," and living in a gentrified urban center are far from the minds of these folks. Creativity and Collaboration, not Command and Control, are the "two C's" that they value. They do not want to create or join traditional businesses. These Creative Classers are looking for new forms of organization and innovative business models. Like the society and economy they live in, entrepreneurial Creative Classers will gravitate to network-based businesses.

Learn more about this Sohodojo Must-Read book....

Microenterprise networks (ME-nets) will evolve to meet the creative and collaborative needs of this new breed of entrepreneur. Taking a page from our pre-industrial past, the guild form of organization will be increasingly relevant to these new collaborative business networks. MIT's Tom Malone and Robert Laubacher's article, Flexible Work Arrangements and 21st Century Worker's Guilds, is particularly relevant to this Creative Class trend toward entrepreneurial collaborative business models. (See also.)

Microenterprise networks are inherently decentralized and distributed. They rely on self-organization and peer management. They are fluid and flexible. As such, they are ideally suited as a business venture for solo and family-based entrepreneurs in rural and distressed urban communities. Physical place is less important than the virtual place of an extended community of shared interest.

As a visible committment to our belief in the emerging value of microenterprise networks as a component of local and regional economic development, Sohodojo has entered a strategic partnership with Iowa-based Soyawax, Inc. to launch and evolve The Village Chandler Guild, a microenterprise network of soybean wax candlemakers. The Guild is holding its First Continental Congress in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in late August.

The U.S. Census Bureau and the White House's Office of Management and Budget has recognized with their new designation of micropolitan areas – what we've known all along at Sohodojo – Small Is Good. We're not saying best nor necessarily preferred. Good, in this context, means appropriate and sustainable. Just as micropolitan areas are taking a rightful and distinct place in our categorization of habitation categories, so are nanocorps, dejobbed small businesses and microenterprise networks joining the ranks of available business organization.

As we witness and participate in the evolution of our Network Society and its associated Network Economy, we will come to understand the role and potential of collaborative business networks, large and small, in rural and distressed urban communities within our micropolitan and metropolitan regions. Small Is Good in the 21st Century.

If you want to be fully aware of and prepared to participate in the Network Society and Network Economy, we cannot recommend a better and more important book than Albert-László Barabási's "Linked: The New Science of Networks", now in paperback with an insightful Afterward added since the first edition. Creative Class member or otherwise, you need to read this book, period.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We invite your comments and inquiries about collaborative research and social action opportunities.

--Timlynn Babitsky and Jim Salmons--
Director and Entrepreneur/Futurist In Residence
NARFI - North American Rural Futures Institute
Founders and Research Directors
Sohodojo - 'War College' of the Small Is Good Business Revolution

Dig Deeper

Nanocorps in Micropolis is all about the emerging Network Economy. If you want to know more about these important ideas and you want to supplement your reading of Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class, we recommend the following:

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