Community opportunities and possibilities are everywhere
The more things change the more community opportunities open up because change brings with it new ways of looking at things. Look beyond the current reality and improved lifestyle and see what is possible, as a result, people will become more motivated. A community’s strength improves as the standard of business acumen and business knowledge improves. Your aim should be to create new conversations since they will lead to new relationships, better health and better businesses as well as nicer places in which to live.
While natural and man-made infrastructure is important to a community. It is the businesses and non-profits of the community that are its heart. They will create the jobs and drive the growth with new community opportunities.
The important thing about creating community opportunities will be to allocate time each day to take on new information. Record good ideas and opportunities you observe and start changing habits because one good habit leads to another. Don’t make excuses for why you can’t improve your community. Focus on all the reasons why you must make things happen because it’s your community too.
A clear direction energises people
A well-directed mission would empower people with the information, tools and practical knowledge. simply because they tend to focus their attention. Whatever the people need to achieve the success the community is looking for By focusing on community problems, frustrations, wants and needs you will generate new opportunities more quickly. Find the spirit of the community, and no challenge will keep it from achieving its goals.
Enthusiastic positive attitudes of the people contribute greatly with subliminal messages, as a result decisions are made and actions are carried out. Basically, their affirmations are absorbed directly into people’s subconscious minds allowing them to achieve their wants and needs more easily. It also improves the messages sent and left with visitors to the community.
Factors contributing to building community opportunities
Community businesses and non-profit community services organisations working more constructively together can create community opportunities. They tap into each other’s ideas and opportunities to expand their market area and make the pie larger.
Politics plays a role
The stability of the local government and the political environment is critical because it rduces chaos and uncertainty. Poor performance, uncertainty and conflict tend to undermine progress, but thriving communities can rise above the poor performance of governments and others who could impede their progress.
Academics and governments tend to discuss how global forces shape the choices we need to make about our communities, rather than the needs of the real people who live there. It’s great to think in terms of ‘regional development’ and ‘community strategies’, but it is the individual choices and actions that are the primary drivers. Unfortunately most government people have little small business experience.
Without large capital expenditure, growth and business prosperity can only come about through increasing entrepreneurial participation and this requires a catalyst, providing the community with endless opportunities. Unfortunately, most governments are like worn out engines. There is the occasional loud bang and puffs of smoke, but nothing much happens with business development.
Local governments can be pro-business development or against it, depending who is on the council. Many want things to be different but lack the practical knowledge to change the things that must be changed, if they are to survive. Still others, particularly those close to big cities with exploding populations, tend to sit back and just let things happen.
With the right encouragement, people are generally prepared to help and become involved in community activities. Some community leaders understand this and know how to motivate and encourage continuing engagement.
It is important that local government, business and the not-for-profit sectors in the community are not controlled by a few individuals. Open and transparent communities that cooperate and support each other, are the ones who generate unique opportunities and flourish.
Technology is critical for today’s communities
Communities thrive when business people keep up-to-date with globalisation and technology that drives it. They have an understanding of the impact of new technologies. They take advantage of cloud computing, mobile, social media, big data, robotics, 3D printing and other innovations.
Digital disruption is impacting many communities and across all industry sectors. This of course also uncovers new community opportunities. Disruptions are being created by more and more startups. They break through and disrupt communities and wider markets from their own community. Fostering this can help to establish new businesses that can protect and grow the community. Not understanding the impact of disruptions, can cause both businesses and the community to lose control, http://goo.gl/nkELO1.
Futuristic developments in things like 3D printing, drone technology, water management and robotics need to be addressed. Regional, rural and remote communities tend to be very innovative and this needs to be encouraged and nurtured. Unfortunately, the backup is not as readily available as it is in big cities. Particularly when Broadband communications are lacking.
Marketing of the community
Good communities don’t waste time complaining about their situation. There are always plenty of opportunities for people to meet and enjoy themselves. They ensure events are well publicised and are always run well. Not everyone knows how to stage a good event, so it is recognised that help is needed.
In regional communities where customers can be harder to come by. Customer service is highly valued and practised by many to ensure visitors have a memorable experience and want to come back, or at least spread the word.
It is important to have enough critical mass of the population, to allow for the viability of the communities businesses and services. Some smaller communities and villages find ways and means to make their community a great place to live, despite the lack of population. They know how to deal with ‘sponge cities’. There is a competitive spirit that helps to withstand the impact of external competitive forces and that drives them to look for business beyond their community. There are now many international businesses operating from a small regional community.
Call it an elevator pitch or your community’s story, it is a must have. If you don’t believe this is important, go and ask a few people at random, to tell you about their community. They will all give you different answers, both positive and negative. However, you describe it, being able to quickly summarise your community, in a positive light is a must. It can help community members engage with each other and with visitors to the community.
Working with others
When communities are closer together sufficient choice, quality and stock carry are required to attract regular customers into the local businesses. When communities are in close proximity there are ways of cooperating to compete and sharing of resources is just one of them. Cooperative marketing for an area is also of great benefit and less expensive.
Successful communities appreciate the fact that good people come in and out of their community every day. They do many things to capitalise on that fact and you can see it expressed on their websites and in social media. What actions are you taking to extend visitor’s stays in your community?
Good communities plan to attract influencers, to help take the pressure of the locals who are willing but are often ‘flogged to death’. Consider gaining access to external influencer’s or, using them as your community ambassadors. Set aside some of your marketing budget for their expenses. Often they won’t charge for their involvement if they are encouraged and not seen as ‘tall poppies’.
Education of the community
Business owners and community organisation’s knowledge of their business arena can uncover new possibilities to develop the community. They travel beyond their community seeking new ideas and opportunities to improve their businesses. Community opportunities can be more easily opened up by business people who are usually well connected and networked beyond their community.
Businesses are accepted as the engine room of good communities and opportunity generation. Successful communities are keeping abreast of attitudes towards business and implementing training tailored to their wants and needs. Home offices and lifestyle businesses are encouraged and specific opportunities are uncovered as the community strives to improve lifestyles. http://goo.gl/nNQgi3.
Opportunities abound with globalisation and the opening up of international trade. However, local businesses, need to be educated and encouraged about how they can become involved. This is particularly important in regional, rural and remote communities.
Close attention is paid to health and well-being of successful communities, http://goo.gl/6jmFb1. Helping and encouraging businesses and non-profits to work together on health and well-being issues needs to be encouraged more. Both have much to offer each other.
The education infrastructure of a thriving community must be relevant to the needs of the businesses and community organisations. This is important in retaining a growing the local workforce and retaining businesses. Unfortunately, many businesses in regional communities still tend to think that technical expertise is all they need to run a business or non-profit. They wonder why their businesses don’t work so well.
Communities need to understand the global economy
With ‘tunnel vision’ and ignorance, it is very difficult to see possibilities and opportunities of how communities work in a modern global economy. How communities are being impacted by external forces, such as the internet and technology in general.
Local businesses and organisations must take the time to have a good look around and see what is actually going on. Making assumptions based on the past is extremely dangerous. They need to look at communities that offer new opportunities, outside of their sphere of influence. Taking a ‘three hundred and sixty-degree’ view is important if surprises are to be avoided.
As you become more connected with the global economy, it makes sense to look outside the square (your own backyard) in order to move forward. Recognise that there are endless opportunities and possibilities. You must look outside your community for new innovation and be prepared to cast a wide net.
The old saying, “she’ll be right mate”, has lost its relevance. It will only be right if you don’t get stuck with the ways things used to be done. Be prepared to embrace change with an open mind. Don’t have your business and community bypassed and left to the history books.
High pricing structures across regional communities is no longer an excuse. Pricing needs to be consistent with good business practices. Communities should become more intolerant of external businesses. Like supermarkets, oil companies, insurance companies and overseas businesses along with organisations like Lotteries and other gambling organisations. This is because the revenue, cash flow and profits don’t circulate and fly straight out of the community. Communities must continue to foster buying locally, where everyone benefits.
The ‘engines of change’ impacting communities?
- The generation waves, the Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials.
- Telecommunications, broadband access.
- Information technology, cloud computing and mobility, big data.
- SEO and visitor experience on the community website and other aspects of social media.
- Innovation such as robotics and 3D printing.
- Population increases or population in decline.
- Immigration policies.
- Lack of advisors who advocates innovation and new opportunities.
- New tourism opportunities being opened up in the community or adjacent communities.
- Revitalised communities with new growth potential who develop ‘pulling power’.
- Downsizing of major corporations and government.
- Exploitation of natural resources.
- Government decentralisation policies.
- Research, change being done on purpose.
- Transport infrastructure, new roads, rail and air.
- Cultural changes.
- Sister city programs.
- Crime levels.
- Environment issues and protection.
- Government policies and instability.
- Merging of local government areas.
- Interest rates and availability of finance.
- The big changes can come about when communities work together to solve common problems.
- Big changes can also come about when businesses and community organisations cooperate to compete.
You can’t stop the engines of change or, the population ageing. People are not going to stop researching tomorrow to make a difference. What are the people in your community good at, where are their passions, what do they like doing and what are their strengths? Creating opportunities for your community can be challenging but by having and developing an ‘opportunity mindset’, great things can happen. Appreciate everything you have, engage with your community members and enjoy your community even more.
Experiential communities can make a difference
Listen to the people, particularly young people in the community. What are they saying, “this place is boring”? What do they want to do and how can the community accommodate their aspirations. It might mean the available education needs to be revitalised and the importance of the contribution they can make, recognised and rewarded. Improve the experiences people in the community have along with the visitors. The customer experience is critical in everything you do, from the meet and greet to the community website, http://goo.gl/0ceRxZ.
Look at ways and means of creating an “experiential environment” within the community. Places to go, things to do, allowing people to be experiencing things in new exciting ways, that pleases them and they will appreciate and remember.
World famous Sydney Opera House especially relevant to an experiential community.
Everyone in the community can contribute, they just need to be a little creative and innovate. Remember the things you enjoyed in the past. It may
generate some ideas. Encourage local people when they travel to look for new ideas and opportunities for the local population and what the tourists like to experience.
Most advances in science, business, technology and other fields of endeavour have been made by people who would not accept that something could not be done.
Communities priorities must be understood and actioned
It is sometimes very difficult to see all the issues and how things really are when you live in a community. This is particularly so with the changes taking place in the world at large. A real issue to overcome is to satisfy as many vested interests as practical and possible, without upsetting the majority.
One way to handle feelings of isolation is to engage some new partners. Partners you can discuss upcoming initiatives and objectives and who have connections to bring new opportunities to the community. Often willing partners are dismissed because the leaders in the community think they have all the answers. External partnership with practical experts can help the community to become more visible and contribute to making a bigger difference.
Communities who outsource community development can also reap many benefits because of th additional resources made available. This stops the community leaning on their own understanding of what is possible, Employing a full-time experienced person is expensive. Employing a younger inexperienced person is also expensive in that opportunities are not seen, or are lost. Young enthusiastic people employed in this area, are best utilised as coordinators.
The biggest thing I see in struggling communities is, their fail to claim their value with clarity and confidence and then market it well. They take what they have for granted and of no interest to others. Not having the words to describe their offerings holds a community back. Attracting more visitors will have a positive impact on everyone who lives and works in the community. Maximising this requires enthusiasm backed up with information and local knowledge.
There will always be winners and losers, swings and roundabouts.
Often it will take an experienced external facilitator to put all the issues on the table, prioritise, organise and implementation them. With litigation and conflict on the rise, you need to seek professional mediators in order to bring about positive outcomes to local issues. This needs to be done before they get out of hand. One person’s good idea for an improvement will surely be another person’s road to problems.
If is always difficult to get consensus when it comes to doing anything that requires change. Economic development and creating jobs is certainly no exception. There are many entrenched beliefs, special interest groups and of course, limited resources to do everything at once. The negative influences on ideas coupled with opportunity ‘killers’ and community ‘knockers’ can disrupt the best intentions.
Our saying “it’s too hard doing it by yourself” is very relevant in community development. This is because it takes an outsider to see facilitate the aspects of communities and their development with objectivity and perspective and with no axe to grind. If they are experienced, they will be able to run meetings and workshops effectively and efficiently while introducing methodologies and processes. They can also assist in the generation of ideas and opportunities and ideas for their development. Good facilitators are also experienced in handling difficult situations and difficult people.
Get to know your community. It’s not the community with the best tackle that catches the most fish; it’s the community who knows the fish.
Laziness can creep into a community and destroy the opportunities
“She’ll be right mate; there’s nothing I can do about the community, it’s beyond my control”, is heard all too often in struggling communities. Laziness is not trying very hard, avoiding strenuous tasks or heavy lifting, getting others to do the work or not even showing up. Some are quick to point fingers at others when they demonstrate this sort of slothfulness.
But there are other sorts of laziness, and they’re far more damaging. Emotional indifference is very different from physical inactivity, while it’s hard to measure it’s easier to avoid, and the consequences can be much more significant.
There’s the laziness of writing people off without doing the hard work of seeing them for who they are, and their capacity to contribute. There’s the laziness of bureaucracy, not wanting to make decisions because it means more work, defaulting instead to rules and systems.
Then there is the laziness of rules of thumb, or leaning on past experiences, it means nobody has to think very hard about issues. Lazy people don’t tend to accept personal responsibility for the state of the community and the decision need.
Doing the hard work involves embracing uncertainty, dancing with fear and taking responsibility before someone tries to give it to us.
Start from the beginning
The fifth point of the compass is, ‘where your community is at now’, where are the community opportunities? To arrive at where you want to go, start at the beginning.
- Study the history of the community and the region?
- What and where are the roots of today’s issues?
- List the things that made the community like it is today?
- Is there a ‘community development’ committee?
- Has there ever been one and what did they achieved?
- Does the community have an up-to-date knowledge base?
- What are the good and bad issues associated with the local government?
- Has an opportunity scan ever been undertaken?
- What have been the milestones in the community’s development?
- Who are the people who made the community great, the movers and shakers?
- What marketing has there been in the past?
- What happened to the ‘movers and shakers’, have they been ‘flogged to death’?
- Is there a local government Business Plan?
- How has the infrastructure changed, and what is changing in the foreseeable future?
- Be naive enough to do things differently; anyone can do the same old stuff.
- Is the current infrastructure adequate for a fresh approach?
- Never let the fear of getting involved stop you.
Given enough useful information, it becomes easier to chart possible solutions for the future of most towns and villages. Many want to jump in with the ‘big fix’ without any consideration to the underlying circumstances, or the people who have gone before. This results in the “here we go again” syndrome and community opportunities are lost.
Community opportunities start with what you have
It is no good just wishing and hoping that things will get better, or complaining about “if only we had …”. If communities are to move forward they have to take a fresh look at what community opportunities exist. Understand the true value (not the perceived value) of what community opportunities there are and make a start.
Every journey starts with the first step and it takes a lot of bricks to build a nice house
- How many businesses, not-for-profits and community organisations are there in your community?
- What is the breakdown of the business in size and type?
- Is there a balance in products and services provided?
- How are community opportunities generated?
- What natural assets does the community have?
- What man-made assets does the community have?
- Are there plans are on the drawing board ready to be actioned?
- What is the most important mindset shift for people in your community?
- Have they been involved with an ‘Economic Gardening’ or ‘Community Regeneration’ programs? If not, why not?
It can sometimes be difficult to know where to start creating community opportunities. The array of new ideas and opportunities can sometimes cause progress to be paralysed. An experienced facilitator will save a lot of procrastination and valuable time, months, even years. In the mean time valuable people may already be deserting your community, so you have to decide “can the community afford the loss to continue”?
What individual changes are taking place to generate community opportunities?
Some of the key things that will bring about needed changes will be the little things that people do:
Changing reading habits
Read new books, magazines and the Internet. Keep in mind that one idea leads to another. Keep the flow of good information and knowledge going.
Communicate with people who can help
There are people outside the community who can make valuable contributions as a result of someone communicating with them. Who are these people and how can you get them excited to help. Everything comes back to individual contacts.
Seek people who can motivate others
People who can excite people in their communities about a positive future and can help to make the necessary changes. Negative situations and negative people need to be avoided if you want things to happen.
Write people’s thoughts in a journal
Write articles about what you want. This can help in clarifying your thoughts and making them more realistic. At the same time, you capture good ideas that can be used at some point in the future. You don’t want to be continually ‘reinventing the wheel’.
Communicate with the people in the community
Avoid the practice of keeping people in the dark and keeping community opportunities to yourself because it will only negatively impact your business. It is their community too and most will want to be involved and contribute. But they must be shown how. Nobody likes the old style ‘secret societies’. Give more consideration to who you elect into the governments. Swinging communities seem to attract the most attention and new community opportunities, so it’s important to consider your vote.
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”. Milton Berle
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. Thomas Edison