Business will be understood fundamentally differently for our kids, and it will be much better for everyone.
I am 21 years old, studying commerce, working in a startup, and doing social media marketing for my personal brand. I spend most of my time learning about, working in, and talking about business. I take particular interest in how business changes over time. We are at a point in history where things will shift as much as they did when TVs became household objects.
TV enabled consumer product companies to mass-market and grow like they never had before. Food, household, and lifestyle products were able to tell stories to customers at scale, and people still believed them. The car industry is a great example of this phenomenon. This led to massive growth of a handful of companies who — in hindsight — managed their growth less than perfectly.
The enormous growth of some of the largest companies in North America has led to what we have now; environmental catastrophes, disillusioned populations, and “mass-market” mentalities that don’t really benefit anyone other than the small group at the top.
This is accepted. We know this.
The exciting part is what is coming from this. We are seeing growth of local, ethically & sustainably focused, value-adding companies that have at their core the goal of providing the best experience for their customers without negatively affecting anyone. Companies like Matt & Nat in Montreal, who create vegan leather products, serve their local community and mitigate environmental harm, while still providing exactly the excellent service that their customers expect.
Companies like this are the future. We are realizing that there is a point at which there is no benefit — and in fact there is a negative effect — to scaling a company. At a certain level of growth, companies face negative marginal returns for society as a whole. In the same way as the happiness threshold income is $75,000, there is a value threshold size for companies.
We will see in the next few years what this threshold really is, but I believe there is a movement back towards small and medium businesses being the norm. People no longer want to feel like “average” consumers, we want individuality, human interaction, and we want to feel like we are connected to the mission of companies who’s products we love.
Where you come in is through what you buy. When you choose to buy local, buy sustainable, buy USED, you remove the power from the large companies and move it into the hands of those companies doing great work for the benefit of everyone. Your money and your voice are your greatest tools to help the people who want to change the world for the better!
This is an incredible movement, because the largest companies are often the source of much detriment to society, namely through lobbying, environmental impact, employee dissatisfaction, and more (depending on the industry).
Now, I don’t want to be misunderstood in saying this. I love business. I think capitalism is a great system, and we should not change how our system works at its core. Businesses are able to do many amazing things that individuals and governments often can’t. That’s why I love it so much. But we must not obsess over constant increases in sales, cost savings, and short term returns at the expense of our planet and our happiness.
I look forward to the future, and all of the amazing things we will be able to do, while being mindful of our environment, neighbours, and selves.