Why Freak Flags Fuel Growth

By Gil Gerretsen

If you are OVER 40, you'll probably groan when reading this, but after a few moments to think, you'll realize the truth of what follows. If you're UNDER 40 you'll totally understand and start to see new businesses opportunities ahead.

The modern social world has become highly fragmented, and the fragmentation is increasing rapidly. Friendships with neighbors and locals are becoming less common while friendships with distant kindred spirits are increasingly more common. Think about people you know who share vegan recipes, or actively participate in a band's fan club, or spend hours in discussion forums about a particular breed of dog.

Many people have more "online friendships" than they have face-to-face friendships. If they ever have face-to-face visits with those online friends, they will often travel significant distances to attend an event designed specifically for that group of people.

The social world, which was once hyper-local, is now hyper-specialized. More than ever, people enjoy letting their freak flags fly. Which is why over 80% of new business growth now happens within far-flung and extremely narrow social clusters. 

However, gaining traction within these clusters is difficult. People have built these communities on their own time, and they have many protective barriers to keep outsiders out. You won't get far, or last long, if you try jump in with both barrels loaded. Rather, seek and build relationships with key leaders or influencers. Use them to help you learn the lingo. Gain their trust slowly and you will be properly rewarded. However, always remember that you are a visitor, not a member.