There are two types of social business

One makes money by selling information about a community.

It’s customers are either you, or third parties like advertisers. It will often use a set of free products to encourage you to participate by creating, sharing or consuming content. [1. Facebook makes money by selling well targeted adverts, based on knowing lots about you and your life. It knows about your life because it offers you interesting ways to share what you’ve been doing, and a single place to find out about your friends.]

The other sells things to support a community.

It uses commercial success to support the market or environment it operates in, and exists only to generate value for the cause it champions, or the change it wants to effect. [2. 15 Queen Street makes money by charging small, local owner-operated businesses for a space to run their business, and by offering local organisations space to run events. This kind of environment helps support the growth of existing small businesses, and makes it easier for new ones to start. It helps keep entrepreneurs and the enterprising in one place, and encourages others to follow.]

Over the past 10 years I’ve been inspired by building both. Most recently it’s been the first kind. Knowing how to build a community has never been a more valuable skill, or a more rewarding thing to do.

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