Welcome to Digital Homesteading.

This collection of resources from 9 Clouds helps you build your business and community.


Find Your Inner Drake: How Collaboration Grows Your Business


This week, Drake broke the Internet.

The rapper released a new music video, not for consumption, but for creation. The video was a series of short scenes capturing Drake awkwardly grooving through open spaces with sparsely lit background. In other words, perfect for remixes.

Within hours, new versions of the music video were uploaded online. Drake as the Cosby Show intro, Drake playing tennis and Drake dancing to “Suavemente.”

This outpouring of creation confirmed two important lessons:

-We are all creators

-It’s not what you do, it’s who you inspire

We are hardwired to create.

Just like sleeping dogs help us sleep, we all have the ability and drive to create.  Now, it is easier than ever to share an idea. Even the simple and silly, like gifs of Drake dancing, are now a way to create and share an idea.

It may seem meaningless, but this tiny act of creation is practice and encouragement to continue creating. Someone who learns to add a light saber to Drake’s dance moves is ready to create their own digital designs and artwork. Someone who posts a selfie online is learning the power and reach their future creations could have.

As a business or community, our online actions should be more Drake than billboard. We are not simply telling people what we do, but instead, inviting them to participate in what we do.

Three Ways to Grow Your Business By Inspiring Creation (like Drake)

Your business should enable rather than advertise. There are three ways to do this.

1. Use Feedback to Improve Products and Services

Technology enables creation, but it also offers quick feedback from customers, collaborators and potential buyers.

Too often, businesses spend significant time and money on a product or service trying to guess what people will want.

Why not just ask them?

A perfect example is Jason Zook. He is well-known for creative entrepreneurial endeavours. He sold t-shirts for a living, sold his last name and recently had a unique idea: Why don’t I sell my future?

Anyone who bought his future would receive any of the products he makes in the future.

It seemed like a crazy idea, but maybe it would work.

Instead of just launching, however, he first looked for feedback. He asked friends and followers on social media if they wanted to help him with a new idea. He conducted 15 minute phone interviews with 44 people over two weeks.

These conversations had two important results.

First, the interviews shaped the product he would later launch.

As Jason notes:

Talking to your existing and potential customers let’s you hear them describe your product or service in their own language. Too often we, as creators of things, make assumptions about what we think people want (and how they talk about it) without actually asking them. Through talking to my potential customers I was able to find patterns in what resonated with them. I also learned words and phrases that ended up resonating with other potential customers like them.

Second, the conversations increased sales.

20 of his interviewees ended up purchasing his product at $1,000 each. By inviting others to shape his product, the interviewees were co-creators. They had skin in the game and were more likely to purchase.

It’s safe to assume that the 24 who didn’t buy were at least marketers, sharing the project with their friends. With personal outreach, Jason built an Action Army supporting his idea and growing his business.

In your business, ask potential buyers how to improve your products or services. Use their language in your marketing. Integrate their ideas and let them know that they’ve helped you. It is likely they will purchase or tell others about your products or service.

2. Build a Crowdsourced Event

Events can inspire and engage a community.

Three weeks ago, our community hosted Creativity Week. It’s the largest crowdsourced creativity festival in the country.

The premise is simple. Anyone hosting an event during Creativity Week can add their event to the schedule. Then the events are promoted together. This year, the organizers hosted only four of the 44 events. The others were crowdsourced, community events.

By welcoming others to be a part of the event, we ensured community engagement (and attendance) at the events. 

The best part of Creativity Week is that a large number of the events happen every week or month. The festival increases awareness of what is already happening in their own community. Once they attend the event, they will return and attend long after Creativity Week is done.

In your community, think how you could host an event with a large number of organizations. By partnering, you will have larger audiences and more support.

3. Collaborate to Help Your Customers

On Pamela Slim’s current Indespensible Community tour, she is promoting a simple and powerful concept (that Drake would approve of): your business is one member of your customer’s solution ecosystem.

A customer works with a variety of service providers and products, including yours. As Pam notes, we need to put ourselves in our customer’s shoes. What do they need to make their lives easier, not just from us, but from all the companies they work with?

When we think in terms of an ecosystem, we think less about increasing our market share and more about increasing the market.

Our businesses can think about complimentary businesses and work together to help customers. If you are an accountant, it might make sense to partner with a lawyer and the local print shop to help your clients. If you are a digital marketing company, like us, your customers may ask for online banking recommendations, help with traditional marketing or the best caterers for a live event.

Our businesses do not exist independently in the world. Instead, we are a part of our customer’s ecosystem. Worry less about getting your company found. Instead, collaborate with others to create a helpful suite of services. Customers won’t have to find you. You’ll be recommended to them by people they trust.

Enable Don’t Advertise

Your customers and community members are creators. Treat them like it.

Ask them for input, invite them to participate and collaborate to help them.

It matters less what we say and do and more how what we say and do inspires others.

Although we are all creators, it takes someone to encourage participation. Drake knows this. He launched his video, welcoming others to contribute. Doing so has unleashed a tidal wave of activity. Many of these people will buy his music or attend a concert, most of these people will share his video and their own remix, all of them now knows who Drake is.

Enable and don’t advertise. It will grow your business and inspire creation.


Photo: Thomas Szynkiewicz