The business world is filled with many notions of what it means to be in business. What are the defining characteristics? What are the frameworks to employ? How best to do all of this economic shit?

The answer is, of course, that there is no single right answer.

But there are some useful distinctions.

Being self employed is not the same thing as building a business. Building a business is not the same thing as creating an S-Corp. Or any other form of corporation for that matter. Working as a contractor is not the same as employment is not the same as consultant on retainer.

But they all serve a place.

We won’t get into all of these here, there are better places for you to get that information.

At the end of the day, what’s important is to know some general frames:

  • Being self employed is simply working with no boss, producing your own product or service, in a way that uses your time, energy, and resource.
  • Creating a business is externalizing that into it’s own entity that, with a bit of hiring and training, can run without your direct time, energy, and resource.
  • Forming any of these into corps, non profits, trusts, commons… is simply structuring it in a legal way to achieve a specific objective.

As well, Self employment breaks down into a number of options:

  • Project based contractor; working for another individual or business on a specific objective. As a sole proprietor or via a one-person LLC.
  • Project based consultant; providing your expertise as advice for a specific objective or project. As a sole proprietor or via a one-person LLC.
  • Monthly Retainer contractor; working for a set number of hours providing your expertise as a service for an agreed upon monthly payment.
  • Monthly Retainer consultant; working for a set number of hours providing your expertise as advice, on the same monthly payment.

There are obviously many variations, but these will account for most self employed entrepreneurs,

So here’s where it gets fun.

If you are choosing to be self employed, you’re in a unique position to create…

A Cohort.

Essentially, a cohort is a collection of self employed individuals with unique expertise coming together for a particular projector objective.

You’ve seen these in some popular movies such as “Ocean’s 11”, “Inception”, “Hackers”, “Lord of the Rings” and “The Social Network”.

Nevermind that half of those are technically depicting illegal activities. For a more in depth discussion of cohort, I suggest an extremely informative but fairly heavy book called “The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age”.

The bottom line is this:

Where a self-employed individual would usually acquire their own clients or be contracted by someone with their own clients, a Cohort comes together to serve the client directly, or create a product spontaneously. Generally speaking, Cohorts also lack a hierarchy; though a director can be useful for organization sake.

In the coming age of business and society where most, and eventually all people will be self-employed to some degree, Cohorts are an excellent way to take advantage of Scalable Adaptive Capacity without all of the legal complexity or long term commitment of traditional business structures.

Now you might be thinking, ‘Dearest Cedric, how in the flying flip does this have anything to do with emergent systems?’

Essentially it’s this: As we move towards transition systems that will subvert the old methodology (which is pointing us directly at extinction) and towards new ways of operating (which will hopefully point us at survival)…

  • There will be products, temporary services, or objectives of some nature that ‘the world simply needs to have’.
  • There will be products, services, or objectives that one individual can’t readily handle alone.
  • There will be events to be addressed that require expedition and efficiency.

But in these particular cases, an entire corporate structure or official business formation is over-done. The individuals have their own expertise, services, and products. The cohort forms to achieve a goal, and disseminates afterwards, having completed their objective.

Now, this is not to say they only ever work together once.

Just as in “Inception”, the cohort may form, disperse, and reform -possibly even with a few characters switched or added- many times. You may find yourself with a short list of individuals that have expertise you don’t, and form cohorts for projects multiple times a year with different combinations.

The difference is this: formal business structures are defined to fill an ongoing need in a particular market, and often represent the externalized passion of their founder.

Cohorts form for a completely different reason: to full-fill a particular need with a specific objective, and often represent the conglomeration of passions of the members.

In this way you might be an owner or employee in a business and participate in cohorts.

This ability to rapidly form teams will greatly enhance our ability to shift into an emergent transition system, and ultimately train you in crucial characteristics such as adaptability, flexibility, creativity, and interpersonal proficiency.

And if you’re interested,

I’m forming a “roster” of individuals for potential cohorts. You can find the list of roles I’m currently interested in connecting with for future projects.