After several quiet months, I’m hearing of more and more people who want to get involved with cryptocurrencies, and not just buying and selling. I’m hearing about people who want to start crypto-related businesses, even things like crypto-themed bars. These people need some orientation and most long-time crypto advocates are simply too overwhelmed to help much.
So, if you’re thinking of getting involved with cryptocurrencies, I’d like to give you the lay of the land, because crypto is not like other kinds of business.
Here are five things you should understand:
#1: It’s not just about money.
If you want to gain any amount of respect among crypto people, you’ll need something more than just a way to make money… you’ll need a why. If you don’t have something driving you besides naked profits, most people will shy away from you. They’ll probably be quite polite about it, but they’re not going to invest their passion in your venture… and probably not their money either.
Bitcoin is far bigger than just money, and so are its children (the newer cryptocurrencies). What Satoshi Nakamoto created was a decentralization tool… something the world had never seen before. It’s going to take you some time to wrap your head around that, so you should get started as soon as possible.
Bitcoin inaugurated a new step in social evolution, and you’ll need to understand that if you’d like bitcoiners to take you seriously.
#2: We’ve had way too many hopeful projects.
For several years we’ve seen a stream of ideas that I can only characterize as “hopeful”; they relied on the genius of crypto to make everything work. But crypto isn’t magic, and we’ve learned that hopeful projects don’t work out.
So, if you want people to throw coins into your project these days, you’ll need more than just excitement; you’ll need adult-level plans and products. Throwing “blockchain” into your product’s name isn’t going to work anymore… and it was a mistake that it ever did.
#3: A whole lot of us are not impressed with “meeting regulations.”
Government regulations are the impositions of centralized regimes… of fear- and violence-based regimes. Large numbers of us want as little to do with them as possible. And so, when someone comes into a meeting and brags about their product being compliant with government edicts, we mutter “barbarity” to ourselves and look around for something more interesting.
What percentage of the crypto-economy do such people account for? I don’t know, but it’s a significant percentage, and it may in fact be growing. (It takes a while to really “get” decentralization, but nearly everyone eventually does.)
In #1, I said that Bitcoin was a new step in social evolution. Governments, functioning on a model that’s more or less unchanged since the Bronze Age, are quite the opposite. To put it simply, government money and all that’s attached to it enforces the past.
Some significant percentage of the crypto world is deeply interested in creating a better future and will walk away from gleefully compliant companies… or at least hold their noses if they have to use them.
#4: Don’t make appeals to authority.
You are not going to impress most of us when you advertise that your new thing is supported by the European Union or a Fortune 100 company. We’re not seeking the approval of authority, and we’re not awed by them. You’ll find exceptions of course, but most of us look at authority as fundamentally retrograde. Neither do we find corporate-speak comforting.
And please don’t imagine that the system at large is going to love crypto someday. Decentralization is fundamentally at odds with centralization.
#5: People in the crypto-economy are more concerned with morality than are people in government economies.
The morality of government economies (such as it is) is imposed with force. In a crypto-economy, no such centralized force is possible. So, whatever morality there is in a crypto-economy is brought into it by the participants. As a result, crypto people pay more attention to the ethics of others, and they’re far more likely to examine the person they’re dealing with.
Granted, a fair amount of “crypto” business has been done in government currencies, but in the rest of the crypto-economy, people understand that morality matters, and they may want to understand yours before doing much business with you.
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