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How Joseph Gordon-Levitt Built his Company with a Zero-budget Strategy

“You don’t have to do this in isolation. When you have that creative urge to do something, you don't necessarily know [how to apply it.]"

The dream of all entrepreneurs, something that only a few gifted, emotionally aware, mission-oriented ones can make happen is organic growth for their companies. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of those few who has made it. I recently had the chance to ask him about his company, HitRecord, an open online community for creative collaborations, and its zero-budget strategy at Collision in Toronto, and am sharing his tips with you here. Read on to learn how your mindset affects your business and save a ton of money that you are currently throwing into ads.

1. Create a safe environment

If you are trying to understand the nature of organic growth and engagement, you need to understand that you can’t force it and you can’t beg for likes. You have to create a vulnerable, but safe place where engagement can happen, where customers and fans feel like they belong, and where they can share and connect with others. This is something that Gordon-Levitt understood early on with his company,  “Coming [to the platform] and finding a bunch of people who can make something together is a very unique experience. It’s not like you are telling them to share something,” Gordon-Levitt says. “We’re able to encourage people to be creative by offering up these really specific creative prompts that can sort of break the blank page syndrome.”

2. Make your community feel connected

If you analyze platforms and profiles that grow organically, it’s usually because of the sense of belonging or inspiration it offers. Make your fans and customers feel connected, inspired or understood, and you never have to worry about organic engagement again. Offering the kind of content they use on social media is almost like giving your customer base a muse 24/7, and for a creative person, that is the biggest gift.

3. Encourage collaboration

When I tell someone that I’ve published nine books, they always tell me, “I have a story, too! One day I am going to share it.” But they never seem to do it. I’ve been always fascinated thinking about what it takes to make creativity sustainable, and for sure, one of the biggest things is finding people to help you through the process and to also keep you accountable.

As Gordon-Levitt said in his talk at Collision about creativity and technology, “You don’t have to do this in isolation.” I love this concept because it’s also about how to make the process smoother. “When you have that creative urge to do something, you don’t necessarily know [how to apply it.] We allow people to come together and make things together that they wouldn’t have been able to do by themselves,” says Gordon-Levitt.

4. Create a community

If you take a look at most social media accounts, what they really show is one-way communication: the account shares something, they want you to react, but they don’t really engage with their communities. That’s why companies like HitRecord are different: they give their community a voice. Not only do they let them succeed, but they show them that they are included. “There’s a call to action that says ‘draw a picture of the sun’ or ‘add your voice to this sound,’ and I think people feel like ‘oh I can do that, because it’s specific.’ Creativity shouldn’t feel intimidating,” says Gordon-Levitt.

Gordon-Levitt is like a beam of light, and while it’s true that he is famous due to his acting career, now you know that organic growth has nothing to do with any of that. It has a lot more to do with the character of a company’s leaders, because, trust me, you can’t buy real engagement and organic growth. You have to earn it, and Gordon-Levitt and his team at HitRecord deserve every user they have.

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