By: Forbes Councils Member, Small Business
Retrieved from: Forbes, The Future Staple Of Business: Conscious Entrepreneurship
With an increased focus on global sustainability, we are seeing a rapid shift in how businesses operate. But I believe the future of business will take profitability, sustainability and serving others one step further from the familiar social entrepreneurial framework. The next step in the evolution of business is to build a business model that also meets the entrepreneur’s personal goals, passions and values — regardless of the industry and without compromising one or the other. New and emerging business curricula might call this entrepreneurial component “self-authorship.”
The business community’s first introduction to social entrepreneurship began with grassroots organizations back in the 1980s. The term “conscious capitalism” was coined by Whole Foods cofounder John Mackey and Raj Sisodia. It is a philosophy that encourages entrepreneurs to create sustainable businesses with purpose, meaning that businesses should operate ethically while they pursue profits.
Conscious capitalism focuses on four key principles:
1. Higher purpose
2. Stakeholder orientation
3. Conscious leadership
4. Conscious culture
Conscious entrepreneurship, however, bridges the gap between these four tenets and an entrepreneur’s core values, passions and ambitions, regardless of the industry they are in. Based on my observations, conscious entrepreneurs are a growing presence in the business world and are not just prevalent in sustainability-driven industries like organic food or green energy; they can exist almost anywhere — whether they’re running a coffee shop or an accounting firm.
As a sustainability consultant, I’ve seen organizations that focus on economic system transformation and empower businesses with actionable strategies to become more conscious. Some, for example, provide standards and guidance in industries including manufacturing, financial advising, health and wellness, consulting and digital media. Now, it’s easier than ever to embed conscious-driven principles into the fabric of business models across a diverse range of industries. And the best part is that aspiring entrepreneurs are likely to find one of their passions listed among them.
Conscious entrepreneurship ensures that social responsibility isn’t just an afterthought tacked onto the profit model and is instead purposefully ingrained into every aspect of the business during the development process. This includes how the entrepreneur thinks about their own personal goals and how they impact others for generations to come.
Another aspect of conscious entrepreneurship is that though conscious entrepreneurs understand their work has the power to change lives and provide personal fulfillment at the same time, they do so without sacrificing profitability. Giving back and personal fulfillment doesn’t outweigh profit in a conscious business because profit is what fuels impact. This approach diverges from the common misconception that socially conscious enterprises are willing to sacrifice profitability for social change. In fact, research continues to show that truly conscious businesses with an integrated approach to sustainability and social impact financially outperform their competitors due to a growing demand from stakeholders to be more socially responsible.
Arguably, conscious entrepreneurs have never been more important for the future of business and global sustainability. From my perspective, these leaders have a deeper understanding of how to create truly sustainable, fulfilling enterprises that positively influence society at large. Take that movement to scale and we may no longer have to solely rely on large organizations to implement corporate social responsibility initiatives because sole proprietors and small businesses alike will have the power to create long-lasting change for generations to come.