It’s easy for young entrepreneurs to see monetization and profit as the main drivers for a startup, rather than focusing on developing products and services that solve problems. But humanity faces a wide range of challenges today, from climate change to social disharmony, meaning that purpose-driven solutions appeal to an ever-growing range of consumers.
The Internet Age has given all of us an expanding awareness of the effect our actions have (or can have) on the world around us. This isn’t to say that social consciousness, purpose-first businesses or companies with positive externalities are a new concept. Purpose-first businesses have existed in one form or another for centuries, but the internet has brought about an era of increased awareness and acceptance of the Butterfly Effect, driving more entrepreneurs to a purpose than ever before.
Thanks to the ability to instantaneously share information, millions of people can quickly learn about issues and solutions, from racism in the justice system to the positive impact of recycling. Increased awareness means that we can all adjust our behavior or mentality accordingly. In the realm of business, this has led many entrepreneurs to adopt a concept known as “conscious capitalism.”
What Is Conscious Capitalism?
Conscious capitalism combines the potential of free enterprise capitalism with principles that promote cooperation, large-scale progress and mutually beneficial outcomes. In many ways, conscious capitalism is just profit-driven capitalism with a heightened sense of awareness and vision. For me, it is the only sustainable way to run a business. It’s not just some pipedream that young people would like to see in the world. It’s a functional way of thinking that can simultaneously improve the lives of millions and enhance returns for the long term.
Thus, conscious capitalism offers a way of thinking about business as a voluntary exchange that can make the world a better place. These concepts may sound like wishful thinking, but I can tell you from personal experience that conscious capitalism is not only possible, it’s effective.
How To Adopt Conscious Capitalism As An Entrepreneur
In each of my business ventures, I’ve maintained a vision that was sustained by the potential good it could bring to myself and others. While profit is always a driving force in business, it shouldn’t be the only factor; it shouldn’t even be the primary factor. Instead, a business must be built on the principle that it gives back more than it takes.
According to John Mackey and Raj Sisodia, the minds behind conscious capitalism, a conscious business should adhere to a three-pronged mission: people, planet and profits. So, what can your business do to help people in general? What can it do to help the planet? Finally, what can it do to increase profits for you and your stakeholders? With conscious capitalism, you can create a business that is driven by ethics.
While asking these questions can help orient your business in a more value-driven direction, you will have to take additional steps to get the most out of conscious capitalism. You must make sure the mission of your business is one that has a “higher purpose” and then develop products that directly address those needs, even if that means shifting a paradigm or two.
Moreover, conscious businesses must adopt a “we” mentality that considers the needs and desires of everyone involved, from investors and employees to vendors and customers. To do this successfully, conscious businesses should establish company cultures built on mutual respect, shared benefits, cooperation and dedication to a central purpose.
Conscious Capitalism In Practice
Every entrepreneur has to embrace capitalism to one degree or another: it’s the framework within which all business is done. As with any broad system, capitalism allows morally dubious individuals to succeed, but also offers opportunities for motivated people to do good on grander scales. This is why I’ve gone into every business endeavor with a conscious capitalist mentality.
As an example, my digital publication, The Doe, differentiates itself from competitors by focusing our products on how the user connects with the media. Some media producers promote content in order to project their own stances and values onto the consumers while gathering as much data as possible. The Doe presents a new way of living, one where our users challenge their own values and develop positive social skills so that civil discourse becomes a norm again, online and beyond.
So much of the debate about negative discourse online is oriented toward moderating media, censoring publications or policing platforms. But The Doe used conscious capitalism to instead empower users to improve their discourse and control the safety of discursive spaces by promoting education, awareness and empathy.
Why Entrepreneurs Should Embrace Conscious Capitalism
There are obvious moral reasons to adopt conscious capitalism, but you may not be sold on the business benefits. At times, I’ve struggled to get people on board with my own ideas. When I created a company to help rebuild civil discourse, many people doubted that we could compete with some of the larger media outlets. Fortunately, I assembled a team of like-minded people who helped get the idea off the ground and built a solid readership and business model along the way.
While conscious capitalism looks a little different for every business, there are a few benefits that universally apply:
• Increased devotion from stakeholders, including staff, investors and clients
• Stronger long-term branding
• Higher profit potential
However, all of these benefits pale in comparison to the greater sense of purpose and direction you will feel as a business owner. I can tell you that, without adopting a conscious capitalist mentality, I wouldn’t have the same kind of drive and dedication that I feel to improve my businesses each and every day. Why? Because when you know that you’re bringing something good into the world, you’re much more inclined to give 110% of yourself to the cause.
Originally published on Forbes.