Conscious Capitalism and the Small Business

Conscious CapitalismConscious Capitalism is a movement that believes that business is ethical because it creates value. In the tradition of Adam Smith, the first social economist, it believes business is noble because it improves our experience. And, it is heroic because it creates the prosperity that lifts people out of poverty. The Conscious Capitalism Credo asserts:

Free-enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to
something even greater.

Google, UPS, Panera, Starbucks, Whole Foods, and an increasing number of corporations have embraced Conscious Capitalism as a strategic attempt to “. . . aspire to something even greater.”

Can You Simplify This?

Conscious Capitalism promotes the social aims of employees, vendors, and communities. These community interests sit somewhere beyond mere profit. This communal interest develops a sense of purpose that separates us all from our lesser sorts. In this culture of heightened consciousness, employees, customers, and others gain trust in and loyalty to companies with an inspiring purpose.

When common purpose changes behavior and values, it defines the business culture. So, behavior, symbols, vocabulary, and rituals that embody values, principles, and practices identify what the business knows as its culture. It ties people together and their interests to the company’s purpose, customers, and processes.

And, This Works in Small Business?

The current literature deals with large to mega corporations. Obviously, they are positioned to have the most visible impact. Small businesses, however, can also create a culture that drives the business when it embraces this structural model.

One complaint of small business employees is that the owner-entrepreneur is obsessed and driven by an objective that does not include them and that has no reality for them, as far as they can see. They feel sacrificed to the owner’s own ambition and self-interest.

The owner-entrepreneur becomes an owner-leader when s/he commits to create value in a world larger than his/her own. Owners are urged to develop a mindset and strategy well before they go into business. The strategy would build-in business policies and processes that promote social values, such as sustainability, transparency, and fair trade.

  • Institutionalize sustainability - no matter the business’s size - by implementing policies as simple as office recycling, support for local sustainability initiatives, and participation in larger public campaigns.
  • Exploit transparency. Publish and share financial, performance, and customer service data. Share the information with investors and partners, vendors and customers, employees and managers. Make it an expectation as you grow.
  • Make fair-trade decisions that mimic the ethical profile of large companies in product-based businesses. In service-based businesses, you can integrate fair-trade by selective purchasing, value pricing, and respecting the competition. Mentoring, too, is a way of sharing your practices for other start-ups.

Your small business – no employees or few employees – can commit to allocate a percentage of quarterly revenue to some local social solution. You can allocate an hour of your time and each employee’s time to volunteerism. You can make charitable donations, support food pantries, or distribute prepaid credit cards to the needy. However, what you need to do is to budget the culture into time and performance before you get into business.