4 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Practice 'Conscious Capitalism'

Small companies are creating long-term value while driving in the conscious capitalism movement forward.

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By Tina Young

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Are you a conscious capitalist? I'm sure you don't think you're unconsciously moving through your days, but considering the pace of business lately, there are likely some weeks or even months that can be a blur of activity without true focus. Yet, we can all agree that a focused plan, with a motivated team and smart execution, will drive growth. But with so many moving parts to a business, how do you know which levers to pull? And why do some companies seem to have the "secret sauce" figured out with an engaged workforce and thriving business?

Notable companies like Southwest Airlines, Interstate Batteries, The Container Store and Costco have found a winning approach by embracing Conscious Capitalism, a business movement that's proving to be inspiring as well as profitable. (Full disclosure: I'm a co-founder and board member of the Dallas chapter.)

Because of its focus on four key tenets -- higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious leadership and conscious culture -- that are netting significant business results for companies, the movement has developed a national following that is agnostic to company size or business model.

Some mistakenly think it's about "doing good" by way of philanthropy or sustainable practices, but it has proven to be a better way to make money and create long-term value in a company. And, it's not just for big companies. In fact, it's ideally suited for entrepreneurs who are motivated to drive change and who are unconventional by nature. Companies like Satori Capital and Slalom, led by entrepreneurs, are already seeing big results.

Need proof on the capitalism side of the equation? It turns out, conscious companies outperform the market by 10.5 times. After I began implementing the principles into my company, Marketwave, our profits increased from eight to 18 percent, and we saw employee retention increase by 30 percent over the last two years.

Here's the thing: Overhauling your company's current structure can be intimidating. Smaller companies, though, can make huge strides in a shorter amount of time. Bigger ships are harder to turn, and there can be more internal inertia to stick with the status quo.

The good news? Entrepreneurs can be a driving force in the conscious capitalism movement, and there's no single path as to which tenet you need to work on first. One thing to keep in mind: It's difficult to implement all four tenets at once, so choose the most logical starting point for your company.

Below are four tips to help you get started:

1. Explore your higher purpose.

Spend some time on the national Conscious Capitalism website, where you'll uncover videos and best practices to guide you in creating your company's higher purpose. This is the tenet I started with, and at first, it was overwhelming.

Give yourself time to wrap your mind around it, then leave the office and prepare to do some blue sky thinking about your company's reason for being. Why did you start the business? What motivates you each morning? What do you give your customers that goes beyond products or services? What impact do you make on people's lives?

Related: The 4 Principles of 'Conscious Capitalism'

2. Validate your values.

Start by having a values discussion with your team members surrounding what the company holds dear and won't compromise. Once everyone has a say, narrow the list down to the top five to seven values that everyone can agree on.

Want to take it a step further? Consider polling your key customers and suppliers on what they think your values are, since they have firsthand experience in working with you and your team. Clearly defined values will be the driving force behind a conscious culture.

Related: Stand for Something: How to Establish Authentic Core Values

3. Take stock of your servant leadership.

Think about how you could be empowering your employees more and inspiring greater accountability on your team -- two key ingredients of conscious leadership. Once employees know you have their back, they'll pass that sentiment along to other team members instead of having the mentality of "every man for himself."

Related: The 5 Biggest Challenges Our Startup Culture Must Overcome

4. Support your stakeholders.

Having great relationships and working closely with your company's stakeholders creates a competitive advantage. When you take extra effort to give your suppliers more opportunities to deliver for your business, they are more loyal and more willing to go the extra mile for you and your customers.

One example -- We often provide pro bono services to our partners to strengthen the relationship and help them grow. Consider seeking out ways to create win-win situations for your stakeholders.

No matter how or where you start, success as a conscious capitalist company won't happen overnight. The results, though, are well worth the journey.

Tina Young

President and CEO of Marketwave

Tina Young is CEO and founder of Dallas-based integrated marketing agency, Marketwave, and a founding member of the Dallas chapter of Conscious Capitalism She runs the business with her husband Mike, a growth and strategy expert with decades of experience in corporate America.

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