My article about Conscious Entrepreneurship sparked a ton of interest as well as a recurring question from readers:

What is a Conscious Entrepreneur?

This question originates from the mistaken belief that only outwardly altruistic brands can be conscious companies. We associate this type of entrepreneurship with brands like Ben & Jerry’s or TOMS Shoes. Or, we assume that a business needs to be a non-profit in order to make a meaningful difference in the world.

That is simply not true.

Conscious entrepreneurs are everywhere, and for the vast majority of them it isn’t obvious at first glance. 

Consciousness is an inner game; it’s the heart and soul of the entrepreneur. What truly defines a conscious entrepreneur are the values with which they lead their business, as well as the genesis of their business pursuits.

Let me provide contrast:

Some entrepreneurs start a business thinking only about making money. “I can make money doing this,” or “This idea will make me rich.”

For example, when I started my first company in 2002, it was just after September 11th and I had been profoundly impacted by that event. Exhausted by corporate politics, I wanted to start a small consulting company to make money in my field of expertise – sales & marketing. I never thought to ask myself if I actually enjoyed the work, or if the work mattered. I only considered entrepreneurship as a way of making money. 

Although there is nothing inherently wrong with starting a business just to make money, it rarely provides meaning and tends to stoke our ego rather than our soul.

Conversely, conscious brands start much differently. The genesis of a conscious business is usually based on the founder’s passion (I love doing this) as well as their strengths (I am good at that). They simply want to make money doing what they love, and leverage their strengths along the way. Because they love what they do, they are willing to accept the risk that entrepreneurship brings.

Purpose is the reason WHY we love what we do.

Succeed On Purpose Terri Maxwell Quote

During the process of starting a conscious venture, entrepreneurs feel a connection to a deeper part of themselves, and their decisions become more mindful, or more conscious. They care deeply about their employees and customers. As they make money, they want to give back to their community in meaningful ways.

Today, I have several consulting companies in our portfolio (IGNITE On PurposePromote On PurposeTalent On Purpose), yet unlike my first venture, I love the work, care deeply about each team member, and feel as if I was born to serve our clients.

When I started, I didn’t realize I was starting a conscious company – all I knew is that I wanted to do what I love and make a difference.

Purposeful start-ups may not look “outwardly” conscious. For example, one of my all-time favorite clients is a BBQ restaurant franchise group in San Antonio, Texas. From the moment we met the owners, there was a connection to their vision.

Recently, we were filming a video at the restaurant and were fortunate enough to observe the team in action. We noticed the interaction the owners had with each employee, calling them by name, asking about their family. We saw posters in the restaurant featuring several community activities they supported, and watched staff members greet every customer with a smile. You could feel the difference.

While at the restaurant, I was treated to a personal tour. The business partners explained how they smoked the brisket, ribs and chicken. Their faces lit up as they explained the special techniques used in curating a perfectly smoked piece of meat. 

It was clear that they LOVE to smoke BBQ. They LOVE to serve customers. And their employees and customers can tell it’s personal.

When these entrepreneurs invested in their first franchise, they wanted to make money, of course. But it was more about doing work they were passionate about, in this case smoking BBQ. As a result of this alignment to passion, it seems completely natural that they genuinely get to know their employees, welcome each customer that enters, and give back to their community. They are a conscious business, but from the outside looking in, they appear to be just a BBQ restaurant. 

This was a watershed moment for me. An insight I couldn’t escape. 

Truly conscious entrepreneurs don’t need to post their values on the wall. They live those values day in and day out. And those values originate, not from some corporate planning retreat, but from the moment they decided to follow their passion to start the business venture. The values originate from who they are, at their core.

So, are you a conscious entrepreneur? It’s not about the name of your company, what products or services you offer, or words you use on your website. 

Conscious entrepreneurs simply start a business with a purposeful idea: I love to do (insert your passion) and I want to make money doing it, while making the world just a little bit better.  

I am curating a group of conscious entrepreneurial leaders to be a driving force in this movement. Let me know if you want to be a part of creating lasting business change. Reach out and let’s chat.