The Small Business Community & Conscious Living Culture: A world-changing way of doing business
"You are an integral part of the future that’s calling us all forward into conscious, planetary-minded stewardship."
Back a couple of decades ago, when the word green just meant a color some people looked good in, or a place to play golf, the idea of a culture based on conscious living was just a glimmer in a few forward-thinker’s eyes. Now, a serious groundswell consciousness movement is expanding exponentially due to facing a series of global predicaments and downright crises. People are stepping up, taking big actions through demonstrations, social media posts, education, and more, spreading information like wildfire. In smaller but equally important ways, many are making lifestyle changes to help mankind survive inhabiting this planet.
Although the conscious living culture consists overwhelmingly of younger generation advocates whose future depends on drastic changes, truth is, all ages desire to live consciously, whether they’re conscious of it or not. This changing world is calling for a new breed of conscious businesses, with shop owners paving the way for an aware society of shoppers. As an entrepreneur trying to make a difference in the world, you need to "be (even more of) the change you want to see in the world.” And do it now.
What Does Conscious Mean?
The word conscious is defined as aware of…, noticing, observing. Being conscious is a choice to get one’s head out of the sand, look around and see what’s going on. It’s about bringing awareness to every aspect of life — personally and professionally, inside and out. Looking at it spiritually, conscious means living in the now, being fully engaged and present, aware of the choices you make. It’s also about being aware of your thoughts and limiting beliefs, what you say yes or no to.
Conscious is not being on auto pilot no matter what you’re doing. It may seem like an oxymoron, since denial is such a cozy place to hide, but with consciousness comes joy by feeling the significance of each moment.
Conscious Shop Owner
To a shop owner, there are myriad of opportunities, big or small, to bring consciousness to every minute of your day. How completely conscious are you about customers milling about in your store? Flip the focus onto yourself – that’s what consciousness means.
Higher consciousness is also about holding the highest vision for what situations, whether in your shop or in your life, could be. It’s helping envision the world you want to live in. Beyond worrying about bills, budgets and constant looming retail challenges, most mind-body-spirit shop owners are highly committed to a more conscious, balanced, in-the-moment life. Their mission is consciously helping their fellow global citizens get there as well.
What is Conscious Living?
Lately, the term conscious living is being bantered around a lot, but, beyond the very passé tree-hugger stereotype, what does it really mean? For many, conscious living is defined as a type of “intentional community” – a like-minded individuals with comparable goals, ethics, and ways of seeing the world, supporting one another in some way. Many see this as respecting and emulating what indigenous cultures figured out thousands of years ago. For others, living consciously means accessing personal sources of inner wisdom, insight and intuition, allowing it to constantly guide them. Part of that could mean being conscious of the energetic, spiritual realms of the Universe. Most of all, conscious living is feeling inspired, passing that inspiration on to others in some way.
Getting More Conscious
Everything starts with consciousness. The more consciousness you bring to any aspect of life, the greater your sense of empowerment. Power to make positive changes or influence an outcome. Power to experience deeper levels of fulfillment and joy. Power to be more authentically expressive. Power to choose with full awareness.
People who live more conscious lives often experience greater well-being and contribute more to help uplift others. Levels of compassion often rise in direct proportion with increased consciousness. How could it not? Where there’s lack of consciousness, life is just a bunch of routine habits strung together and that certainly doesn’t serve anyone’s highest potential. However, with so much going on as an indie business owner, constant multi-tasking, to-do lists, trends to keep up with – it’s all too easy to slip into unconscious, rote functioning. Sadly, in this time of global transition, if your mind’s on automatic, you’re not consciously directing your life or your business.
A Conscious Business
As a shop owner, being conscious goes beyond just walking your talk, it embraces leading the way. Being a conscious business is not just some fad. It’s a way of life that’s escalates as more people “get woke.”
Conscious business means deciding to make a radical shift toward awareness of, and caring about, the impact that each choice makes. It’s feeling responsible for the small corner of the world inside your shop, as well as the outflow it brings to your community.
Bottom line: It’s doing the right thing for people and planet.
Becoming a Conscious Business
You have the opportunity to generate big influences simply by choosing to be a conscious business leader. These changes don’t have to be huge or happen all at once. They can be as subtle as the flapping of a butterfly wing.
Consciousness is a never ending, constantly evolving journey. It’s not like you wake up one day and decide to be conscious. Generally, it happens gradually, like discerning that certain things are trending as you walk a trade show, or suddenly noticing what more customers are requesting. If you’re ready to transition to or expand you already conscious business, here are some step-by-steps:
Get honest with yourself - What is the current state of your business? What needs to change? What is it you really want? What’s your true motive in wanting to be more conscious?
Expand Your Knowledge - Research specific actions to move you toward your desired outcome. This includes reading product information, talking to vendors, choosing focus items that can increase profits or sales but will still be conscious.
Redefine your marketing - Change up your website. Alter your Mission Statement. Brag on social media about your transformed intention.
Notice what’s working and what’s not - Fine tune areas that aren’t, expand areas that are.
Acknowledge yourself - You’re not caught up in habit and probably more conscious than you think!
Suggestions Supporting Conscious Retailing:
- Commit to sell all, or at least almost all, earth-friendly, natural, organic merchandise. It might take research, but people and planet are worth it.
- Offer bulk refills on such things as hand soap or potpourri to help cut down plastic use. Plus, these are guaranteed repeat sales.
- Discourage bag use. Sell or offer free-with-purchase tote bags from organic cotton or recycled plastic bottles. Print your store logo on them for great walking advertisements or have a paint party for customers to create their own.
- Provide positive, healing and transformational information. Offer classes, seminars, book signings, information sheets, links on your website, etc.
- Be philanthropically minded. Support causes you feel strongly about, both locally and globally. Offer creative ways for your customers to contribute.
- Have a feel-good, conscious environment in your shop. Awaken customers’ senses with aromatherapy, mellow music, calming atmosphere. Have knowledgeable staff and caring service to separate you from big box stores, bringing customers back for the experience.
- Make sure imported items are Certified Fair Trade. This means the makers and planet are put first by paying a fair living wage, empowering workers, and using earth-responsible materials. CFT is based on the simple idea that the products we buy and sell are connected to the livelihoods of others.
- Carry local vendors and artists. Customers want to know they’re supporting small, giving back to their community and reducing their carbon footprint with less shipping fuel expenditures.
- Insist vendors switch to sustainable, conscious products and production. With enough requests, eventually they’ll take the hint.
- Educate customers as to why you’re doing all of the above. Post information near products and make sure your employees have answers to help brag up your conscious choices.
- Be a mindful boss. Treat employees with respect and support, being the guiding light example as opposed to the whip snapping, never-to-question superior in charge.
It’s Easier Now
Even a few years ago, looking for products made in a conscious, sustainable way, was challenging to say the least. You could walk an entire gift show and see only a handful of eco-friendly or Fair Trade items. Vendors were often afraid to boast their conscious products, thinking it could dissuade buyers from risking carrying them. Taking a chance on carrying things that don’t fit the mold is always a concern for both vendors and shop owners. It’s dicey to be too out-of-the-box. Plus, there’s that ever-annoying price point issue, since conscious merchandise is often more expensive than its conventional counterpart. In the last few years, as the demand for planet-healthier items has become more in vogue, some of that has changed.
Nowadays, not only is it profitable for indie shops to be more conscious, it’s vitally important. As the younger generation is rapidly becoming the ones holding the purse-strings, they are demanding change. They question how items are made, and want to support causes they feel strongly about. They might even be downright confrontational, but for good reason: their future is at stake.
Are There Drawbacks?
Many who live consciously are choosing to relinquish the gathering of material possessions just for the sake of ownership or self-esteem, they’ve discovered that “things” don’t necessarily bring lasting happiness or fill a void. Some are choosing to live more “essentially,” tidying up and only keeping or acquiring items that “spark joy,” as Marie Kondo reminds. This could seem problematic for retail shops, but it doesn’t have to be. Truth is, conscious shoppers will always seek meaningful items, soulful things that touch them deeply, plus gifts for others with equivalent desires. There’s always a niche for products customers can’t find in chain stores: handcrafted, one-of-a-kind creations, natural health and healing support, as well as authentic, spiritually-minded items that aren’t mass produced. Keep those directions in mind when choosing inventory and you’ll be more than fine.
The Future is Calling
As a mind-body-spirit entrepreneur, undoubtedly you’re more conscious than the average human. Likely, there are aspects of your life where you’re extremely conscious. But, if these word are vibing, it just might be the time to awaken your business to its next level.