Entrepreneurship as a spiritual journey
I am an entrepreneur. I have also worked with hundreds of other entrepreneurs at this point in my career.
I would group the entrepreneurs I have met into two boxes: Dark Age Entrepreneurs, and Spiritual Entrepreneurs.
Dark Age Entrepreneurs are oftentimes highly financially successful, but I would describe these people as fundamentally destructive, and their projects as also destructive.
In a word, Dark Age Entrepreneurs base their business models on parasitism: looking for ways to generate wealth through the exploitation of others, or the destruction of others.
Sometimes this is framed in Newspeak, propagandistic ways. We are selling personal data, maybe without your permission, because we believe in connecting people. We are providing you a cheap ride, subsidized by our investors, and maybe breaking laws in the process, because we believe in convenience. We are are providing you cheap products in the mail, exploiting the labor of thousands of people and not providing them any benefits, because we believe value consumerism.
You get the picture.
In contrast, Spiritual Entrepreneurs believe in symbiosis: creating companies and enterprises that are beneficial to all people who are affiliated with the business, and structuring economic relationships that are win-win (including to the business itself).
Dark Age Entrepreneurship has the following characteristics:
Success defined only in terms of a high monetary rewards, a goal that is pursued relentlessly and at all costs
No concern given to the social, cultural, environmental or other costs of the business, which are foisted on the poor or the voiceless
Exploitation of other people’s labor; destruction of social networks or other safety nets to turn a profit
In contrast, Spiritual Entrepreneurship involves the following:
Using business as a vehicle towards improving the world
Defining success in multi-dimensional terms -- not just in terms of monetary rewards, but also in terms of social impact, people helped, and problems solved
Undertaking a potential business or providing a certain service because it aligns with core and fundamental persona and/or spiritual values
Making sure that all people connect to the business -- vendors, employees, contractors, advisors -- benefit from the enterprise
I am proud to consider myself a spiritual entrepreneur. And my own business journey has refined my spiritual sense to a powerful degree.
If you are looking to change the world, don’t be turned off by the showmanship, bravado, toxic masculinity and sometimes outright fraud that you read about in the papers when it comes to Dark Age Entrepreneurs. Yes, those people are out there, and they are terrible. And we all could identify the famous ones if we wanted to.
But there is another way.
You can absolutely change the world by creating enterprises that are lucrative, but also positive and uplifting. You can create and restructure economic relationships to lift all boats. You can create a company or companies that provide several types of value: financial value, but also social value, environmental value, and spiritual value.
The leaders of the future will be spiritual entrepreneurs. They will be masters of the intersection between purpose and profit, having combined a genuine sense of ethics and morality with good business practice. This is highest form of entrepreneurship.