Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on UnsplashThe term “conscious” has taken hold in recent years in the context of business. The concept has been around for a long time, but until the last decade was always considered a bit of an oddity.

So what does it mean?

There are two primary usages of “conscious” in business. The first is quite individual-centered, so it’s strongest when an entrepreneur starts a heart-centered business. You’ll see a lot of this with nutritionists, massage therapists, coaches, spiritual healers, and so on. They usually started the company with a deep passion for what they do – what The E-Myth described as the technician role.

At the other end of the spectrum are companies which pursue a different way of thinking as the soul of the business. Some better-known examples might be Whole Foods, Toms Shoes, and New Belgium. The book Conscious Capitalism described their culture and goals as far exceeding the Triple Bottom Line thinking of the 1990s.

In the past, these companies were considered altruistic oddballs, always bucking the norms of how businesses were supposed to measure success solely on profit and stock price.

How things have changed!

Now, there are legal structures (such as Colorado’s Public Benefit Corporation), certifications (such as B-Corp), and organizations (such as Conscious Capitalism and Small Giants). There are even universities (including in Colorado) who incorporate this thinking into their business school curricula.

What’s emerging is a beautiful combination of these two extremes: Innovators who want to develop growing, market-leading, impactful companies based on a balance of head and heart. Studies are starting to show how these kind of businesses can be even more profitable than average.

Why? Because when you benefit the community, customers are often more loyal. When you treat employees like respected creators of value, they stick around.

Because we are in an age of unprecedented transparency and abundance. It turns out that people DO have hearts, after all, and are attracted towards those businesses who share the love.

Love? Yes. The last thing that a more traditional business would think makes a difference.

This article was first published in InnovatioNews.