What Is A Holistic Business?

The three key characteristics of holistic business form the building blocks of running a small business that's actually sustainable for you AND your community.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

What does having a holistic business actually mean? And how do you know if you have one?

Here’s a hint: it’s not about what you sell. It’s about how you operate your business. Of course, if you’re an herbalist, or a tarot reader, or a spiritual medium, what you do is part of running a holistic business. But holistic business isn’t just about selling a certain product or aesthetic. It’s about the underlying philosophy anchoring your day-to-day business practices.

Let’s break this down with some examples. Holistic businesses have a few key characteristics in common.

Holistic Business is Contextual

Understanding context is key to running a holistic business.

Taking context into account means holistic businesses exist in relationship to ourselves, our communities, and the world around us, rather than operating on a winner-takes-all paradigm.

Here’s an example. Small business owners who care deeply about making a positive impact in the world often want to make donations to causes they support. And that’s an incredible thing, if you have the capacity to do it! But what if you bend over backwards to make donations to larger causes—and then pay your contractors minimum wage?

Think about it. What could you do for one person if you were able to use your resources to pay them an income that helped support their thriving and flourishing, rather than bare bones survival?

Thinking holistically about this situation means understanding that your capacity for positive influence as a small business owner is far more impactful on a single contractor than on a huge global scale for a global cause.

By first focusing on the circles where you actually have the most agency—yourself and your employees or direct community—you can have an effective and powerful impact on people’s lives, without stretching yourself beyond capacity.

Holistic Business is Interrogative

A holistic business will need to constantly reassess based on new information, new realizations, and the ever-changing world. Questions are at the heart of capacity to change, and a truly holistic business is always changing.

In order to find balance as a holistic business owner, you need a seeker’s mind: a willingness to be constantly learning to update beliefs and assumptions, and the ability to be wrong and do something about it.

Think back to context: holistic business does not exist in a vacuum. It is in relationship with the world around it. This means that a holistic business learns from what has happened in the past, what’s happening in the present, and what will happen in the future.

The key here? Be responsive to what’s going on around you, rather than bulldozing through context in order to achieve single-minded goals. Questioning, learning, and adapting are crucial elements of building a holistic business.

Holistic Business is Sustainable

Sustainability, in the context of holistic business, is the business’s ability to be an ongoing, long-term, and supportive entity throughout the duration of its existence.

Conventional business logic often focuses on quick profit and rapid growth. But holistic business doesn’t just succeed in the moment. The important thing here is longevity: the business actually surviving long-term to be able to support you and those you serve.

Another way to cultivate sustainability is by shifting what goals you’re working toward. What becomes possible to celebrate when you radically reimagine your success metrics?

A holistic business does not thrive on money alone. That means profit is not the only important metric in a holistic business. Neither are sales, nor new customers.

Of course, these numbers are important. But what do your personal success metrics look like?

For example, do you want to be able to take time off? What about reducing the number of days that you’re sick or have chronic health flare-ups? How about being able to provide healthcare for your team?

You get to decide what success means to you.

What’s Next

If you want to dive deeper into the characteristics of holistic business and why they’re the key to building a business that supports both you AND your community, listen to our podcast episode here.

Are you ready to take the next step in building your holistic business and get expert training, workshops, and community support with like-minded peers? Join the Holistic Business Academy Membership waitlist here.

Found this useful? You can get the best of our renowned blog and podcast direct to your inbox for free. Just sign-up for our mailing list below, and we’ll share the top holistic business strategies, insights, and trends with you every week.