Stoic philosopher Ryan Holiday says that making the most ethical decisions as a startup entrepreneur can be difficult but worth it.
- In his most recent blog post, Holiday discusses his experience of transforming the launch of his book The Daily Stoic into a small business with seven employees and a successful online Shopify store.
- He discusses the various ways entrepreneurs have to operate a business in a complex interconnected world where small decisions have a big impact.
- When his ethical decisions are informed by climate change and war, he made the decision to buy products that produced less plastic waste or bought raw materials outside of Russian-allied countries like Belarus or China.
- Even if he could not change the world, he did not want to contribute to these issues and chose a more expensive and ethical path that was harder but left him with a cleaner conscious.
Why It’s Important
The global economy has become an intrinsically complex interconnected space where everyone’s actions have a small impact on everyone else. Because of this, it is easy to neglect one’s own responsibility and focus on decisions from the perspective of ease and profit.
However, Holiday argues that entrepreneurs have more power than they think and can make a difference by choosing to be part of solutions rather than contributing to larger problems. When expanding The Daily Stoic Store, Holiday repeatedly had to choose where to source his raw materials, how much plastic they were wrapped in, and whether the purchase implicitly supported the financial well-being of hostile nations like Russia and China.
It is easy when faced with the challenge of “ethics versus expenses” to make the convenient choice, but he made the uncomfortable decision to let the more expensive products come out of his pockets and the pockets of his customers by selling a more ethical product.
“The Stoic school of philosophy, the thinkers whose ideas are the foundation of my business, would say that talking about what you believe in is much less important than embodying that belief, filtering your basic daily actions and choices through your philosophy. We can despair at the enormity of the world’s problems, or we can get to work where we work,” says Holiday.
“Each of us has the power to contribute to a problem or to be part of the solution. The decision to reform oneself is not an isolated one. It may matter only a tiny bit in the big scheme of things, but it does matter. All the decisions we make as business owners matter. We have agency. We have a say.”