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Nicole Lintemuth - Running a Values-Based Business

 

Running a values-based business can often feel daunting and isolating. There are a lot of things to do, consider, and navigate. Especially in today’s social and political climate. But it’s also incredibly freeing. 

Today I’m talking with Nicole Lintemuth, owner and founder of Bettie’s Pages, an independent bookstore in Michigan, about her experience running a values-based business and how that shows up in everything she does. 

Ready? Let’s get started.

In this episode:

  • What defines a values-based business and why it’s so much more than what you’re posting on social media
  • What to do when you are forced to choose between two of your core values
  • The importance of creating community for yourself as a values-based business owner

Listen to the podcast here:

Running A Values-Based Business with Nicole Lintemuth

I’m very excited to have you here today and have this conversation. Because we’ve been meaning to do this for a long time and we just haven’t yet. I’m really looking forward to talking about running a values based business with you because I think you do this very well, despite all the challenges you face in doing so. 

But before we get into all of that, tell us who you are and what you do.

My name is Nicole Lintemuth. I am the owner and founder of Bettie’s Pages, which is an independent bookstore in Lowell, Michigan. We mostly have new and used books, but we also have gift items, stickers, cards, puzzles, things like that as well. 

I buy a lot of stuff from there. I love it. If you’ve listened to my podcast for any length of time, if you’ve ever heard me mention the friend who owns a bookstore, or the friend who patiently asked me questions until she slowly drew me over to the progressive side of life. This is that person. This is Nicole. She’s famous before she even got here.

I know we’ve been meaning to do this for such a long time. Since the first or second episode. I was like, she’s talking about me. I should totally be on this podcast.

It was a while ago but we figured it out eventually. 

I want to talk about when it comes to values-based business, which is very important to me, and to you as well, how did you decide what you wanted that to look like in your business?

The traditional business advice is don’t talk politics, don’t talk religion, don’t upset the customer. And I did that in the corporate world when I worked in banking. If I was gonna keep doing that, I should just stay in the corporate world and make a lot of money doing that. If I’m going to be my own boss, it’s a lot easier to just be myself. I don’t have to think about Ooh, should I say this? Should I not say that? What is this impact going to be because I get to genuinely be me all the time. I don’t have to equivocate. I don’t have to hide things. I don’t have to keep things low key. 

Because for me running my business based on my values, it’s really easy. I mean, it’s hard. But it’s really easy in the sense of, I just get to be me with integrity and have that thought process for any decision I make for the business. Any statements that I make, any partnerships that I do. 

So that was kind of like, if I’m going to do this, if I’m going to put all of my life into running my business, creating this thing from the ground up, I want to do it in a way that I get to genuinely be who I am. And that seems to be the easiest way for me to run a business.

I don't have to equivocate. I don't have to hide things. I don't have to keep things low key. Click To Tweet

I love that so much. 

Because it’s absolutely applicable to any business that you are running. If you are able to operate in integrity 100% of the time, which means that there is no instance in dealing with someone in which you have to equivocate on your own personal beliefs, your own personal thoughts and feelings, your own personal values and morals, then you’re able to run a business that does not feel like it is sucking the soul out of your body. 

I know that people who work for corporations and that’s a huge complaint that they have, especially if they have very strong values and morals. We get to make our own rules. Anybody who transitions out of corporate and into owning their own business, they get that advice, right? Don’t talk politics. 

I remember somebody when I first started my business that said, you should scrub all the politics for your personal profile on Facebook. And I was like, why? It would be blank except for cat videos and funny memes. There would be nothing there. So I didn’t do that and it’s nice because I think we’ve gotten to this point in society, a point that I like and enjoy where we get to decide where we spend our money. What causes we get to support by how we spend our money. And when we do that, we ultimately make a bigger impact. 

I don’t know if anybody’s ever seen the show The Good Place but they eventually get to the end of the show where they’re trying to figure out how to actually get people into the good place because they found out that it’s actually been a very long time since anybody actually got in there. And they found out that there are these layers of society where somebody would buy a flower, to do something nice for their grandma. And then they would find out that those flowers would be treated with pesticides, or they were flown in from another country on a jet that was contributing to global warming and that is taking points away from people. 

When you can support locally, in your case, or a small business in general or a business that matches your values, you get to support beyond what you believe in. Because you can support somebody who is doing things that you think are good in the world.

When you can support locally, in your case, or a small business in general or a business that matches your values, you get to support beyond what you believe in. Click To Tweet

They’re finding survey after survey that customers, millennials and younger, place a high premium on where am I shopping? If I’m going to take the time to shop small or work with a small business or work with a small company, do they align with my values? Am I using my dollars in a way that is going to align with my values? 

That is becoming more and more common as consumers get younger and younger. They’re becoming the larger segment of consumer population versus boomers and older who don’t really care and their focus is going to be on value or looking for the cheapest option or things like that. So there’s such a shift in the consumer base that’s reflecting that.

Most of my friends, especially in the online space, they’re like, do I care if this price is $10 more if that means that I am supporting a local business versus some sort of mass produced something coming out of a foreign country? 

People are willing to pay more. That’s why we’re also the generation that’s like, yeah, we’ll definitely pay more in taxes if it means we get all the stuff. Of course, we don’t mind paying more if it means that somebody is not going to die from pneumonia. Great. Sounds good. Sign me up. 

Exactly. 

So what are some of the challenges you face? Your challenges are unique because you are a brick and mortar business in a specific location, which is why I love the nuance of this conversation knowing that most of my listeners are not brick and mortar business owners. 

When you operate in the online space, you have the luxury of being able to work with anyone in the world. So finding people who match your values is not difficult, right? When you find someone you want to work with and if you find out their values don’t line up, you can go find someone else who lives in a different state, a different country, a different continent, The sky’s the limit. 

But when you operate a location dependent business, like a bookstore or something else, it’s different when it comes to running a values-based business. So what unique challenges have you run into while running your business?

So this requires context. Our bookstore is located in a very small town. We have about 4,000 people who live in our town and it’s in a very red, very farm country, very white area. Because of that, it makes it extra challenging because my values are inclusive, affirming diversity, Black Lives Matter, women’s rights are human rights, LGBTQ, everything, 

I’m a queer business owner. So all of those things are super important to me. 

Science is real. 

Yes, science is real. Reading is important. Education matters. Things like that are important to me and to my business. And I get a lot of pushback because we have a very loud, very anti- all of those things, segment of our population in our town. 

When I first opened, I never hid these things about me, but maybe I was a little bit less upfront about it. As an independent bookstore, we all generally tend to be fairly liberal. We’re very well read. We have diverse thoughts and things like that. And so it wasn’t hiding those things, but I wasn’t quite as obvious. 

And then, like most people in 2020, going through everything that year, it became even more important for me to publicly state that we’re a business that believes Black Lives Matter and we want to be inclusive and affirming. 

We have a sidewalk sign. It’s a little chalkboard sign that goes out on the sidewalk and since June of 2020, it has said in some way or another, sometimes snarkier than others, that Black Lives Matter. You can’t miss it as you’re driving through downtown. I’m right on Main Street. It’s out there. It has giant bold letters. 

That gave a very public, very easy to spot target for people in our community who don’t believe those things. And they’re not shy about letting me know that they won’t shop with me because of XYZ. And I’m not shy about saying I don’t care. You weren’t going to shop with me anyways, let’s be honest. You don’t read a lot. But they like to use me as a point of friction in our town to literally shout and scream at me.

And they're not shy about letting me know that they won't shop with me because of XYZ. And I'm not shy about saying I don't care. Click To Tweet

You are The Scarlet Letter.

Yeah, I am. Antifa headquarters, according to them.

Oh I didn’t know that. Congratulations!

Apparently we have a meeting. You’re in charge of snacks. So let’s make that happen. 

They started an actual conspiracy theory about me in town that I am using little free libraries to indoctrinate children because I control all the little free libraries. All of them. Yeah, I started this international nonprofit out of Wisconsin, so that I could infiltrate this small town in West Michigan to indoctrinate children. It’s hilarious that they’re so terrified of me and what I do that they’re willing to spread rumors and lies and spit on my sign and yell at me and threaten me online. 

It just kind of blows my mind that that’s the thing that they’re willing to do. But on the other hand, every time they do this, it just galvanizes my customers to be like, You matter. What you’re doing is important. 

My kids get to see this in our town. People coming through our town get to see somebody here cares about them. And it makes them more passionate and more likely to shop with me and support me. And also gives me a ton of online traction, as well. 

So even though I’m a small brick and mortar business in a small town, I get customers who come from hours away because they’ve seen me on Tik Tok or they’ve seen me on Facebook or Instagram and they approve of what I’m doing. And they’re like, I want to come support you. 

Every time somebody does something negative and terrible, it creates three or four customers who come shop with me just sheerly out of spite. And I love to spite money. Is my absolute favorite money. I love when people come to shop with me for that. It just delights me.

People coming through our town get to see somebody here cares about them. And it makes them more passionate and more likely to shop with me and support me. Click To Tweet

I love it. I spent quite a bit of spite money in quite a bit of places. Definitely with you, as well. 

I honestly think that it’s mind blowing that anyone, anywhere has the kind of time or energy to do what this small, yet loud group of people. It’s probably a group of a dozen to two dozen people who were just real loud and real shitty about it. And they have been for over a year.

I wish I had the time and energy for them. It’s wild. And it sucks because that very small vocal minority has turned off some people who are like, Oh, I was gonna go there, but maybe not. And that’s a shame because they’re not making their own opinion about my business based on what I carry, or my stories. They’re doing it based on rumors that they’ve heard. 

But I can’t really say that I missed them. And that fence sitter part of town who doesn’t hate me, they also doesn’t love me, but they’re like, I’m going to stay away because I don’t know. I think they all kind of hope that eventually I’ll just shut up. And then they can come shop with me because we don’t have any other bookstores in town. We don’t have any other place in town that sells the things that I sell.

Yeah, you have to go to the actual city, which is where I live.

People around here do not do that. Grand Rapids is 20 minutes away. It’s not a long trip, but to get people to go do that is not easy unless you’re already working there. People from here do not drive to Grand Rapids just for fun. 

So I think that they hope, maybe eventually, she’ll shut up and we can then go shop there. 

I have a bunch of kids who are huge fans of the store and brag and talk about the store all the time with their friends. So I’m sure these little kids are saying they want to come here and their parents are saying no.

You have quite a cult following among your elementary school age customers.

Nine year-olds are my target demo. They love me and I’m here for it.

I know that business is doing really well for you and you have a really solid loyal following of people who don’t just actually come into the store. You weathered COVID by moving a bunch of things online and you have quite a few people who order online, as well. 

But even though business is good, dealing with that kind of bullshit is mentally taxing, I can imagine.

I laugh about it a lot. And I like to joke about it and make fun of it. I do this with you all the time, where I’ll be like, Oh, my gosh, look at this latest thing, right? But it is draining. 

When you’re doing a business, that’s a values-based business, it’s easier because it’s just who you are. But it is also emotionally taxing because when people are attacking your business, they’re attacking you as a person, as well. 

It’s not corporate rules and I don’t have a choice and I have to do this for my job. No, this is who I am. For every shitty thing they say about my business or shitty thing they say about me, even though I don’t like these people and I don’t care what their opinion is of me, there are definitely days where I’m just like, why?

When you're doing a business, that's a values-based business, it's easier because it's just who you are. But it is also emotionally taxing because when people are attacking your business, they're attacking you as a person, as well. Click To Tweet

This is something that as the pandemic has dragged on, and all these things that are happening in the United States, in general right now, are adding up. We’re recording this when the Texas abortion ban has just recently gone into effect. 

I was just telling someone last night that it’s exhausting existing right now, as a person who cares deeply about things that are happening and creating change and making things better. It’s genuinely exhausting to be living during these times, even though I’m glad that I am because I am passionate about making change and making things better for people and leading with values in my business and everything that I do. 

You have to make sure that you’re creating space for yourself to talk about this with people and to get it off your chest and to deal with what comes up so that it doesn’t eat at you.

I recognize that I have a ton of privilege in being able to walk away from things and turn off the news and do things like that. But I also know my business is based off of me and I am genuinely who I am. I have a lot of responsibility to use my platform in a way that’s going to align with my values and move progress forward. Toxic positivity is trash and I don’t do that, but I do try and really focus on building up the things that are important to me. Focusing on the things that matter, and not focusing on the negatives as much. 

I want to build up what I care about through my business, social media, and even now more through my personal social media. I have to be conscious of how I am going to say what I’m going to say. I’m constantly “on”. 

So I have those few people who I can be safe with, that I can be who I am with and let my guard down and just cry and complain and be like, what the fuck is going on because when I’m facing the public, or when I’m even on my personal social media, people are looking at me to lead and to be an example and to do all of these things. And that pressure is big. My circle is small so I can’t imagine people who have gigantic platforms doing this, because the pressure I feel just with my small community is intense.

Yeah, you need a safe space for you to say all the ugly things.

Thank you for our besties group chat because that is my spot where I can be off the wall. I don’t have to filter anything, I can say what it is I’m feeling and thinking and know that that’s not going to go anywhere. It just stays there.

It’s 100% invaluable, for sure. It keeps me sane 90% of the time.

Anybody who has a values-based business absolutely needs that space. Whether it’s one person or a small group of people, you need to have that space where you can just let loose and shout at the world and be angry and be sad and do all of that. So that way you can keep moving forward with your business.

Whether it's one person or a small group of people, you need to have that space where you can just let loose and shout at the world and be angry and be sad and do all of that. Click To Tweet

It’s such an important thing to bring up because you have to have a support system. Anytime you run a values-based business, you are going to come up against people who hate what it is that you do, purely on principle. And because they have nothing better to do, dealing with that level of opinion and vitriol is exhausting. 

You have to have people there who you can lean on because it is a lot. I delete troll comments, especially on Instagram just because I don’t have the energy to engage with you on the platform, especially if you’re not making a good faith argument. I will have a good faith argument with you all day long if you are open to actually learning and listening to facts. Whenever you come at me with … “So what you’re saying is”, then I automatically know there’s nothing productive that will happen.

You’re talking to a brick wall.

Exactly, yeah. Or if you immediately come at me asking me for data and reports and whatever, I also know you’re not interested in anything. Because if you were, you would have taken the time it took you to tap out that message with your two social media thumbs and you would have done the research yourself and come back to me.  

Yep. 

So I delete a lot of comments. But I do occasionally get them from people who are commenting either on my politics, or my weight, which is lovely. Not even something that I talk about on my business platforms, it is something I tend to talk about on my personal social media. And I’m just like, What is wrong with you people? Do you have anything better to do in your life? Anything? Literally anything? 

You have to have a support system where you can go and just be like, this really sucks. This is hard. I don’t know what to do. I just need to rant and cry about this. And then you can ask for advice. Or you can ask for people to just commiserate with you for a second. And it’s such a valuable thing to have when you do this because there are moments where, as you said, it feels good to run a values-based business because you know that there’s no moment in which you have to decide, should I be doing this? Because you know that it is in alignment with everything that you think and believe. But it’s hard. When you come up against that resistance. It can feel very isolating if you don’t have a support system.

I took a risk by running a values-based business and being open about my stance and being public about my stance. I took a risk. It could have gone badly. I could have been out of business and lost every customer. For me, that risk was worth it. Because I know if I’m going to do this, I want it to be who I am. This is more important than staying in business. And it’s turned out well. The values base that I run off of and who I am has given me a really passionate following of customers. 

However, I always want to tell people that I understand if this is not a risk that you’re willing to take with your business. Because when you start a business and you own a business, this is your baby. This is your heart, this is your soul, this is your everything. I personally decided to run a values-based business because this makes the most sense for who I am as a person, and the business that I run and the way I want to run my business. It could have gone badly, it could have gone very, very badly. And I could be back working in the corporate world because of it. 

So I try not to judge too harshly businesses who choose not to or choose to stay neutral. But I think that the benefit of getting to be that place in our town for people who need it, of getting to run my business the way that I want to and say and do the things I want to do, was worth the risk for me. Especially in the world that we live in, and the values that you need to run a business. I think that that’s more important than being successful as a business. So take everything that I do with a word of caution because it could have gone terribly.

I think there are many ways of operating a values-based business. It is not all loud, in your face. I think it's just as important as what kind of causes you donate to. Click To Tweet

That’s the thing, though. I’ve talked about that before. I think there are also ways if you don’t want to be openly political, for whatever reason, I totally get that in some cases, that is literally not safe. Depending on where you live and who you are, and how you identify and how you present yourself to the world. it can literally be physically dangerous for you to do that. 

I think there are many ways of operating a values-based business. It is not all loud, in your face. I think it’s just as important as what kind of causes you donate to. Do you set aside money from your profit to donate to causes? Do you volunteer your time for causes? Do you have policies in place for your employees or your contractors to support your values as a business? 

I remember recently you were talking about hiring your first employee – congratulations – and you were talking about creating your employee handbook and how you kind of made up all the rules, however you want. Most clients that I work with, they are like, oh, I can pay them a good wage. 

Well, yes. You can offer them paid time off and sick leave. Yes you can. It’s so exciting because you get to make all those rules. I know a lot of business owners are really bucking the capitalistic norms of wringing as much profit as you can out of somebody’s labor. Because we’re fucking sick of it. We know that people work better when they’re appreciated, when they make money that isn’t a wage that makes them feel stuck and undervalued.  And we’re working that into how we run our businesses, which I think is great.

Having a values-based business doesn’t have to be all rainbow flags and Black Lives Matter. I mean, it’s nice. I like that. That’s how I run my business. When I set our policy, it was like, Okay, I’m paying $15 an hour to my help because that’s an important thing. For me, the living wage in our town is $13.44 but I’m a firm believer in a $15 an hour minimum wage. How can I not then pay my employee at least $15 an hour if I’m going to say that this is an important value to me? I need to run my business that way. 

And if I can’t afford to hire an employee at the wage that I think is important, then my business isn’t ready to hire an employee yet. It’s that simple. When I see small businesses who are complaining about how they can’t find staff and they can’t hire people…I didn’t even have to put an ad out. I literally had people coming to me to want to work for me. And I pulled from my pool of customers and my personal circle to hire. I turned people away on a daily basis who want to come and work for me because I brought a business based on my values of treating employees well. My dress code is one whole sentence. Make sure that your clothes are neat and clean in appearance. Your pronoun pin and name badge will be provided for you. That’s my whole dress code. Because I have worked in businesses where they had such ridiculous, arbitrary sexist dress codes that was bullshit. Just because I have boobs does not mean that how I dress is going to be any more or less inappropriate.

How can I not then pay my employee at least $15 an hour if I'm going to say that this is an important value to me? Click To Tweet

When I was teaching, the dress code was insane. It’s the worst. I have to make sure that when you bend over I’m covered. Which is ironic, because your clothes are also not supposed to be too tight and that’s the only way I’m not showing anything if I bend over is if my shirt is tight. But also that’s not allowed. So I don’t know what you want me to do.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Back to school is happening now and the students are in school and they can’t enforce a mass mandate, but they can still enforce a arbitrary dumb dress code policy. And so we were talking about this in one of our groups and one of the people commented, well they have to just deal with it because when they go work in the workforce, they’re gonna have dress codes there, too.

That’s not okay. That’s also a problem.

We are also mad about dumb dress codes at work, too. When I was writing mine, I had reached out for input from other indie bookstore owners because we have a really thriving Facebook community.I asked them, what do you do for your dress code? It ran the gamut from, we don’t really have one to we require them to wear store shirts. 

I wear everything to work from leggings and a tank top to frickin pinup style dresses. It depends on how I’m feeling in the morning, how I want to go to work and what we have to do that day. We move a lot of boxes around and if it’s a bunch of physical stuff that we do that day, I plan what I’m wearing based on what I’m doing. 

Am I getting six boxes worth of inventory today? Okay, I’m gonna wear something a little more comfortable. If I’m only helping customers, I’m gonna look a little cuter. And I trust that the people who I’m going to employ have the capability as adults to do the same thing that I can do. 

Does wearing short shorts hinder your ability to sell books? Probably not. If it does, you’ve got bigger problems. We’ve got other things we should talk about.

I would much rather my employees feel good about themselves and feel comfortable than meet some stupid, arbitrary code that has nothing to do with their abilities as an employee or as a business person. Or as a human. Anybody who works for me should at least have the common sense to know hey, I need to wear shoes and clothes that are going to work for what I’m doing today.

Exactly. That’s an important thing to remember. A values-based business shows up in many, many ways. And a lot of those ways I would probably say are internal. I recently dropped an episode about creating a company culture that I think is really important. It is how you show up, right? Your values show up in the ways that you show up for your employees, for yourself, for your clients, for your business. 

If you said you’re a very inclusive business and then you didn’t have very many inclusive books, that would be a gap. There are many, many ways in which this manifests and how you run your business. It is, as you said, not all pride flags and BLM signs. 

We talk about this a lot in the indie bookstore world, of how independent bookstores bring value to communities. Yes, you’re going to pay a little bit more than you would pay if you were shopping online somewhere. But what we bring to the community and intangibles and events and support of nonprofits. I frickin sponsored the cheer team. Is an online bookstore gonna sponsor your local cheer team? Probably not.

Yes, you're going to pay a little bit more than you would pay if you were shopping online somewhere. But what we bring to the community and intangibles and events and support of nonprofits. Click To Tweet

Amazon’s not doing that.

They’re definitely not going to donate a gift basket to your kids back to school night, they are definitely not going to host free events that you can show up to and meet cool authors and stuff like that. As independent bookstores, we talk about this a lot when we are looking for things we need for our businesses. If I need something printed for my business, or if I need to stock some supplies for my business, how can I turn around and then shop online or shop at big box store for those things when I’m telling customers, hey, come shop with this independent bookstore and spend a little bit more money, and then turn around and shop at Amazon for office supplies. I can’t do that. 

All of my print supplies are done by a one woman print shop in Holland. Most of my vendors are small, mostly women-owned, bipoc businesses, where I can find them, because those are values that are important to me when I am not only stocking my store, but also buying the things that I need for my business and running my business on the back end.

I think that’s a great example. Who are you paying to help you? And this is more for the online business owners, Who are you paying when you need help in your business? Are you seeking out diverse sources? Are you hiring coaches of color? Are you working with trans artists and graphic designers and website people? Where’s the diversity coming in?

How are you spending money in order to build your business or support your business? Are you being diverse in that way as well, which is another way that your values show up in your business. There’s so many ways for this to manifest. If the only way that your values are showing up in your business is by you talking about it on the internet, and then have all these shitty ass practices behind the scenes, you are not running a values-based business. You are virtue signaling and that’s gross. We don’t like that. 

You are virtue signaling and that's gross. We don't like that. Click To Tweet

Yep. 

If all you do is talk about how important inclusivity and equality and anti-racism education is and then you don’t put any of that shit into practice for your own business. because it’s too hard, it’s too expensive, it’s too scary, it’s whatever the fuck your reason is, you are not running a values-based business, I’m just here to break that news to you right now. You are virtue signaling. And that’s gross. And you shouldn’t do that.

In order to do this effectively and with integrity, you have to put your money where your mouth is and walk your talk as much as you are able. I realized that saying, don’t shop on Amazon is a very privileged thing to say. It can be a very classist thing to say. There are a lot of independent makers and sellers on Amazon and I recognize that but if you can do what you can do to minimize harm and minimize impact and support local business owners or small business owners then I think that that’s a good thing.

The whole Amazon thing is definitely something that I go back and forth on in my own head as a human being, especially as a soon-to-be published author.

The indie authors that I love, I can only purchase their books through Amazon. You know how much that hurts my heart? 

But for me, it’s weighing the options. Am I going to support this independent author who I absolutely love and adore? Do I have to do it through a horrible thing? Luckily, some of them are starting to have their own website, so I can order directly through them and get the file that way for their ebooks. I do that wherever I can, because then they’re gonna get a larger portion of the money. 

As an independent bookstore, Amazon, obviously, is the devil, and I hate them. Do I expect people to give them up 100% all of the time? No. All I ever ask people, when thinking about making a purchase of something, do you have the ability to get it somewhere else within the same reasonable price and time as you would on Amazon? If so, do that. If you can’t, then shop on Amazon. It’s fine. 

There’s no ethical consumption in capitalism, you cannot do everything perfectly. Just do the best you can and be aware of the choices that you are making. Sometimes you don’t have a choice. And that’s fine. I provide mass for my customers in my store. Because for me, people not dying of COVID is an important value. I don’t want my customers to die. So I require masks because we get a lot of kids in here who can’t get vaccinated yet. And I want this to be a safe place for people to be able to come and shop and bring their kids. That means I provide masks for people because my town is stupid and nobody wants to mask anymore. 

There's no ethical consumption in capitalism, you cannot do everything perfectly. Just do the best you can and be aware of the choices that you are making. Click To Tweet

They’re no longer required in the state. 

Yes. And they’re not required in our state anymore. And so to do that, I provide masks and I was like, where can I buy masks in bulk because I need a lot of them. I can’t just buy two at a time, because that’s just not efficient or cost effective. And it’s also bad for the environment. 

The only place that I can get them in bulk is on Amazon. So that’s where I get them. Because for me the benefit of my value of not letting people die of COVID is more important than the value of not shopping on Amazon. So that’s my dirty little secret. You’re welcome. I bought stuff on Amazon.

I think sometimes we get so caught up. Sometimes, for whatever reason, there’s a trade off. We’re surrounded by corporations and literally live in a capitalist hellscape. Even running our businesses is capitalism. 

Sometimes your values are going to run up against each other. It’s not black and white.

Sometimes your values are going to run up against each other. It’s not black and white. Click To Tweet

There’s so much gray. And I think a lot of people get hung up on it. And that’s when you get into all or nothing advice, which is not helpful. There’s nothing helpful about that advice because you just can’t. 

Sometimes there are trade offs. You just have to make sure that in that moment, when you’re faced with that choice, which is more important: protecting your customers from COVID or shopping on Amazon. And if the answer is protecting your customers from COVID, then you buy the thing that you need from the place that you can get it from. And you go about your day. That’s a decision I think you can ultimately feel good about.

When you run into those moments where value a is competing against value be, that’s where having friends and fellow businesses who also have your values comes in handy, because if I’m stuck, if I’m in a quandary of what to do, I’m the only adult in charge here. There’s nobody else making decisions for my business other than me. Sometimes that sucks. And so I have to turn to my friends and my husband and other businesses who have similar values to me and be like, this is what I’m up against, what’s your feedback? What would you do, and you take all of that advice, and you weigh it against your value system, and then you go with the best decision that you can make. And that’s how you can do it.

Yes, I think that’s especially important, too. Find people in your field, in your industry, who understand not just that you are running a values-based business, but also the unique sort of ups and downs and pitfalls and nuances of what you do. And cultivate a community with them. I have a biz besties group chat, because there are some things about online business that regular people do not understand. It’s weird. 

And we are in there all the time saying, this happened. What do I do? Or this happened and I don’t know if I’m overreacting or not. It is another one of my communities that I have where I can be really vulnerable with those people and say it in a way that is messy and still have them hold space for me and give good advice. We do that for each other. It’s invaluable. So make sure that if you are surviving this period in history, as a values-based business, make sure that you are creating community for yourself.

And no one community will cover all of your needs. I have my besties chat. Y’all understand my personal needs, you understand who I am, you understand my business enough that you can give general advice. You’ve learned a lot about the book business.

I have indeed. It’s been very helpful to me honestly, as an author, I like it. I’m constantly taking notes. Oh, that’s interesting. Tell me more about that. 

And I have my group chat of other business owners who understand the struggles of owning a small business in a small town, in this particular town. And they don’t really understand the book world and the book business, and they don’t know me as well as you do. So they don’t really understand my personal drive as well.

And then I have my independent bookstore people who are for bookstore questions. I don’t have the space or energy to explain all of the details of this to people who don’t understand the book business. And it doesn’t matter that I’m in this particular town or who I am as a person. I can go to that group for those questions. 

Cultivate those different areas who understand those different parts of you because depending on your question, you’re going to need specific help that not everybody’s going to be able to give you.

Yes, absolutely. That’s such good advice. 

Oh, my God, this conversation was so good. I’m so glad we were finally able to do this. So the moral of the story is friends, if you are running a values-based business, create community for yourself. Know that showing up for your values in your business is so much more than outwardly expressing them to people. Honestly, outwardly expressing your views to people should be the last thing on the list. It’s at the bottom. 

Honestly, outwardly expressing your views to people should be the last thing on the list. It's at the bottom. Click To Tweet

You have to show up. How you run your business, how you treat your people, how you treat your clients, how you hold your boundaries. All of those things are so much more important than what you post on social media. If you’re defaulting to only posting on social media, you’re not actually walking your talk and you need to sit down and decide, are you really running a values-based business and how you can show up better. 

Know that there are trade offs to the decisions and the choices that you have to make. Sometimes you have to support capitalism. Sometimes you have to support the corporations and the big box stores and Jeff Bezos’ dick rocket. Sometimes you just have to do it.

Sometimes the best decision is just the least worst option.

Yes. That’s a great way to say that. Absolutely. 

Thank you so much for being here with me today. I really enjoyed this. Glad we did. I’ll see you in the besties chat. Have a good day. 

You, too. Bye.

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About Nicole Lintemuth

Nicole is the owner and founder of Bettie’s Pages, an indie bookstore in Lowell, MI. Since opening in early 2020 she has been diligent in stocking diverse books and working hard to pull her community into the 21st century by organizing a Pride event, vocally supporting Black Lives Matter, and standing up for equality.

 

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