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One of the things I think we need to talk about is exploitation in business. Part of the social and civil unrest we face in life is directly related to the exploitation of people and resources.

People who are desperate will work in poor conditions for very little money. They will feel like they have to compete for the scraps they are being offered. This fuels Us Versus Them dynamics and civil unrest.

Countries that are desperate for money will allow their resources—people included—to be exploited. They won’t protect the environment, either, because their focus is on money, not conservation.

And, generally speaking, the people who are doing the exploiting are sitting like little dictators over their repressive regimes.

Take Amazon, for example. They pay meager wages, have questionable work practices, like tracking their employees when they are at work to ensure that no time is wasted—even frowning on bathroom breaks, causing employees to wear adult diapers on the job. As we know, Jeff Bezos is one of the wealthiest men on the planet.

I’m not pointing Jeff Bezos out for his wealth. I say BRAVO to people who earn tons of money doing what they love. What I am pointing out is the fact that he exploits his workers and oftentimes the communities they work in (little tax liabilities, low wages, etc.). He has the ability to pay his workers more, give them better benefits, maintain a healthy work environment, and even contribute more to society, but he doesn’t. Instead, it seems like his business is set up to funnel money to the top and increase inequality, fueling even more exploitation of the people who work for him and creating a negative impact on the communities where he builds his warehouses.

Don’t get me started about Walmart. OMG.

On the other hand, you have companies like Costco who are offering a livable wage and more benefits to their employees. Trader Joe’s is also considered to be a good employer, including perks like affordable medical benefits and a retirement plan, along with their ethically sourced products and attention to the social and environmental impact their company has.

You can check out sites like Business Insider and Glassdoor.com for more information about different companies and how they rank as employers.

Exploitation in the Spiritual Community

We face exploitation in the spiritual business community as well. People would like us to charge little to nothing for our time and energy, saying things like, “It’s a gift! You shouldn’t charge for your gifts!” or “This other reader charges less. I can get a reading from her.” OK, bye! Seriously. If you want me to work for you or do a reading for you, then pay my rate. Period.

Exploitation is happening within the spiritual community as well. There are far too many people who don’t want to pay a graphic artist the going rate for a well-designed logo or images to use within their business. There are people who don’t want to pay for background music for their meditations. There are people who want to hire a Virtual Assistant (VA), but who aren’t willing to pay even minimum wage for their services or account for the actual time it takes to do a specific project. There are people who are pirating tarot decks and/or buying decks from sites like Wish for a fraction of the cost, knowing (or not knowing) that they are purchasing a pirated deck that the artist isn’t getting paid for.

One of the things that fueled this blog post was a conversation I just had with another spiritual entrepreneur. She wanted to refer people to work with me, but she also wanted me to reduce my rates AND give her a 40% referral fee for client work she sent me. She wasn’t willing to budge off the 40% and I wasn’t willing to work for a discounted rate MINUS 40%. Thanks, but no thanks.

Even some of the psychic hotlines work in a predatory manner. I’ve seen companies pay out as little as 10-20% to readers. I understand that the companies do have to run the tech side of things, pay their internal employees, and also deal with refund requests (from people who are exploiting the psychic readers and the companies themselves), but still! 10-20% payouts are kind of ridiculous, IMHO. But if they can find people who are willing to work for that, then…

What can you do to ease or heal this trend of economic exploitation?

  1. Be honest with yourself. Really get connected with your values and your value. Try to make your purchasing and pricing decisions from a place of conscious consumption and price setting.
  2. Research the companies and people you work with. Make sure that the companies you spend your money with have values that you support. Look at their social, environmental, civil, and economic values and make sure they align with your own.
  3. Quit asking for deep discounts and freebies. If you don’t want people to ask you to reduce your rates, don’t ask others to do it. This goes for trades as well. You can find out more about what I have to say about this here: I don’t have any more energy for you
  4. Quit GIVING freebies and deep discounts. Or at least save freebies and discounts for your best clients; use them as gifts and thank yous! When you are giving your services away for free, you make that a standard. Giving deep discounts and freebies also hurts you and your business, because you are pandering to a crowd that doesn’t want to pay for your time, energy, and skillset.
  5. Learn to say no with tact and stick to your no. I have a great list of canned email responses you can use here: Email Responses

When you are setting up your spiritually based business, I know that you will have to learn to stand up for your value, along with your beliefs. Standing strong against being exploited can be difficult—especially when you truly want to help society change and heal the planet and people are always pestering you to back down—but standing firmly against exploitation can be one of the ways you help change your own life and society as well. Don’t let others take advantage of you and don’t take advantage of others.