When we think of conservatism, we are told that it means limiting government so that individuals can pursue their own economic interests. As far as philosophy goes, what we are being told is conservatism is actually classical liberalism, or what we nowadays call libertarianism.
Once upon a time, though, the 18th century English statesman and father of conservatism, Edmund Burke, argued that societies are organic and that individuals are the thread that make up the fragile interconnected social fabric. Burke advocated for a strong government (not small) that would restrain the materialistic appetites of individuals because he believed that a society based on greed, self interest and impulsivity is doomed to fail. Though Burke was for private property and free markets, he was for limiting business in favor of the greater good, unlike classical liberals such as Adam Smith.
If you're interested in learning more about real conservatism rather than the classical liberalism being pushed by pundits, then read the book, "Conservative Thinkers: From John Adams to Winston Churchill," by conservative scholar, Peter Viereck.