Why your business should be more about purpose than profits

Why your business should be more about purpose than profits

Oprah sure is making the most of 2019. She’s already released a new book, is producing her own TV series (with no other than Prince Harry), delivered key-note speeches at world summits and celebrated 5 million downloads of her podcast. And whatsmore, it’s only May.

Here I am with only one sock on, toast crumbs on my lap, trying my hardest to get the remaining dregs of coffee from the sides of my cup with my index finger. 2020, I swear to god, you’re going to be my year.

When you google “Oprah”, you need not type in “Winfrey”. This powerhouse is the world’s richest female African American, worth a staggering $4 billion. But I’m not impressed by how much she’s worth (although, she’s certainly got a few more digits than I do), I’m more impressed by how much she’s given away. As one of the greatest philanthropists of our times, she’s apparently given away more than $51,000,000 to charitable causes. What. A. Woman.

She most famously said, “The reason I’ve been able to be so financially successful is my focus has never, ever for one minute been money.” And I don’t doubt this for one second. Oprah has proved that no amount of money or no luxury item (not even her custom made body contoured marble bath) can trump the feeling of making a real difference in the world. What I love about Oprah is that she is a walking, talking example that purpose and profit are not mutually exclusive.

We’re living in an interesting time. A time where the big corporations are quickly clutching on straws to ‘find’ their purpose. It makes me wonder though, what’s the cause of this shift? Is it just one big ploy to generate more profits? Perhaps, an ethical guilt trip? Or is it because our society is finally starting to give a damn about the world in which we live? Whatever the motivation may be, no-one can deny it’s a step in the right direction. I believe that true entrepreneurs choose significance over security any day of the week. Starting and surviving in today’s economy is hard, but the brands that figure it out have something in common: the pursuit of purpose, alongside the pursuit of profit.

Simon Sinek talks about “finding your why” and it is a transformative idea, especially when your why, or purpose, aligns with a market or social need. Good ol’ Simon and I have a lot in common. We both speak really fast, have extremely expressive hand gestures, very cute (read: pathetic) attempts at making jokes and get super sweaty when public speaking. We also believe that finding your why (and purpose) is simply the only way to do business.

I believe that great companies aren’t great because they make lots of money. They make lots of money precisely because they’re great. The thing is, I believe purpose leads to profit anyway. Doing business with a sense of purpose, doesn’t just get you out of bed in the morning, it is good for your bottomline. In this day and age, if your business is lacking a reason for being, other than turning a profit, it will end up like most of our great-grandparents – either in the ground or on the mantelpiece.

Still not convinced? Here are my top reasons why your business should be more about purpose than profits:


  1. Getting out of bed on the hard days will be made all the more easier.

Chasing profits may be thrilling for a hot second, but it isn’t exactly life-altering, part-the-clouds inspiring. If I had a million dollars, I’d bet it on the fact that no business owner wakes up every day with a pep in their step ready to tackle the day with a razzle, dazzle and positive outlook – hell no, some days are Tough (with a capital T). But, if you’re not doing what you love, it’s made all the more Tough-er. When you’re not working from a place of passion, there’s a good chance the relentlessness and tough times will eventually wear you down enough that you throw the towel in, pack all your bags and move into a small run down shack somewhere in Puerto Rico fostering street dogs and busking for food. Finding your why is empowering AF! It fuels that fire in your belly, allowing you to grow your impact and influence the world around you in ways that nothing else can.

  1. You’ll have a more resonate audience who connect with you, your brand and in turn, trust you.

There has been an evident shift recently which has seen more businesses putting social good before their balance sheets. Customers no longer want to just know what you do, they want to know why you do what you do. By sharing your story, your goals and your passion, you allow your customers to come along for the ride with you. The more open and authentic you are, the more trust you build with your customers and in turn, you build a whole lot of loyalty. And if you haven’t yet heard, loyalty is the bedrock of bueno business, baby!

  1. Your brand’s purpose will differentiate you from competitors.

Purpose is your organisation’s distinctive and inspiring reason for being, combining your morals with your brand to create ethical impact will set you apart tenfold. Brands like Patagonia, TOMs and Lush are changing the game. Putting their purpose over profits every step of the way is giving their customers a reason to love them, talk about them and most importantly, buy from them. Defining your purpose is appealing in a way that makes people want to be a part of it – hook, line and sinker.

  1. You will attract and retain epic, aligned staff for your cause.

A well-defined, well-intentioned purpose will promote unity amongst your team in ways that profits never will. Your ‘why’ is the unseen-yet-omnipresent element that drives an organisation from the inside. A clear purpose will attract a bunch of like-minded people to chase after your purpose with even more grit and gusto than you could ever envision. When everyone’s values are aligned you build a better company culture which contributes to a much better work environment and subsequently, a booming business.

  1. A strong purpose can shape the world in which we live.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman argued that “there is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.” Luckily this guy is either in the ground or on the family mantelpiece along with many businesses who agreed with him.

On the contrary, just look at Thankyou; with a single bottle of water they were determined to help end the World Water Crisis. And in just 10 years, the Thankyou brand managed to smash their targets. Now having an abundance of products, from hand wash to baby wipes and even launching a book. Running on a 100% giving back model, this social enterprise has been able to raise over 6 million dollars, providing water access, sanitation and basic hygiene facilities to people in need.

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