Balancing Profit and Purpose in Business Today

By Laura Hall

Whatever you call it, it’s still business – although we also believe that in the 21st century it is the role of business to be a force for good. However, let us not forget that the number one responsibility of a ‘responsible’ business is to return profits to shareholders. This simple fact is sometimes lost in the ‘purpose sector’ – thus the reason for the existing social enterprise spectrum. Some businesses are high on purpose and low on profit – other businesses are low on purpose and high on profit. What is needed are businesses that balance the two.

More and more businesses today are asking themselves what they can do to move their organization towards a more meaningful, purposeful business model – without losing out on the profitability requirement. We believe there are six tactics businesses can consider to begin to balance their business model between profit and purpose.

  1. Develop a higher sense of self-awareness. Understand the problems you are solving for in the world and who you are solving them for – and most importantly ‘Why’.
  2. Define your purpose. Understand your ‘why’ as much as you understand yourselves and your customer – and the measurable and positive impact they create.
  3. Have a belief system central to the day-to-day processes that influence the behavior, tactics and decision-making across your organization and ensures that ethical practices are the norm – not just some immeasurable ‘nice to have’.
  4. Embrace leadership that respects the past and inspires the future – and a leadership narrative that communicates strategic intent with purpose as much as it tells stories that inspire.
  5. Have a human identity with a relatable human voice and symbols that together build an eco-system that lives and breathes the business’s higher purpose.
  6. Be passionate about a meaningful customer and product experience that is intrinsically linked with the business’ purpose and identity.

The flood of information and unprecedented transparency is dramatically reshaping today’s business model. We are now in the Era of Behavior and the rules of the game have fundamentally changed. Now is the time for all good businesses to come to the aid of their customer and find their higher purpose.