A guide to balancing profit and purpose

With all the social movements that have dominated our news feeds in recent times, the drive to affect positive change in our world has never been heard louder. Beyond taking to the streets and social media feeds, an increasing number of Australians are making themselves heard by carefully choosing where to spend their hard earned dollars. 

A recent study by CouriersPlease found that nine in 10 Aussie shoppers are more likely to purchase ethical and sustainable products. With this new mindset dominating the spending habits of consumers in Australia, businesses must master the fine balance between purpose, profit and people to sustain their operations, and ultimately, thrive.

Small businesses can make a big impact

Brands with a clear purpose and vision to drive positive impact for people and the planet are becoming increasingly sought after by consumers: Who Gives A Crap and Bank Australia are just two examples. This has placed firm pressure on larger businesses to reevaluate their position and product offerings around sustainably and an ethical supply chain. We are seeing increasing instances of public figures and companies being called out and facing real consequences for not adopting practices that align with consumers’ expectations around social responsibility. 

Whilst SMEs might not have the same exposure as these big multinational companies, they do have the agility and flexibility to pave the way for impactful change.

Customers are drawn to value. Operating with a social conscience and utilising ethical practices are now the most highly valued assets a business can have in the eyes of the consumer. 

Before, affordable pricing and high quality standards were what drew consumers in and established brand trust. Now, 85 per cent of consumers want businesses to be more transparent about their sustainability practices, according to the same study. This shift shows that in order to truly capture the hearts and minds of consumers, brands need to be more transparent and consistent in the values they are seen to uphold. 

Creating value through purpose

Australia is the land of mateship and of community, yet sometimes this value stops when it comes to doing business. However, the pandemic has shown us the best in humanity and the businesses who did the right thing in 2020 will be the ones that stand the test of time.

Many businesses stepped up to support the community and their people at this time, while others struggled through the challenges that came with COVID-19. Some leaders used the opportunity to look at their business and innovate in ways they had never done before. The focus on people and community is more important than ever to stay relevant as a brand.

Businesses embedding social responsibility models in their practices, such as sustainable development goals as frameworks for strategy, see returns not just on the bottom line, but also through staff retention and stakeholder engagement. 

The key really is understanding how your business or service can have a positive impact on its stakeholders, then creating clarity about the world you want to create. When this is executed correctly, profit will take care of itself.

It’s simple; if you work as kind as you do hard, success is inevitable. Your investors want it, your people deserve it and the world needs it now more than ever before.