You run a business which has a core focus around providing products/services in an ethical and environmentally friendly way (sustainable business), or which has a social emphasis. Maybe you are a private company, self employed, a 'not for profit' or community interest enterprise. You pour your heart and soul into your business, but you feel bad about actually making money! Does that sound familiar? Well I am here to remind you why it's not just okay to make money, why it's actually really important for businesses like yours to be turning a profit.
Let me start with a caveat. What is (in my opinion) 'not cool' is making profit at the expense of something else. So making profit because you've screwed your suppliers down, and they then can't pay their bills. Making profit because you've chosen a cheaper source, which is made in a way which is not environmentally friendly, or will break more quickly. Or you're making a profit by just whacking a massive mark up on what you are doing, or selling people things that they don't need - that isn't really providing value for your customers. That sort of thing, but you are ethical sustainable businesses, so I know you wouldn't do that!
I'm a big believer in what Zig Ziglar is famous for having said:
"You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want"
- so as long as we are providing value for our customers and giving them what they need, then we can also really benefit. If you can put your hand on your heart and look yourself in the eye and say that you know you are doing great things for your customers, your suppliers, the environment and so on then why shouldn't you make a profit as well?
But this is why it's even more important:
1. The more profit you make, the more you can give back.
Whether that's through the tax you pay and the good that does in society, the money you can invest in improving your business so you can deliver more value to your customers, the money you can invest in training and investing in your team, or whether the profits give you more resources to invest back into your community through Pro Bono work, or charitable donations... The more money you make, the more good you can do.
2. The more profit you make, the more you can spread the word.
The louder and prouder you can be about your business, the better. The more you can let people know what you do and why you are doing it the way you are doing it, the better - because it means:
More awareness and business for you
More awareness of this type of sustainable business practice, which increases consumer consciousness and improves buying behaviour.
More pressure on other businesses to up their own practices
Ultimately, those of us who have an mind for sustainable business, ethical, fairtrade, environmentally friendly or socially conscious are doing so because that's the kind of world we want to see. There are many people who are awake to the importance of this, but many more who are not. So our mission, if we choose to accept it, is to be SO SUCCESSFUL that people cannot ignore this type of sustainable business model anymore. People cannot make excuses for their poor buying behaviour and so on.