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Profits or Purpose: Can we only choose one?

Profits or Purpose: Can we only choose one? ,

Five Key Strategies For a Balanced Business Breathing is to life like profits are to a business. Breathing is essential for living, but it is not the purpose for living,…

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Profits or Purpose: Can we only choose one?

Five Key Strategies For a Balanced Business

Breathing is to life like profits are to a business.

Breathing is essential for living, but it is not the purpose for living, just as profits are essential for a business, but it is not the purpose the business exists.

This analogy sets the stage for today’s business leaders as they grapple with balancing profit while maintaining their core purpose. From biblical narratives to contemporary corporate conduct, we find lessons and strategies that guide us in finding that balance.

The tale of King Solomon in the Bible and Jesus’ act of flipping tables and cleansing the temple offer timeless wisdom on the importance of staying true to purpose.

Solomon’s rise and fall illustrates the danger of prioritizing wealth and power over values and purpose. A modern parallel is the Volkswagen emissions scandal, which showed the world the perils of prioritizing profit over purpose.

At the same time, the number of corporate bankruptcies in the last several decades reminds us of the importance of profits.

Finding the balance between profit and purpose is critical—and an ongoing battle.

Many of you have admirably navigated this path, achieving substantial profits while adhering to your core purpose. Unfortunately, some members of our community are passionately driven by a noble purpose, but face challenges in generating sufficient profits. This casts uncertainty on the sustainability of their ventures.

No matter where you currently stand on the profitability spectrum, I want to offer five strategies to help fortify both your profit margins and your ability to adhere to your core purpose. By applying these principles, you can ensure that your business not only survives but thrives, maintaining harmony between financial success and meaningful impact.

Five key strategies for a balanced business:

  1. Revisit and reinforce mission and values: Aligning business operations with core mission and values, as Solomon initially did, is crucial for long-term success. Walt Disney said, “If the values are clear, the decisions are easy.” Keeping mission and values at the forefront will attract loyal customers and engaged employees, driving profitability.
  2. Ethical and sustainable practices: Ethical practices build trust and credibility. Pressure-test your ethics. Volkswagen’s emissions scandal serves as a stark reminder of the costs of ethical lapses.
  3. Transparency and accountability: The fallout from the Sports Illustrated AI controversy highlights the need for transparency in operations and accountability in leadership for maintaining reputation and profitability.
  4. Invest in employees: Aligning employees with their strengths and upskilling the workforce builds trust and engagement as it enhances performance, leading to greater customer satisfaction, boosting profitability.
  5. Adapt to market changes: Adapting to market changes does not mean forgoing your purpose. The failure of companies like Toys “R” Us, Kodak and Blockbuster exemplifies the importance of evolving with market trends and consumer preferences to sustain profitability.

While these strategies may not directly focus on increasing sales or raising capital, they contribute to building a strong, sustainable business foundation that drives financial success. Companies that invest in their values, ethics, transparency, employees, and adaptability often see increased loyalty, innovation, and market relevance, which can lead to higher profits.

Profit (the oxygen for our companies) is not only desirable, it’s essential for the long-term success and sustainability of any business endeavor. But our businesses are more than simply profit-making machines—they have the potential to be vehicles of change, integrity, and positive impact if we know and honor our purpose.

Let’s commit to this balanced approach, where our businesses breathe not just for survival but for meaningful contributions to our world.

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