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5 Business Leaders Explain How Purpose Means Profits

December 8, 2022

Today, Purpose Must Be the Driving Force to Build a Successful Company

Marketing. It’s an essential component of any business. And while the concept of purposeful marketing is not new, the events of 2020 served to highlight and speed up the trend. Purposeful marketing goes beyond a knee-jerk reaction to consumer needs and wants. Brands that uncover their truth and tell their story are now the expectation instead of the exception. 

Broad definitions are one thing, but in practice, what does purposeful marketing mean? It can mean different things to different people, so we talked to five notable business leaders and asked them to share their ideas. They each define what a purpose-driven approach is from their point of view, along with why purpose has to be the driving force in order to build a great company. The core insight? Profit follows purpose.

Why purpose has to drive every business decision

Purpose-driven companies reap many benefits. They:

  • Outperform the market by a whopping 42%
  • Attract top talent
  • Realize three times the growth of their competitors
  • Inspire innovation

These companies also make faster decisions, attract more investment, and have a higher rate of customer satisfaction. 

All of this, of course, starts at the top. Five successful business leaders of purpose-driven companies articulate exactly what purpose-driven means to them and how it has propelled growth:

Let’s dig in.

Alex Chetkovich is abuzz with purpose

Upendo Honey is a social impact organic honey company that works with beekeepers in extremely remote forests in western Tanzania. They bring some of the world’s best and highest quality organic honey to customers worldwide. Alex is an intentional, purposeful leader and influencer who believes that to improve the lives of others is an essential part of business.

As the co-founder and director, Alex is focused on a triple net win – profitability, poverty reduction, and sustainability. Under his directorship, Upendo has doubled in size, revenue, and impact every year since its launch. His purposeful approach to business proves that the private sector can deliver societal impact at scale when they work with nonprofits and NGOs. 

Opportunity came with the realization that through the provision of financing and organizational capabilities, the company could help eradicate poverty through agriculture. They work with 2,500 beekeepers and have 80 full-time staff. They provide training as well as the chance for people to sustain their families for the first time.  

“People need the reliable income that the private sector can supply,” says Alex. “Just having a salary and having sustainable businesses is a really, really, really important thing when 70% of Tanzania and 55 million people live on less than $1.90 a day; they just need jobs. We think that’s really important to provide that and show that it can be done (by other businesses) as well.”

Emma Mondolino opens the door to connections

Since 2017, Emma Mondolino has used her social media experience on Pinterest and Twitter to connect neighbors and neighborhoods through Nextdoor. The company’s purpose, says Emma, is “to connect everyone to a neighbor so that they feel they can belong.” 

Nextdoor’s marketing focuses on not only getting the word out about the app, but to show the value of neighborhood and how the two together can help people form meaningful connections. It’s an evolving landscape that has experienced rapid growth, and it was authentic storytelling that led to that growth. 

Kindness is Nextdoor’s core positioning, and they’ve managed to make the word their own. It’s a people-first stance that resonates in the hearts of those who are attracted to the platform. It provided a lifeline for many during the pandemic, from parents at their wit’s end with children at home to those who just needed someone to talk to. Nextdoor developed a help map so folks could mark their home and list how they were able to help others.

What goes around comes around, and Nextdoor then partnered with a major chain store, listed their locations on a map, and a brand partnership was born that benefited Nextdoor, the retailer, and everyone on the help map. Nextdoor is now in 33% of households and 11 countries, with the hope to expand to connect people and give them a place to belong. 

Joseph Kenner: Purpose that’s baked in

Love the brownies in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? They came from Greyston Bakery, which creates meaningful employment opportunities for those who face employment barriers. They have an inclusive open hiring® policy, and after hire, they provide bakers with continued training and development. Greyston Bakers is a certified B-Corp whose efforts benefit people in their local community. 

Greyston Bakery is an offshoot of the Greyston Foundation, a $13 million network of for-profit and not-for-profit entities that provide jobs, workforce development, low-income housing, supportive services, child care, after-school programs, comprehensive HIV health care, tenant services, community gardens, as well as the gourmet bakery.

Greyston, and Joseph, believe that each person has value to offer the world. “It is up to us to unlock that potential and invest in their success. When one person succeeds, we all succeed.” 

Purpose must be used as a decision-making tool to incite change, says Joseph. “There’s value in seeing other people as investments and intentionally investing in them. This creates a rippled effect in their community and society at large.”

Their core values? Respect, compassion, non-judgment, collaboration, empowerment, and transformation. The Center for Open Hiring at Greyston is an innovative concept that partners with visionary leaders to create radical change in human capital management globally. Key to this mission is to ensure future open-hiring employees have the “Greyston experience” wherever they are – a great place to learn and work with supportive services to ensure they continue to work.

Michael Salguero: Clean food for everyone

Sometimes personal motivation results in a greater good. Michael started ButcherBox after his wife was diagnosed with an illness that was helped by a diet that included grass-fed beef, something that at the time was difficult to find in any quantity. After launch, it quickly became apparent that there was a market for humanely raised meat and sustainable seafood.

This involved the disruption of an industry that needed it to both move animal welfare forward and improve the quality of meat overall. “We’re not trying to change the industry so that we can own the industry. We’re trying to change the industry for the benefit of everybody. And our members with their dollars, their memberships, and their orders are helping us to push policy in Washington and to fund different organizations that are doing great work on the ground to inspire change.”

Along those same lines of change, ButcherBox was founded with Michael’s own money, boosted by a Kickstarter campaign. Due to a prior bad experience with funds from venture capital, he decided to raise the money himself. “Because stakeholders have their own agendas and goals, raising venture capital can sometimes cause you to compromise your values and the core mission of your business.” 

As of 2021, ButcherBox is a certified B-Corp. This means they can fund things such as a partnership with Niman Ranch and help fund a project with the Noble Research Institute. “Everyone can grow a tremendously wonderful business if we can take the industry from 2 percent to 20 percent and beyond. That is what’s going to cause these companies to really grow. And it is what will ultimately fix the meat industry.”

Mike Curtin: Food as a tool

The mission of DC Central Kitchen (DCCK) is to use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities. This nonprofit provides hands-on culinary job training for those who face high barriers to employment through the creation of living wage jobs. They also bring nutritious, dignified food where it is most needed. DCCK’s social programs include scratch-cooked farm-to-school meals in Washington, D.C. schools, delivery of fresh, affordable produce to corner stores in neighborhoods without supermarkets, and healthy food from a fast-casual cafe.

Mike joined DC Central Kitchen in 2004 and has worked tirelessly to expand revenue-generating social enterprise initiatives. DCCK’s Nutrition Lab Facility funded and launched under his leadership has allowed DCCK to take on more contracts, rapidly increased investments to purchase from local farms, and improved production efficiency. It employs more than 130 people, about 40% of whom graduated from the Kitchen’s nationally recognized culinary job training program. Social enterprise now accounts for nearly 65% of DCCK’s total operating budget.

“DC Central Kitchen doesn’t just want to be a place of opportunity for our students – we want to facilitate empowerment and liberation with the clients who are served by the organizations that we deliver food to, and that place of opportunity and liberation for our staff,” says Mike. “We want to be that place for everyone: whether that is someone who spent two decades in prison, or who’s experienced homeless or battled the illness of addiction, been abused, or even someone who’s coming out of college with a significant amount of student debt or coming out of graduate school and really wanting to change the world but just confused about how and where to do that.

“Having individuals that have gone through the program and have experienced the transformative nature of that program continue to work with us keeps us focused on that mission going forward. This makes the Kitchen real. It makes us transparent and makes us authentic. And I think for me, it provides us with just a reality check every day and it’s something that drives me and drives us as an organization.”

So there it is – five leaders who manage to blend purpose with profit in a world that increasingly demands it. Get started with Advantages today to discover how we can make purposeful marketing work for you.

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