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Profit & Purpose in Business.

Growing your business through the lens of purpose.

Tamara Fenech

Cosie Studio has been up and running for just over a month now and we have been totally motivated and excited by the feedback, curiosity and willingness from people. I wanted to say a personal thank you!

If you’re been following us from the start or just started following us, you’ve probably heard the words purpose and sustainability a lot. So I wanted to take a moment to begin to dig deeper into these ideas and what role they have to play in the business space. 

As a studio, we work with different SME and start up businesses/brands, to support them in implementing purpose and sustainability into their business models. We make room for them to become more aware of the negative impacts that they are creating through the products or services that they are bringing into this world. While recognising different opportunities to transform them into positive impacts instead. 

Purpose and Sustainability in business. So, what do we mean by it exactly? 

In a nutshell, it is how businesses can build resilient models by understanding their purpose and intention and create positive impact through their business activities, without compromising on profits. 

I’ll explain. 

So far, success within business has been measured from very few and singular angles. Namely profitability and linear growth. Of course, when we consider the history of how and when the start of our current markets were born, out of the industrial revolution that was built on a linear model of take-make-dispose, this makes a lot of sense. Today, however, our markets and industries are beginning to change. In response to more information, research, technology, innovation etc., we understand that the linear economic model was built with the assumption that resources were never ending, rather than finite. So, it’s more than clear that this take (resources) - make (something out of resources) -  dispose (of the resources) model is no longer relevant - why? Because we do not have the luxury of using up the world’s resources in the same way anymore. It is a climate emergency after all. 

Before, businesses looked at their success through the lens of linear growth alone. Sales and profit were the two main indicators that their business was doing well, regardless of the negative impacts left on our environment and society. Today, businesses are acknowledging that they do not function in silos, but function thanks to our society, culture, surroundings, environment and more. It makes room to realise that external influences and impacts affect internal ones also. By addressing them, businesses have the opportunity to grow in a more dynamic, organic and resilient way. 

It is essentially an invitation to:

  1. Acknowledge external influences and impacts
  2. Engage with externalities that influence internalities
  3. Consider volatile negative impacts and turn them into resilient positive ones
  4. Recognise potential multi-stakeholder opportunities and new business avenues

In more simple terms, when we use the word purpose & business, we are essentially talking about companies acknowledging that their work creates impact and inevitably affects people and our environment. They then have a choice. Their business can impact and affect negatively or positively. With the volatile state that our world currently faces, today we know that by harnessing the opportunities to create positive impact and finding new metrics of growth, businesses are building more resilient business models that are more likely to survive today’s challenges. 

It is not about disregarding the important role of profit towards a company's growth and ability to essentially keep functioning. What its about is understanding other elements such as resource dependancy, employee wellbeing, supply chain management and more as just as vital towards the ability for a business to survive and keep functioning.

That is how purpose and profit can lie in the same space.

The work is about creating business models that integrate purpose within different profitable opportunities by considering the current markets, climate and various other external factors that have an impact on business operations to essentially future proof businesses for long lasting success.

Below are some creative examples of well known companies engaging with profit and purpose:

National Australia Bank recognises that the financial health of its customers is integral to its success. Accordingly, NAB redesigned its hardship offering, NAB Assist, to provide specialist support to individuals who are struggling to repay loans and mortgages without assistance and/or those at risk of default, eviction, and cycles of bad debt— which have the potential to impact them and their families for many years, and also pose a risk to the bank’s economic performance.In this way, enhancing the welfare of its customers offers a shared long-term benefit: 97% of those helped by NAB Assist are back on track with payments after 90 days, which saves NAB upwards of $90m per year. 

Abbott saw a shared value opportunity in helping dairy farmers in India, where Abbott’s nutrition business needed high-quality milk, but farmers often did not have access to needed training and resources to grow their farms and incomes. Abbott’s India dairy initiative provided infrastructure and training to 1,500 smallholder farmers, increasing milk quality and thus farmer incomes, while building transferable skills. This also helped Abbott gain high-quality, cost-efficient ingredients to manufacture its nutrition products locally and build a sustainable supply chain.