Connecting Profit with Purpose. How to create a world-changing business by Phil Preston.

PhilI left a corporate career in 2007 to help people and organisations maximise the difference they make. He now works with many clients on purpose-based challenges. As well as being the author of this book he founded The Business Purpose Project, which includes episodes of Corporate Conversations on Purpose and Talking Purpose in Business & Life.

What’s the book about?

Connecting Profit with Purpose is about how each one of us, and each business, can make a positive difference in the world at scale. A recurring theme in the book is that conventional approaches to making a difference are only playing at the edges.

Most businesses ‘do good’ after they’ve made a profit and they allocate a sum of money for charitable causes. This is great, but it’s typically inconsistent both in terms of the level of money allocated the timeframe the specific charity is supported.

Imagine if building ‘doing good’ into the core of the business was the starting point, or driver to reinvent a business? It’s already happening. Think about Who Gives A Crap. To quote the founders:

But really, we love toilet paper because for us, it’s our way of making a difference. We started Who Gives A Crap when we learnt that 2.4 billion people don’t have access to a toilet. That’s roughly 40% of the global population and means that around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation.

And then there’s Thank You whose model is based on this purpose:

We bring consumers a product choice that exists for one purpose only; to help create a world where not one person lives in extreme poverty.

Business purpose is the new black

Phil’s book covers why business is the best place to change the world. In developed countries the corporate sector is many times larger than government and the not-for-profit sectors. We now have global companies that are larger than many nations. If you are going to change the world for the better, you need to think differently about business.

Instead of seeing societal challenges purely as risks to be managed companies that link profitable business with societal purpose, embrace these challenges as sources of innovation, pushing their thinking and strategies beyond the ‘charity as usual’ model.

Phil Preston

What’s inside the book?

There are four sections in the book and 12 chapters as well as some additional reading and a good footnotes section that has a ton of further reading.

  • Overcoming competing interests
  • Creating shared value
  • Finding your opportunities
  • You action plan

Phil also explores what’s been tried and where business/community is at, at the moment. Think BCorp, philanthropy, ethical investing, triple bottom line reporting, ESG reporting, social enterprise and more. Many of these approaches are a ‘after the fact’ allocation of resources/money not embedded into the core of the business itself.

Why you should read it?

I recommend this book to managers and executives in businesses and entrepreneurs. It provides an overview of where we are now in terms of ‘purpose’/doing good, why what we’re doing now isn’t sustainable and then unpacks examples and strategies to show you how to go about changing the business you are in, or have founded. It also provides guidance on how to identify the right opportunities for your business, how to bring the concept into the business and implement it, and how to change the conversation about purpose.

You can buy Phil’s book on our website

OR head to Phil’s website to learn more about him and how he can work with your business to make a real, measurable and scalable different to your purpose.