Running a business with purpose: five things to know

Updated: Sep 11

It's always an uplifting experience when you happen to meet a like-minded person within the business community. It's especially encouraging when you spend time speaking with a whole group of business leaders who all want to make a positive difference in the world.

Business Against Poverty hosted its first webinar this week; we were pleased to be a part of it. The Wiltshire-based charity, which advocates ethical and sustainable business practice, was joined by a number of purpose-led company owners to discuss the importance of staying true to a clear vision.


Prasant Yelchuri, who oversees Haven Home in India (one of Business Against Poverty's partnered projects) was joined on the webinar by Graham Massey from The House alongside Triangle Design's Jules English and Jim Parry.


Here are five takeaways from an inspiring discussion.


ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR BEGINNING


Hearing, first-hand, Prasant's account of the origins of Haven Home was not only highly moving; it also underscored the importance of always remaining true to your origins.


"Anyone who comes to your doorstep for help, do not say no to them." This was the vision that Prasant's mother received, sowing the initial seeds for what would become an orphanage and school that now supports 120 children across seven acres.


This vision evolved into a clear and succinct purpose: Haven Home provides a place "where children have a home and hope."

Whatever events or life circumstances brought you to the position that you're in today, always remember your roots. Great things can emerge from humble beginnings.


SMALL STEPS CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE


Prasant also described the work of Haven Home: its evolution from initially supporting just five children 25 years ago; heartbreaking yet powerful examples of young lives transformed through being part of a supportive and caring environment; and the practical work that continues to have a profound and tangible impact on local communities.


This is best evidenced by Project Borewell, a focused effort to provide clean drinking water to families. Each borewell costs approximately £900, yet this relatively small sum blesses around 50 families.


It's all too easy to forget that, no matter how challenging we may find our own circumstances here in the UK, it doesn't take as much as you may think to make a significant change in the world. By taking small steps in the right direction, all of us have the power to create positive social impact.


ASK: WHAT CAN I GIVE BACK?


Change can be big or small. We all have unique skills, abilities and passions that can aid society and those who may find themselves in a less fortunate position than ourselves.


Knowing what you stand for as a business leader is important. Being clear on what you can personally do to give back, and encouraging a culture based around this purpose, is even more so.


All of us can ask this question of ourselves. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we're all inextricably linked: we are all connected in this world and rely on one another.


India has been hugely affected by Covid-19. The pandemic has placed tremendous strains on local resources and the Government, with the close proximity caused by overpopulation in many parts of the country making social isolation nigh on impossible.


With support from People Against Poverty, Prasant and his team have been able to provide over 500 people with food packages to sustain them each for five months.

Kindness, compassion and generosity rose to the forefront during 2020; we must hope that this continues to be the case when calmer waters return once again.


LOOK BEYOND PROFIT AND BE TRANSFORMATIVE


Graham Massey from The House has been helping businesses become a force for good for many years.


He explained that true transformation is possible when you consider what you can achieve as a business after looking beyond profit. Analysis has actually shown companies with a strong sense of purpose are able to transform and innovate better.

Every business must, of course, think commercially. But we are entering a brave new world; one in which integrity, transparency and a clearly-defined purpose matter more than ever before. By putting the needs of others first, genuine change is possible.


ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS


Triangle Design does more than just talk the talk when it comes to working with purpose: the company pledges a minimum of 1% turnover each year to supporting charitable causes.


Speaking to the Business Against Poverty community, Jules English and Jim Parry described how this ethos underpins their proposition, with clients, customers and staff all making a positive contribution by virtue of working with them.


Many UK charities are facing increasing demand yet are concerned about a shortfall in donations. Against that backdrop, it's encouraging and heartening to hear first-hand from business leaders who believe it's more important than ever before to carry on making charitable contributions - and who are committed to fostering a culture of looking outwards when it's needed most.


A truly inspiring discussion, let's hope it's the first of many webinars for this committed group of purpose-led professionals. Take a look at People Against Poverty's website to learn more about the projects that are currently being supported worldwide.


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Ben Veal MCIPR is founder & MD of Second Mountain Communications, a boutique consultancy that offers content, PR and strategic support to ethical and purpose-driven companies: meaningful communications for a brave new world.


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