How Do Purpose Before Profit Businesses Work?

Is it possible to create a successful business that also makes the world a better place? Whilst each generation seems to become more motivated to make money, innovate and build businesses, we are also placing increasing importance on ethical consumerism and protecting the environment.

We want to share with you some wonderful examples of businesses that are doing just this. Also, to look at how and why they have been successful and give you some ideas of how you might go about building a purpose before profit business.


Ecologi is not only tackling the climate crisis, they are making each of their subscribers a part of it too. The genius of Ecologi is that they recognise a generation engaged in environmental change but poor in terms of time.

For circa £1.25 per week, you become climate positive by supporting the work of Ecologi who invest your money in planting trees and supporting other efforts to fight global warming. At Blue Cactus, we’re huge advocates of transparency and Ecologi do this really well. They declare that 15% of subscribers fees goes to keeping the business running, which includes marketing, staff salaries and business expenses. 85% of profits go straight into carbon reduction projects. In addition, as a subscriber, you will receive advice on ways in which you can reduce your carbon imprint.

Ecologi covers their expenses and their staff but the majority of profits raised goes into protecting the planet and, by extension, us.

This works on the premise that if a lot of people contribute a reasonably small amount then together we can make a big difference.

Y.O.U Underwear

Y.O.U underwear makes soft organic cotton pants for men and women, as well as bralettes for women and girls. Not only does Y.O.U underwear feel good but it does good. For every pair of pants you purchase, Y.O.U underwear donates two pairs to Smalls For All, a charity supplying vulnerable women and children with underwear.

This fights period poverty, provides underwear for after surgery and generally provides underwear so that children and women don’t need to miss precious days of school. Y.O.U Underwear is a wonderful example of how having the privilege to be in a position to buy the simplest of things, can be used to help those who are less fortunate. In addition, anything that contributes to the opportunity for girls to receive an education is potentially changing their whole future. 

Elvis and Kresse

Elvis and Kresse have developed a wrap-around concept beginning with a drive to rescue firehoses no longer in use. For obvious reasons, firehoses have to be decommissioned if there is anything potentially faulty or just when they’ve been in use for too long. Still, that’s a leather headed for landfill. So Elvis and Kresse’s founders began repurposing this material and then began to rescue other leather, parachute silk, printing blankets, coffee and tea sacks, shoe boxes and auction banners. They use these materials to produce stylish accessories and homewares, with their handbags and weekend bags perhaps being their hero items. 

Elvis and Kresse prove that reclaimed materials can be transformed into luxury products. Naturally, this all comes with a hefty, though justified, price tag. However, comfort can be taken from the fact that up to 50% of profits are pumped into charities the business supports including, of course, Fire Fighters Charity.


Certified B Corp Ecosia is an online search engine with a difference. Ecosia use the profit they make from search advertisements to plant trees all over the world. So every time you use Ecosia to search the internet you are contributing to reforestation.

On a mission to offset the harmful effects of rising palm oil forests and destruction of habitats, Ecosia seeks to plant in places where the local communities and wildlife benefit most.

What is incredible about Ecosia is that they’re not reinventing a service, they’re just reworking it so that it supports the environment.

How To Start A Business That Has Purpose Beyond Profit

Through researching and looking into businesses that successfully balance making money with giving back, there have been three common traits each have in common. These, we believe, are key to starting a business that has a purpose beyond profit.

  1. Find Your Passion

As with any business, it’s so important to begin from a place of passion. If you’re going to enjoy your journey, be able to talk about your products/services frequently and stay engaged, even on the really tough days, then it’s essential you love what you’re trying to do. Whether that’s making beautiful products, providing valuable services or reinventing a tired way of doing things, don’t just do so because there’s a market for it but because it lights a fire inside you too.

  1. Find The Right Partners

You’ll notice that with the examples of ethical businesses we’ve showcased above, none of them has done it alone. Most have outsourced the charitable or planet-saving work to the experts. Being an ethical business does not necessarily mean creating more charities or learning all about how to reduce the world’s carbon footprint. You can stick to what you know and support the experts who are ready and set up to do the work to make the world a fairer and greener place to live, with the knowledge that you are very much a part of it.

  1. Find A Way To Communicate Your Purpose

Another reason for the success of the above companies is that when you visit their website you understand their business model in minutes. Companies who put purpose before profit make this the centre of their business and that includes the messaging. Of course, it’s important to showcase your products but with generation Y and X, if you can make your potential customers fall in love with your values first, then you’re already halfway to securing sales. If you find it difficult to communicate your concept, consider reaching out to a copywriter. Sometimes it is easier for an outsider to explain what you do in a clear and concise way since they aren’t as close and are therefore able to see the big picture.

There is no shame in profit. Profit keeps your business running, growing and pays your staff a fair wage. What these businesses prove is that wealth and success can be shared. There is no scarcity of opportunity or security in the world. Purpose before profit businesses show us that there is a way to spread this more fairly and bring those less fortunate up with you on your journey. Or else give back to the planet, protecting the world we are so blessed to live in.

Download our Sustainable Marketing eBook to see exactly how you can use your profits to create a better future.

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