I’ve always had a passion for sustainable business. Being a vegan means that I inherently care about the work that businesses (and their CEOs) do and it’s inspiring that there are so many people out there that want to use their product business as a mechanism for achieving amazing outcomes in the world.

I truly believe that.

But I have a huge problem with ethical businesses and this comes after a number of encounters with them:

  1. Speaking to them on the phone about their companies during deep dive strategy sessions
  2. Consulting and doing done for you for some of Australia’s most renowned ethical companies
  3. Having them as coaching clients

And that problem is this –

The CEO is always more focused on the mission, than they are on the money.

Which on paper seems like a good problem to have, right? Especially when you are an ethical business. Who wouldn’t want to be a good person and really care about the environment and doing good things?

The problem is, 10/10 times, that same CEO prioritises the mission over the business actually making sales and making money.

And when there’s no money… there’s no money for the mission.

It’s sad to say, but almost all of the businesses that I’ve spoken to in this space are in one of two situations:

  • Broke
  • Barely profitable

Which means they’re basically doing nothing to further their mission, because they have no money and no customer base to do it.

This breaks my heart. Seriously. Because it’s not just start ups or baby business owners that this happens to – this has been true from businesses who have $0 in sales all the way through to the $20m fashion companies.

In 2019, I gave a sweetheart deal to an ethical fashion business.

A very well known one, which I won’t name here.

I met them and I was so fiercely passionate about what they were doing and the impact of selling their product, that I heavily discounted my consulting just for the chance to work with and help them.

It was a dream come true.

The only problem was, once I was inside the company, it was a mess. The company culture was “money is bad, we don’t make money”. I was blocked by every single team member in every single department. Any sales copy I tried to write was thrown out to be replaced with boring, generic copy.

  • I’d get to the heart of the customer’s needs and wants.
  • They’d cut that all away to talk about the product and the mission of the company.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do think it’s important to talk about the mission of your ethical company. If you’re trying to make a difference in the world, that matters. That’s important.

You do need to talk about your mission…. but not to sell product.

I am a very good advertiser. I am an excellent salesperson. I’ve been selling product for more than seven years now – my own and my clients.

In all the time that I’ve been writing copy, making sales and moving product, I’ve never once mentioned the backend of the business. Because the reality is? Your customer doesn’t care.

Like they do – they want to know who they’re buying from is a good person and company.

But they’re buying your product first and foremost. They need to know that the product is going to solve their problems and their concerns about their life. Your mission is just an add-on to that.

Despite having this conversation over and over and over again with the sweetheart deal client, I could not get through to the team. I went to the CEO multiple times to plead my case. I showed him what I meant – ads that had made me and my clients hundreds of thousands of dollars – so they could see what worked in sales.

The answer was always no.

And in the end, I quit. I ended my contract and walked out.

Months later, I saw advertising campaigns for this business to crowd-fund the business. Essentially, they were getting investment from their customers to keep their business afloat. And THAT broke my heart.

Why?

Because if the only way you can make money in your business is to ask your customers to donate money to your mission, there is something REALLY wrong.

Can you see that?

A business should be able to stand on it’s own two feet, selling and delivering the product it sells. It’s whole point of existing is to do just that – otherwise, you don’t really have a business, right?

Supporting missions that are important to you are an after-effect of having done what the core business is – selling and delivering product.

Getting customers to donate to your mission is one way to get money… but if that’s your only way of making money, you’re not a business. You’re a charity.

I realise that this is a really hard conversation to hear and read. I know that it triggers all of your money and sales points. I know it doesn’t fit into the world that you’ve been indoctrinated in.

But take it from someone who’s spoken to hundreds of women in business, trying to do incredible things but have no money to do it…

This mindset HAS to change otherwise you’ll never have enough money to do anything meaningful with your mission.

When I left my first company, Trefiel, I had so many dreams of impact I wanted to create in the world. But at the time, I had no business, I had no money and I had no influence.

It took me a full two years of purely focusing on making money before I had:

  • A sales system that worked
  • Profitability to donate to causes
  • Expertise to be really valuable – not just financially – to so many causes I care about

And now that I am where I am, I am infinitely more valuable to the missions I really care about than I have ever been before.

But only because I focused on money first.

If you are an ethical business, please take this post seriously.

I write it from my heart with a deep passion for what you do and I care enough to have this conversation with you – even though I’ve spent the last two and a bit years watching ethical businesses crash and burn.

No one cares how ethical you are.

Your customers have to want to buy your product.

You have to become excellent at selling product – not based on the mission, but based on the core value of the product in your customer’s life.

You have to become excellent at delivering product at volume.

And once you’ve figured out those two things, you’re going to be in a position where doing the work you really care about – the work that has the most important impact on the world – is more possible than ever before because your business makes money.

That’s using money to fuel mission. That’s impactful. That’s building a truly ethical business.

If you’re sitting there, wondering HOW to actually build your product business up to the point where you can do incredible things for the causes you care about, book in a deep dive strategy session with me.

These strategy sessions are incredibly valuable – we’re going to go through, step-by-step, the process I use to build really successful product companies (who are no where near as impactful or ethical as you).

You’re going to see your business in a totally new way that allows you to do even more with your company and your causes.