The courage to let ‘purpose’ be your purpose

November 24, 2023

We all understand the textbook definition of courage, right? Of daring to be different, embracing the unknown, and being brave when the scary stuff happens. But courage in the context of purpose-driven business is a more specific beast, so we got some inspo from someone who knows all about it. We’ve worked closely with others who are aligned with our values and really dug deep into how we can not just talk about our values but actually live them. That’s where B Corp certification comes in.

At our recent masterclass on Brands for Good, we were thrilled to welcome Sarah-Anne Munro, Director of Brand and Marketing at Alchemy Construct, as a guest speaker. She and her husband Jamie Nicolson started this business in 2015 and have worked hard over the years to really drill down into how to do things differently. Today their business has transformed and is delivering ‘Buildings of Impact’ in more ways than one.

Construction is notorious for its traditional (and some might say antiquated) approach and highly competitive nature. It’s not often that those in this space ‘colour outside the lines’ and are actually successful at it. Doing so is often taken with many cautious steps that originate in a compelling desire for change and must be driven by the courage to forge ahead no matter what.

Sarah-Anne and Jamie found themselves at this junction in recent years, with a rapidly growing business and an ongoing discomfort around trying to ‘fit in’ to an industry with little space for their human-centred approach to business. “As we started to think deeply about Alchemy, Jamie and I realised we had a really strong value system that we weren’t talking about in the marketplace”, Sarah-Anne explains. “Our brand transformation work led us to drill down into why we were there, what we were doing, and what our focus was – both as a company and individually”. They then extended this work into conversations with their entire team, which were revelatory.

“One of the questions they were asked was, when the company does its best work, what is it doing, and pretty much everybody had a story that was linked to a human act. It wasn’t linked to project or service delivery; it was linked to these little human acts – whether it’s that we gave somebody who was struggling a chance or created an opportunity for a woman who wanted to transition into the construction industry – those were the stories that emerged”. This kind of insight can be transformative and, in Alchemy’s case, it strengthened their courage to let purpose be their defining characteristic.

“People worry about going to market with a message that seems softer or more empathetic – to talk about gender issues or the environment for example, but increasingly we realised this kind of vulnerability has become increasingly important in the construction industry. We never want to be arrogant, but we do want to be authentic to ourselves”. This is especially important in the social infrastructure space where some of our greatest moments and memories as human beings occur.

Every business and brand has its own unique experiences and challenges of course, but everyone’s learnings are different. These differences can provide valuable insights for each of us to consider as we co-develop a landscape filled with richer and more sustainable business models and a better future for all. 

Courage, in this context, is about stepping away from the familiar terrain of profit-centric strategies and venturing into uncharted territory where social and environmental responsibility take centre stage. This courage is not just an internal motivator but a rallying cry that resonates with customers, employees, and investors who seek purpose-driven organisations.

Redefining a business’s purpose is not a one-time event but an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement. It requires the courage to question existing practices, adapt to new challenges, and innovate for the greater good. For-purpose businesses understand that their success is intertwined with the well-being of the communities they serve and the planet they inhabit.

“Redefining a business’s purpose is not a one-time event but an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement. It requires the courage to question existing practices, adapt to new challenges, and innovate for the greater good.”.