The Difference Between Profit and Value

Typing at laptop

(Image: Austin Distel)

In today’s world, many people and businesses make decisions that give them the most profit, rather than what adds the most value to people’s lives.

For example, milk chocolate companies spend millions on advertising to get people to buy chocolates, even though their products are really just sugar at the end of the day. Selling candy bars is great for the profit margin, but it is ultimately detrimental to our health.

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Soda companies sell sugared drinks to the masses, which ultimately lead to health problems. These drinks are highly profitable, but they hardly add value to our health and well-being.

Fast-fashion companies create huge environmental waste as they produce a new style of clothes every season and market them as the latest fashion and the way to differentiate your identity, rather than help girls recognize their beauty and worth independent of what they’re wearing and their makeup.

Online, many businesses have become profit-centered at the expense of giving value. Internet marketers and business coaches design their websites as one elaborate sales funnel in their bid to trigger sales with every visitor at every touchpoint; their customers have turned into statistics rather than people they want to serve. Web giants like Facebook design their platforms with unethical dark patterns that create addictive usage patterns at the expense of the user’s well-being — it’s well known that increased Facebook usage is associated with depression. And there is Netflix, where CEO Reed Hastings have openly said that sleep is their competition.

“You get a show or a movie you’re really dying to watch and you end up staying up late at night, so we actually compete with sleep. And we’re winning!” – Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings

In a world where money is the currency, all businesses need to earn profit in order to survive. However, there is a difference between being profit-driven at the expense of your customers’ well-being, and being value-driven and earning a profit as a result of putting your customers first.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • Do you focus on profits to the point of forgoing value?
  • Does your product or service add or subtract value from the world?
  • Is your product something the world really needs or simply a means to earn money?
  • Do you allow yourself to pursue projects that don’t necessarily generate revenue because they add tremendous value to the world?
  • Does your product add value to your customer in the short, mid, and long term?
  • Is your product and the way you are running your business the most meaningful way to add value to your customers?

Being value-driven rather than profit-driven may seem like a silly business model as you forgo obvious profit-earning opportunities and leave easy money on the table. But it is actually the best path in the long run as customers boycott businesses that don’t serve their highest interests. It is the best path for you, your customers, and the world.

Here are some examples of how you can add value rather than subtract value:

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  • Instead of selling yet another unhealthy dessert or snack, think about how you can sell a food that can nutritionally add to people’s diet.
  • Instead of convincing people to buy yet another product to make themselves appear more attractive, help them to recognize the beauty that’s already in them.
  • Instead of finding ways to make your readers stay on your website for an unnaturally long amount of time, think about how you can positively change their lives, and let them decide the optimal amount of time to stay on your site.
  • Instead of designing your website as one big sales funnel and treating your customers as statistics, see them as who they are — individuals you are trying to serve and help better their lives.

When we start focusing on people as people rather than money-earning opportunities, that’s when we truly benefit society as a whole, rather than serving our own self-interests. We start to truly better people’s lives and raise their consciousnesses, while attracting a loyal following and earning a profit as a natural result. That’s when we truly create a positive impact on the world.

Read: Is It Realistic to Believe ‘Chase Your Passion and Money Will Follow’? (The Passion, Market, Skills Framework)

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