What Is Your Business For: Profit, Cause or Hobby?

What Is Your Business For: Profit, Cause or Hobby?

Which best describes your business? A hobby, a cause or a for-profit business? Or is it a combination?

The thought of a business as a hobby or a cause may seem a little counterintuitive . . . but it’s not really. Let’s take a look at all three from my point of view.


Strictly Business: Driven by Profit

A business is a for-profit, “let’s serve our customers by understanding the market we operate in and by communicating with them in a way that maximizes my top line and profits” exercise.

Cause Business: Driven by a Greater Good

A cause is a twist on that. A cause operating inside of a business is when you take a position against commonly accepted opinion to do or not do something. Or when you make a certain decision even though it might limit sales or profits because it is the right thing to do or something you believe in.

Hobby Business: Driven by Passion

A hobby is something you do for fun and pay scant attention to in terms of sales and profits. Rarely do hobby businesses turn into anything other than for-profit models once the patience to fund the losses wears thin.

Let’s look at some examples. I don’t think I need to describe a for-profit based business so let’s skip to a cause business.

What Does a Cause Business Look Like?

Example A: Minimal Risk of Negative Impact on Revenue
On one extreme you can have a business that believes in giving back to its community. This isn’t limiting sales, but it does mean it is driven by serving a greater good and not just the almighty bottom line.

Example B: Small Risk of Negative Impact on Revenue
Another example is something we and many other food businesses are doing and that is cleaning up our ingredients. Now that we know things like trans fats and GMOs and ingredients with names with too many syllables are bad for us we are working to get rid of them. This is more expensive and not all costs can be passed on so it does impact profitability.

Example C: Significant Risk of Negative Impact on Revenue
Lastly, you can have a model that really is a cause with a business attached to it instead of just a business with a conscience. This means that I am going to do things which I know may severely limit my sales in the interest of what I perceive to be the public well-being ─ even though it might not be universally accepted. That is a mouthful so let me explain . . .

To use an example that has been in the news lately, not killing Cecil the lion is good business because the overwhelming majority of the population supports that. That’s having a conscience. On the other hand, taking a stand against any form of hunting is a cause. There is not a universal consensus on that, so you run the risk of alienating some customers. It is fine to take a stand on a cause if you choose to. The point is that regardless of what the cause is, going with the grain is vastly different than going against it when it comes to a business that is driven even in part by profit.

What Does a Hobby Business Look Like?

Finally, we have the hobby business. One might suggest if I ever opened a bike shop it would be a hobby ─ and they would be wrong. It would be a for-profit business in a market I love which would make it fun. Doing something professionally that you happen to find fun isn’t a hobby. It is a smart career choice. On the other hand, if you go to work and don’t manage the business but stick with it because “it is fun” that is a hobby.

In reality, most businesses that thrive have elements of all three. They are profitable (business) and they do things the public believes in (cause) while putting a smile on people’s faces (hobby). That particular combination describes a successful business. If one of the three starts to dominate . . . then you may have something else.


Great Harvest has a recipe for success, and we want to share it with you!

Why Great Harvest is Business. The way it ought to be.

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