Why Whine look past the profits when it comes to business

OPINION: This series, exclusive to Prosper, puts the spotlight on how Mori and indigenous women do business, and what we can all learn from them.
Each article will focus on one element, with real life experiences from women Ive worked with, so that you can be inspired to take action too.

This article looks at taking a values-based approach to business.

The idea that profit doesnt come first might seem challengeable to some, but for the women I work with, its what I hear all the time.

* Five business support schemes that have gone under the radar in the wake of Covid-19
* How did she do that? Leaving the security of a salary to launch a skin spa
* Award-winning director likes to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in

Money and profits arent the driving force, theyre not the dangling carrot, and they dont always motivate indigenous women to act, when it comes to business.

Ruth Sio-Lokam, Chartered Accountant and Managing Director of Akono Advisory, used to work in a mainstream public practice accounting firm. I was paid very well, but I never really felt fulfilled - it was just a grind, says Ruth.

Ruth found that although the dollar is important in supporting her lifestyle and her family, she equally placed a lot of value on the quality time spent with family and the fulfilment she gets from serving her community.

When we take a values-based approach to business, money becomes a resource rather than the end goal.

I know we need money, dont get me wrong. But its not the thing were striving for most, and that makes all the difference when it comes to feeling fulfilled.

For Ruth, her values around family and service are high contributors to her sense of fulfilment and enjoyment in business. She gets to build relationships and do work that is beyond being transactional.

What does a values-based approach mean?​

Well first off, it doesnt mean were not in the game to make money. In fact, one of the key areas I work on with clients, is making sure that their business is viable, sustainable and profitable.

But it does also mean that when we look at the way we do business, we have several different perspectives to view from, and sometimes financial gain isnt the determining factor for decision-making.

For many of the women I work with, people are at the heart of why they do what they do. Their top rated values are centred around people, manaakitanga (caring for one another) and kotahitanga (unity, collective). They dont wish to succeed alone, but rather bring the collective up with them.

Sometimes the collective looks like their family. Sometimes its bigger than that.

Ruth says, You are investing in people striving to be better, to have more options and therefore contributing to raising the standard and opportunities for everyone involved. To me that is just as fulfilling as running a profitable and solvent business.

Jan Mika/123RF
Money and profits arent the driving force, theyre not the dangling carrot, and they dont always motivate indigenous women to act, when it comes to business.

And actually, I believe, we can do both.

What can we learn here?​

When we talk about business, one of the perspectives indigenous women look through is how this will impact the people involved, whether that be their teams, or their clients/customers, or the wider population and generations.

When theyre looking at building partnerships, theyre looking at how their values align. The question might become, okay great - this partnership could result in a good injection of revenue, but at the cost of what? Is it at the cost of collective success? Is it at the cost of upholding others mana? Is it at the cost of time, wellbeing, family?

Having worked with Ruth and others as a Business Coach, one thing I know for certain is that it can be challenging for Mori and Indigenous women starting out in business to go against the grain of being driven by profits.

Coaches, advisors, mentors - all using buzz words and catch phrases like profit first, six figures, 10k months, hustling. Words to attract the money hungry motivation within you.

The messaging is clear - money is the goal. Right?

To learn from what women like Ruth are doing, what if we took a different approach, and recognised that money isnt the goal, but rather the vehicle to make our bigger aspirations happen. To be impactful in our communities. To uplift our families. To solve big problems. To serve.

Absolutely plan for, track and strive for the financial gains in business, but like our friend Ruth, remember that theres a step afterwards that is the real driving force. The real carrot is what the money can be used for.

Being able to clearly articulate what your values are, personally and for your business, creates a filter of sorts when it comes to our perspective and decision-making. When we know what we stand for, and what we dont, we get to be really clear on how we make decisions.

If you havent identified your values recently, take some time out, and work out whats important to you. What filters or pou (posts) will you use to guide the way you do business?

Knowing your values and sharing them with your team, your clients and your audience, will help drive you towards your personal fulfilment.

Amy McLean is a Director and Business Coach for Mori and Indigenous women in business.


Our Partner