6 Inspirational and Essential Reads for Purpose-led Business

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Purpose is powerful. It gives us hope, meaning and strength to challenge the status quo. It inspires and gives us a reason to keep going in the face of adversity.

Today, with the weight of social and environmental responsibility bearing down upon us all, the relentless and reckless pursuit of profit is being outweighed by a new breed of business. One defined by purpose, which puts people and the planet, first. Something, we think you’ll agree, is worth celebrating in these unprecedented, pandemic-stricken times.

If this year’s turn of events gave you the time to press pause, and reconsider how you might hit play once more, we’ve compiled six essential reads for the purpose-driven entrepreneur. With sustainable development, social responsibility and environmental stewardship on everyone’s lips, our creative community believes there has been no better time to explore purpose. What does it mean for your business? Pick up the power of a book, get a little bit philosophical, and join us as we ride the new wave of people and planet-centric thinking surging around the globe.

Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by E.F Schumacher

Published in 1973, and the oldest book on this list, you’d be forgiven for being dismissive of this first recommendation. But E.F Schumacher’s ‘small is beautiful’ idea is one that returns over and over, a timeless reminder bigger does not mean better. Putting human needs at the heart of an economic model, this collection of essays is the original exploration of the ethical ideas purpose-led businesses are building upon today. Considering it’s been over 40 years since the book was published, and the world is richer but no happier, we’d say it’s about time we revisited Schumacher’s philosophy.

Purchase your copy here.

Image credits: Vintage Publishing


Do Purpose: Why brands with a purpose do better and matter more by David Hieatt

Just one of the many mini tomes packed with tips to inspire doing from The Do Book Co: this modern handbook is a must-read for today’s purposeful business person. Anyone who feels ideas brewing and entrepreneurial spirit seeping out of their souls will be spurred into action by this bold and frank pocket guide. Hieatt has condensed his entrepreneurial experience into the nuts and bolts of what it takes to create a brand with purpose; an essential reference point brimming with anecdotes, quotes, facts and simple truths to motivate and inspire at every stage of business development.

Purchase your copy here.

Image credits: The Do Book Co


Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough & Michael Braungart

Something of a manifesto for a design revolution, this book is the bridge between design and science. Published in 2002, architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart came together to argue we should be striving to create value in design, not throwing our innovative thinking behind efforts into minimising waste. This revolutionary book is the reminder we all need that nature’s systems, perfected over millennia, can provide ample inspiration not just for redesign, but for regeneration, too.

Purchase your copy here.

Image credits: Vintage Publishing


Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist by Kate Raworth

Recognised as one of today’s key economic and political thinkers, Kate Raworth’s book is a stark reckoning to the prevailing neoliberalism in mainstream economics. Her basis for change is the deceivingly simple yet effective doughnut figure, which proposes the sweet spot between economic growth and environmental preservation. This is the book you need to escape the endless GDP growth mindset which has led us to the critical crossroads we find ourselves at today, and think within planetary boundaries.

Purchase your copy here.

Image credits: Cornerstone


The B Corp Handbook: How to use business as a force for good by Ryan Honeyman & Dr Tiffany Jana

In just over a decade, B Corp has become the most desirable certification for purpose-led businesses today. As the only certification scheme which looks beyond service and product to evaluate companies’ entire social and environmental performance, it’s no wonder there are thousands of brands working through their applications to join this positive business movement. This handbook, now in its second edition, draws on the experience of over 200 certified B corporations to offer a roadmap for purpose-led leaders everywhere to create a business which aims to leave the planet and people in a better place than when they started.

Purchase your copy here.

Image credits: Berrett-Koehler


Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard

Climber turned business leader and environmental hero, Yvon Chouinard’s much-hailed book remains a must-read; part-memoir, part-manual. After all, Patagonia Inc. has escaped the realm of retail and manufacturing to become a global philanthropic phenomenon to be reckoned with. Delving into the philosophies guiding the company’s approach and resulting policies on everything from the environment to manufacturing, marketing and human resources: Let My People Go Surfing shows how purpose, transparency and activism can transpire to be some of the most powerful building blocks to the influential businesses of the future.

Purchase your copy here.

Image credits: Penguin Putnam Inc


Like this reading list? Check out the Journal page on our site or follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more book, film, art and podcast recommendations driving the conversations here within our creative community at Gather Round.

In the meantime, we’ll leave you with this.