Pukka Herbs: On Why Ethical Behaviour Makes Good Business Sense

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Launched in a spare-room in 2002 by co-founders Sebastian Pole and Tim Westwell, Pukka Herbs has grown to be the UK’s largest organic tea company.

Back then, Tim, a successful businessman, was looking to step out of his corporate job in order to contribute to a more positive world and Sebastian, an ambitious herbalist, dreamt of introducing people to the power of herbs.

Nearly 15 years on their dream business employs over 80 staff and generates an annual turnover of 30 million, but for Tim and Sebastian little else has changed.

Authenticity is still at the heart of everything the organisation does. From the incredible organic and fairly traded herbs used in every tea and supplement, to the fact that Pukka gives 1% of its turnover to support not-for-profit environmental organisations, Tim and Sebastian have stayed true to their values despite the challenges of scaling a business.

With organic farming, ayurvedic inspiration and a deep ecological awareness at the very core of Pukka, Tim and Sebastian have proved that commitment to ethical practices does make good business sense, but a clear strategy is essential.

Here Tim and Sebastian give their five top tips for running a successful ethical business:

1. Ensure your business has a clearly defined purpose. What added value do you bring to the world? At Pukka, our passion is to create a more conscious world, connecting people to the power of plants whilst nurturing the planet, and this has remained the same for fourteen years.

2. Can you prove and ensure authenticity? Authenticity is at the heart of Pukka, that’s why we have full traceability on all of our herbs from field to shelf. We are 100 percent committed, implementing our values in everything we do and we believe that by ensuring you keep your values as a true anchor in your business, as it grows they will flourish too.

3. Have a strong and sustainable business model. Carving out a profitable business strategy may seem obvious, but sometimes attention can wane as your passion for the cause grows.

4. Surround yourself with good people. At first, just Sebastian and I ran everything at Pukka, but as we’ve grown it’s been key to find people that not only share our values and have the right skills, but can also help us keep on top of business growth as well as share our ambitions.

Spending time finding people that share your passion and thrive on the excitement of working in a fast-paced environment is crucial, but so is encouraging them to explore their full potential.

5. Give yourself time to create your own space in order to reflect, refresh and think about how you’re developing. For example, if your business has grown twice its size in turnover, how much has your own personal growth and development grown?

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