When you think fast food, you think McDonald’s, Burger King, and, maybe, Wendy’s. If you want to get “ethnic,” you might throw in Taco Bell.

Try as they might, these companies can’t get you to equate eating fast food with eating healthy. You go to them for two reasons: cost & convenience. And maybe you don’t go to them at all.

And that’s just my gut.

Using my amazing powers of deduction, I would guess that there’s a larger percentage than average of people reading this blog who just wouldn’t go to a fast food joint for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You’re not in that market. You’re not a customer. You drive by not through.

Fast food has a bad reputation.

The fast food market is fairly finite. While new McEaters are born every day, the group of people willing to eat that food remains basically the same. New people aren’t being “converted” to fast food every day. Those that are do so out of necessity not out of choice.

That means, to grow profits, companies like McDonald’s and Wendy’s have to vie for a bigger piece of the pie. They choose a specific segment and they go after it. They release a new product to court a new segment of customers. They pick up a few more crumbs.

Hey, I thought this was about Chipotle?

Right. So Chipotle comes along. It’s fast food. Straight up. Unless it’s horribly busy, I can get my food in a Chipotle faster than I can at Wendy’s.

Here’s the difference: I choose to eat at Chipotle.

Why? It tastes good, first & foremost. Second, it’s real food.

Did you see this commercial during the Grammys? I couldn’t believe my eyes. That could not have been a cheap ad spot.

Cultivate a better world, says Chipotle. I buy it. Their meats are sustainably raised. They use as much organic produce as possible. It’s a story and an idea I’m willing to buy over & over again.

Chipotle entered the fast food market but it didn’t allow the fast food market to define it. Instead, it generated value (environmental sustainability, health consciousness, deliciousness) that brought a whole new customer base into the fast food market.

What does that kind of growth look like? With 1230 US stores: “Chipotle stock is up 50 percent on the year and over 500 percent over five years, far outperforming the market as a whole or the restaurant sector in particular. They announced last week that revenue grew 23.7 percent in 2011, with an 11 percent increase in same-store revenues. Restaurant operating margins are more than 25 percent,” according to Slate.com.

Those aren’t numbers to sneeze at.

Chipotle has taken a strong stance (anti-factory farming, for one), doubled-down on constraints (1 menu, few choices), and upped the ante by consistently delivering great tasting food. In doing so, they’ve created a legion of new-to-the-market fiercely loyal fans.

Principled choices lead to massive profit.

Click to tweet it!

So the question to you is:

Have you backed down from principled choices because you fear the wrath of the existing market?

Are you allowing your competitors to write the rules of the game? Or are you writing your own?

Are you afraid that stating your beliefs and injecting them into every aspect of your business will turn customers away?

Are you simply following the standard strategy? Or are you generating new value through purpose-driven choices that attract new customers to you & your business alone?

Only a few days remain to get in on The Art of Earning LIVE Virtual Ticket! Build a business on your principled choices, creating value for you & those you serve. Get all the info here.