Many entrepreneurs launch their businesses with dreams of building a legacy that lasts well beyond their years. However, for a business to survive every up and down, it needs to offer more than profits to its shareholders. A sustainable business is a good business — in other words, it is a business that does well.
A business sustainability plan guides a business leader’s choices to ensure that an organization can endure while generating as much good as possible. Here are a few tips for building a sustainable business, whether a leader is starting with a brand-new startup or an established corporation:
Every business leader has heard repeatedly about the changing climate and its impact on business — but not every business leader has connected directly with how their organization and climate change interact. Business leaders should take the time to learn how one’s own business is contributing to climate change and how climate change is interfering with business practices. This research can give a business leader a useful connection to the need for a business sustainability plan, and it can also provide insight that will form the foundation of sustainable strategies.
Consumer trust in corporations continues to fall to lower and lower depths, so business leaders need to do what they can to repair social trust and regain the support of their target audience. Leaders can put effort into understanding the perspective of their core consumers and work to empathize with their experience. This can help leaders develop better sustainable business practices consumers most want and need.
Sustainability should not be a passing fad for a corporation. For sustainable practices to make a positive impact, leaders need to integrate sustainability into the company’s core values. Leadership should determine what sustainability means to them and their organization; they might work alongside their teams to develop new mission statements that involve the importance of sustainability. When an entire business is committed to achieving greater sustainability, strategies are more likely to be successful.
Businesses will likely need to alter their existing policies and practices to achieve sustainability. Business leaders can learn more about developing new strategies and managing green teams with a business sustainability management online course; however, sustainable innovation should come from every level of an organization. Product development, marketing and sales, tech services and more should find ways to adhere to a business’s new goal of sustainability.
While environmental practices are a significant element of business sustainability, businesses also need to consider their social and economic impacts. However, when leaders share near-identical backgrounds and experiences, it can be difficult for them to have varied insight on different lifestyles within their workforce and consumer audience. Thus, businesses should strive to diversify their leadership team, adding perspectives from different gender, race, and socioeconomic backgrounds to give businesses more authority to develop sustainable and inclusive strategies.
Sustainable strategies should be able to adapt to shifting business and consumer needs. In other words, leaders need to seek constant improvement in their business practices for their strategic initiatives to remain sustainable over the long term. Transparency can help leaders achieve consistent improvement; providing employees and customers with in-depth information about product sourcing, manufacturing processes, labor practices and other aspects of business operation drives leaders to ensure those aspects are as sustainable as possible.
In the race to sustainability, a business’s competitors can become its collaborators. Industry leaders compel their competition to innovate in comparable ways to remain competitive; thus, when a major corporation publicly commits to more sustainable practices, other members of that sector are likely to follow suit. Business leaders might get ahead of this industry-wide shift by partnering with like-minded leaders in competing organizations to make more coordinated and thus more impactful changes on the environment and community.
Business leaders with an eye toward the horizon need to develop plans for achieving sustainability today. With sustainability as a driving principle behind the business strategy, business leaders can invest in research, innovation, and talent to ensure a positive, productive, and profitable legacy into the future.