In this post, we want to explain why the traditional way of doing business focusing only on profit maximization is becoming obsolete and why committing to doing business focusing on sustainability is critical to continue being relevant, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses.
Sustainability can be defined in different ways. One of the most common definitions is that sustainability is the ability to meet the present’s needs without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own needs. Subsequently, doing business focusing on sustainability means generating profits mindfully, using our natural and human resources responsibly.
Sustainable businesses put the focus not just on generating profit but also on HOW that profit is generated. This new approach emphasizes responsible practices with our environment, considering carbon emissions, waste, energy, and water management. This approach also demands responsible practices with the people that are impacted by our business. With this in mind, businesses are now taking action to promote fair pay, diversity and inclusion, and social justice.
Who is pushing for sustainable businesses?
The main drivers pushing for this more conscious way of doing business are younger and committed older generations that are becoming more aware of the consequences of our actions and, sometimes, ”inactions” and are demanding accountability. Further, the adverse effects of climate change and the rising social inequalities have inspired groups of people worldwide to require new conscious practices. These groups have been educating consumers about the power of their purchases and how they can use this power to send messages to governments and businesses. As a result, a growing number of individuals are demanding a more inclusive way of capitalism, so companies that refuse to listen to this message will become obsolete.
How do we turn traditional businesses into sustainable ones?
The answer is simple. We need to think beyond our bottom line and understand HOW our businesses are affecting other people, other businesses, and the environment. All businesses affect in a certain way the environment, its employees, vendors, customers, and the community in which they operate. But understanding is not enough; we need to take action. We need to take corrective actions to generate a positive impact, or at the minimum, that our businesses don’t contribute to developing negative impact. These actions are what we call the best practices of sustainability.
At the center of these practices is to go “green,” which translates to being mindful of our environment. We hear concepts such as circularity, carbon emissions, zero-plastic, and renewable energy. For some, it may sound overwhelming, but others want to tackle all activities that harm our planet. However, if we want to look at our kids in the eye and tell them that we did everything in our power to promote a sustainable world, then we need to start acting responsibly. We suggest focusing on responsibly managing waste, water, and energy for those businesses that are just beginning to walk the path toward becoming sustainable businesses. You can download our “Guide with Tips on How to Grenn Your Business” to help you identify a series of initiatives you could implement right away with minimum to no additional cost. You can enforce simple actions in your company that will generate immediate positive results with minimum effort.
Other conscious activities are centered around the well-being of your workforce, promoting diversity and inclusion among hired employees, paying living wages; ethically sourced supply chain; offering accurate information about your products and services to your customers; designing your packaging responsibly; giving back to your community, and recycling and reusing your materials. In essence, sustainability best practices are centered around finding a balance between generating profit with caring for our planet and its people. This is what we call “the triple P approach- people, planet, profit-.”
Small businesses are even better positioned to quickly implement sustainability best practices since they have the competitive advantage of having more agile and flexible structures without larger corporations’ decision-making layers. Engaging in sustainability practices is the key to staying relevant by developing a meaningful connection with the people that your business affects the most. The results? A business that grows through expanding its positive influence and maximizes profits while acting responsibly.
Commit to healing the world and join the movement of businesses that are acting responsibly!