The future success of your business relies on the sustainability practices you incorporate within your organization now. According to Deloitte, 97% of company heads say climate change has already impacted their business, and 79% acknowledge it is at a tipping point.
Ethical consumerism is on the rise, and the generations with increasing buying power—Millennials and Gen Zers—are conscientious consumers who are more likely to do business with a company that has sustainable policies and products. Your customers, vendors, employees, and other essential business partners care about how you run your business and how your operations impact the community as a whole.
With social responsibility becoming more important with each passing year, businesses need to find ways to practice sustainability while still maintaining operational efficiencies and driving profit.
What is sustainability in business?
Sustainability in business refers to the practice of conducting operations in a way that minimizes negative impacts on the environment, society, and the economy—both in the short and long term.
Sustainability involves a commitment to responsible resource management, ethical business practices, and a focus on long-term viability. Sustainable businesses work to reduce their carbon footprint, conserve natural resources, promote fair labor practices, and engage with their communities positively.
Embracing sustainability is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic advantage in today’s business landscape. It can lead to cost and tax savings, enhanced brand reputation, improved customer loyalty, and a resilient business model capable of adapting to changing global dynamics.
Sustainability is no longer a trend but a fundamental aspect of modern business strategy, driving innovation and fostering a more harmonious relationship between businesses and the world around them.
How to use sustainability goals to benefit your business
Setting sustainability goals that are aligned with your business strategy can come with numerous benefits.
Increase your long-term competitiveness
Setting sustainability targets that align with your long-term goals can help you remain competitive far into the future. Government regulations are increasingly focused on promoting sustainable business practices, and consumers around the world are becoming more environmentally conscious. Building sustainable business practices into your company today can help you stay profitable tomorrow.
Cultivate a mission-driven brand image
Establish your brand as a forward-thinking company by committing to a framework of ethical practices, philanthropy, and social, environmental, and corporate responsibility. Many people, especially the younger generations, say they are more likely to buy from a brand that supports a cause that’s important to them. Having a brand purpose can boost your company’s image and attract new consumers to your business.
Tap into sustainable markets
Sustainability strategies present opportunities for your business to bring in new customers, either by growing deeper into your existing market or expanding into an entirely different niche. You might even create a new niche altogether.
For example, plenty of businesses have developed sustainable alternatives for products that haven’t been historically friendly to the environment. Think about the growing popularity of paper straws over the past few years, as well as reusable metal and glass straws so people can avoid plastic.
Increase your efficiency and productivity
Prioritizing sustainability in a business is more likely to attract high-quality and committed employees with a shared purpose. Happy and satisfied workers who feel valued and connected to your brand are more productive, often leading to more effective results for your business.
Ultimately, having employees who are dedicated to your mission can boost retention, reduce overhead costs, and improve the consistency of operations.
Innovation can come as a byproduct of legal and industry regulations, with companies working to follow new policies that incentivize or enforce sustainability practices. New ideas can also develop from self-imposed goals and guidelines. Challenge your team to come up with creative ways to make your business more sustainable, and consider organizing a dedicated committee to brainstorm solutions.
Engage your employees
Employees today value companies that are inclusive and committed to their futures. Sustainable practices are important to them, but so is a healthy work-life balance. Many companies have adopted hybrid or remote work environments, which is a creative solution that helps address both goals: sustainability and work-life balance.
Another way to increase employee engagement is to encourage your team to get involved and lead green initiatives, like the sustainability committee mentioned above.
Potential challenges of sustainability in business
The benefits of sustainability in business are twofold: it’s great for the environment, and it can help your brand immensely. Build a positive reputation, attract and keep quality talent, increase customer loyalty—these are all advantages of pursuing more sustainable business practices. However, “going green” can also present some challenges.
For one, regulatory requirements can be tough to evaluate and keep track of. In this case, hiring outside experts or collaborating with your legal team might be helpful when navigating compliance protocols.
Many businesses are also wary of the financial investment required to move forward, leaving them hesitant to commit. But the upfront costs must be weighed against the long-term benefits and profits. Sometimes, getting a business line of credit or loan is necessary to move toward more sustainable solutions for your business—and the initial investment is typically worth the long-term benefits of running a more sustainable business.
Finally, it can be a problem when the internal stakeholders of your organization are misaligned. Work with your employees to develop sustainable strategies and values that benefit your company and all stakeholders. A collaborative effort can also have a real impact on improving operational procedures and driving sales, while maintaining sustainable goals over the long term.
Fund your sustainability efforts with a Bluevine Line of Credit.