Sustainability Makes Sense for Small Business

Market changes and economic challenges can greatly impact small business as well as create constraints that typically do not impact larger companies. So with today’s challenges creating a strategy of business sustainability is more important than ever before.

Committing to a strategy of sustainability includes a commitment to developing and growing your employees, making sure your business processes are sound, and your business is environmentally sustainable. And when all these components are in alignment, businesses report seeing some of the best results in their organization’s history.

Creating a sustainable business does not have to be difficult or require huge resources. Building a sustainable business is a process that can have huge benefits each step of the way. The two most common questions we hear from companies are:

  • What does sustainability really mean?
  • More specifically, what does sustainability mean to our company?

As with most things in business, sustainability is a process. A process, when taken step by step will not feel overwhelming and will provide results sooner as opposed to later. Sustainability in concept means the same thing to every company, but in implementation can and should be quite different. So where does an organization start?

The first step in the process is to define what sustainability means to your organization. As with any strategic initiative the overall objectives need to be defined to create purpose and guide rails for the journey.

The next step is to create a sustainability framework. A framework will help the organization take the overall objectives and get very specific about the desired reasons and outcomes. A framework will help identify how the initiative, will be structured inside the organization, and help identify task forces and cohesive teams for implementation of the plan.

The third step in the process is to identify an organization’s unique business case. How will the company benefit when this strategy is implemented? What specific projects and results will be generated based on your organizations definition of sustainability? This is the step where the rubber really meets the road. In this step an organization can clearly see how implementing a strategy of sustainability is time and effort well spent because this step identifies the ROI.

The next steps of the process really look at three things: assessment, culture, and implementation. After an organization makes the commitment to a journey of sustainability, they need to assess where they really stand. What are they doing well now and what needs to be improved? Most often the employees or contributors of an organization know the answers to those questions better than anyone. Senior leadership just needs to take the time to ask.

Business sustainability is a project that is never finished, as what you accomplish today will propel your organization successfully into the future. But the future only holds new questions. Creating a company culture of sustainability will go a long way to being prepared and ready to answer those future questions and potential challenges. Invest in your employees and the culture of your organization, as the culture you create today will drive your future success.

Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC, through their Institute for Sustainability, has specialized in helping businesses define and implement a common sense approach to sustainability while achieving high levels of excellence and results. Learn how at www.theinstituteforsustainability.com or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227.

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