Every so often, the business world embraces a new buzzword. Right now, one of those words is “sustainability.” Whether you’re just gearing up to open your doors or are expanding, you will likely be reading about sustainable practices and will be listening to media broadcasts about how to build a sustainable business.
What is sustainability and why does it matter?
At its simplest, it means thinking long-term. Sustainable businesses are ones that invest in social concerns, environmental issues, and financial strategies. Instead of focusing on the bottom line right now, these businesses are creating a better world and better business.
“Companies that embrace social and environmental sustainability can lower their costs, attract new customers, retain their best employees, and reduce their supply chain risk,” said Jennifer Woofter, president of Strategic Sustainability Consulting, a boutique firm in Lynchburg that specializes in corporate sustainability strategy. “Whether you are a small graphic design firm or a large manufacturer, sustainability efforts can pay off for every type of business.”
If you’re wondering how to build a sustainable business and inject some long-term vision into your company, start by:
1) Thinking long-term solutions and products
If your organization makes products, take a closer look at your design, materials, and manufacturing choices. You’re already working to create a quality product, but maybe you can make tweaks so that your product lasts longer. You’ll thrill your customers with the quality you offer and reduce what ends up in landfills.
2) Reducing your carbon footprint
If your company offers services rather than products, there are ways that you can reduce your impact on the environment. Use timers and programmable thermostats to reduce the energy your office uses. Digitize your files rather than wasting reams of paper.
If you manufacture a product, choose to manufacture locally rather than letting your product get made overseas, where environmental laws may be very different. Create a lean manufacturing process that reduces waste and uses less energy. Lynchburg and surrounding Virginia communities have a number of businesses offering fulfillment and manufacturing services, so you can choose from local companies that can help get your products to your customers with less energy used on transportation.
3) Giving back
Don’t overlook your employees as you try to build a sustainable business; encourage everyone on your team to give back to the community and to take part in environmental causes. Lynchburg, Virginia has many non-profits and special events so that you can get involved and make a difference as a company.
Think of creating a sustainable company as creating a gentler, kinder business that really serves as a legacy for you and your community. Sustainability isn’t just a trend and it’s not just a way of doing something good.
Learning how to build a sustainable business can potentially help you secure grants or tax benefits for your business. And, it can also help you build a company you’ll be proud of. Since so many customers now demand accountability, looking beyond your company doors can also mean attracting new customers and building loyalty with them.