The majority of businesses today have only a superficial understanding of sustainability. However, by taking a more broader view, one can see that sustainable businesses are those whose purposes, beliefs and practices are firmly rooted in business, social and financial concerns. To achieve this type of sustainability is far from easy but keeping a few basic principles in mind will empower entrepreneurs to take the right steps towards building a sustainable future for their business, the economy and the environment at large.
- Beliefs are Key
Every business, no matter what other changes it makes, is bound by the core beliefs of their leaders. If you are unclear what is it that your business about, it will reflect in its overall performance. Take the time to articulate your beliefs on what your business is and see if your current business practices align with them. Only then make the appropriate changes to your business. A company confused about its mission will certainly not sustain itself for long.
- Roll with the Punches
Change is difficult to accept and scary. Old certainties and guidelines become irrelevant and the changing economic situation can suddenly transform your current mode of business into an obsolete relic. But responding to it and engaging with the challenges it brings will make your company cut above the others. Future entrepreneurs will look towards you as model of sustainability in tumultuous times.
- Creating Value is Key
The world is full of mediocre businesses that provide run-of-the-mill services to their unenthusiastic clients. They have no individuality, no connection to their customers’ needs and so fade out within a short period of time. Stand out by providing something that is unique in providing value to your customers. Make it something that customers and competition alike associate you with it. Apple Inc., for example, is unique for creating its distinctive design and style of IT products that no other company can match.
- Excel in one specific line of products and services
Don’t be tempted to dip your hand into any marketing fad that comes along. In the IT industry especially, startups offering new and seemingly innovative products born and become extinct in the blink of an eye. Think of your products and services as part of a bigger industry. If you focus on what you are best at, you are much more likely to become recognized as having a unique value. Microsoft Inc., for example, has lasted this long because of its focus on operating systems.
- Reinvent yourself constantly
The days when giant corporations could expect to enact the same business model and market the exact same product and expect to sustain themselves are over. In this fast changing world, customers expect their product lines to be improved in creative and inspiring ways. Keep your core beliefs in mind, and innovate your way to a sustainable future.
Most business leaders are too narrotwly focused on their bottom line to notice the broader ecosystem in which their businesses work. When one is aware of the broader context in which a his/her business operates and brings his/her practices in harmony with it, one ensures sustainability. Just as harmonizing our lifestyles with the broader environment brings environmental sustainability.