10 Opportunities That Sustainability Can Deliver

This article puts forward 10 opportunities that an organisational focus on sustainability can deliver.

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A focus on sustainability will force you to see your business as a system and force you to think critically about how things within that system interact. Let’s look at the 10 opportunities that sustainability can deliver.

1.     Opportunities to Save Money

All companies have an interest in keeping their costs under control. This is the same whether they are a publically traded behemoth, or a small and medium-sized enterprise. The great news is that an organisational focus on sustainability provides many opportunities to save money.

Companies pay for the resources that they use and dispose of. By making sustainability an organisational priority, companies can save money by using and disposing of fewer resources. Examples include:

  • Energy
  • Water
  • Waste

If your company has yet to begin its journey towards sustainability, looking for opportunities to save money within the critical tripartite of energy, water and waste is a great place to start.

2.     Opportunities to Make Money

An organisational focus on sustainability provides opportunities to make money. It takes decades to build a reputation that can be ruined in moments. However, for those interested in enhancing their brand, sustainability offers opportunities to make money.

I am minded to quote an ancient Chinese proverb. It goes as follows:

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now

The same goes for sustainability and using sustainability to make money through branding. The best time to start investing in making your brand sustainable was 20 years ago. The second best time to start investing in making your brand sustainable is now.

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When you look at the power of brands such as The Body Shop, Patagonia or Unilever, the benefits of sustainability become obvious. These organisations have demonstrated a clear organisational focus on sustainability. They use sustainability to make money and you should do the same.

3.     Opportunities to Develop Better Products

An organizational focus on sustainability requires understanding that doing nothing is not an option. Inaction has consequences. You can use sustainability within your business to develop better products.

If you are a service company, you can use sustainability to become the ethical provider of choice in your industry.

If you are a manufacturing or construction company, you can use sustainability to develop better products, which help your customer’s reduce their energy water and waste on an annual basis. Sustainability is a journey and one of its functions is to develop better products.

4.      Opportunities to Develop and Deploy New Technologies

Another opportunity accessed through sustainability is the possibility of developing and deploying new technologies.

Sustainability is about the past and the legacy of industrial societies. Sustainability is also about the present and the need to take action to correct this trajectory. But importantly sustainability is about the future.

By making sustainability an organisational priority, your business will be aligning itself with the priorities of the future. The sustainability transition will require the development and deployment of new technologies. By making sustainability an organisational priority, you can be at the forefront of the change and benefit the most.

5.     Opportunities to Get Into New Markets Early

Sustainability is a quickly quickly changing field. The opportunity to get into new markets early is a significant benefit of sustainability.

To make sure that your entry into new sustainable markets is authentic, you have to start now. The earlier you decide to make sustainability an organisational priority, the more expertise you will have and the more authentic your approach into these new markets will be.

Whether you operate in a business to business or business to consumer fashion, people are very aware and suspicious of inauthentic and cosmetic approaches towards sustainability. Begin your sustainability journey today and you will be well prepared to enter new markets in the future.

6. Opportunities to Incorporate Total Quality Management

Sustainability is becoming increasingly mainstream. In many ways sustainability could be considered as a mainstream business philosophy, in rhetoric if not in action. An indisputably mainstream business philosophy is that of total quality management. This is puzzling as in many ways they share similar aims and outcomes.

Let me explain. Sustainability is about good business, total quality management is about good business. In fact, total quality management becomes far more compelling and interesting if it contains within it a focus on sustainability targets and indicators.

So my message is this. If you already have a sustainability strategy in place, try and bring a total quality management approach to your efforts. If you already have a total quality management system in place, expand your efforts with sustainability targets and indicators. It will make your offering far more compelling.

7.     Opportunities to Develop Partnerships

The opportunity to develop strategic partnerships with other businesses is a significant benefit of sustainability.

An organisational focus on sustainability allows you to get into a deeper conversation with clients. Sustainability allows you to go beyond just talking about price, quality and delivery. It allows you to develop strategic and mutually beneficial partnerships with other businesses.

Sustainability is becoming a key part of the tender process and you should not be losing business because of a lack of sustainability credentials. Sustainability is about developing meaningful partnerships with other farsighted businesses.

8.     Opportunities to Attract the Best Talent

Businesses survive and thrive by attracting the best talent. Understanding that people are the most important asset in your business is one of the most valuable lessons a business owner can learn. Employees, especially millennials are displaying a preference for working for companies who display an authentic corporate social responsibility. This is important as the business that attracts the best talent today, will outcompete their rivals tomorrow.

Businesses should definitely take sustainability seriously for the purposes of attracting quality employees.

9.     Opportunities to Develop a Competitive Edge

All businesses need a competitive edge. Being seen as sustainable can help differentiate your business.

Sustainability is a great way to create the raving fans that all businesses say they want, but that so few manage to achieve. You can secure loyal customers who return year after year and refer masses of business your way. These customers become evangelists for your brand, safe in the knowledge that you are authentically investing in making the world a better place. Sustainability offers you the opportunity to develop a competitive edge.

10.     Opportunities to Help The Planet

Sustainability is about profit, people and the planet. We should never forget or underestimate the importance of the work being undertaken to make human societies sustainable. Much needs to change and it is changing. This is an exciting time to be working in sustainability. The opportunity to contribute positively towards helping the planet is a massive privilege and it must be done authentically.

What you need to know

This article put forward 10 opportunities that an organisational focus on sustainability can deliver. They were:

1.      Opportunities to Save Money

2.     Opportunities to Make Money

3.     Opportunities to Develop Better Products

4.     Opportunities to Develop and Deploy New Technologies

5.     Opportunities to Get Into New Markets Early

6.     Opportunities to Incorporate Total Quality Management

7.      Opportunities to Develop Partnerships

8.     Opportunities to Attract the Best Talent

9.     Opportunities to Develop a Competitive Edge

10.   Opportunities to Help The Planet

I by no means consider this list to be exhaustive. If you have any suggestions, please contact me as I would love to know your thoughts.

In closing, sustainability is a journey rather than a destination in itself. You never know what an organisational focus on sustainability can deliver. But one thing is certain, an organisational focus on sustainability is necessary and it can unlock a number of opportunities.

As value migrates towards more sustainable businesses, the opportunities that sustainability can deliver become more obvious. Don’t watch from the side, become a part of this amazing movement.

We will learn more about sustainability in subsequent posts.

Thank you for reading

By Barnaby Nash

Contact Details

Mobile: 07745 904 128

Email: barnaby.nash@gmail.com

Blog: barnabythinks.wordpress.com

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