How to create a killer strategy for sustainable business

By now, everyone is well aware of the climate emergency. Every person and organisation needs to take action. But where do we start?

The first step is to have a strategy for sustainable business. One that shows clear progress towards change.

Because huge numbers of people (read: your customers) now prioritise their spending based on a company’s sustainability commitments.

None of us wants to exaggerate how well we’re moving towards Net Zero and beyond. That way leads to greenwashing and a terrible reputation.

But with a good strategy for sustainability in business, we can do our part while growing our organisations too:

What is sustainability?

Sustainability is often defined as a “triple bottom line”. These are often written as the “three Ps” – profit, people, and planet.

In short, your business should act in a way that acknowledges that plans to make a profit should also factor in the goals of reducing inequality, being good for local people, and preserving the planet too.

Defining sustainability for your business

These are all laudable goals. But how do we actually do any of that?

The first and most important step is to define what sustainability looks like for your particular business:

  • What is most important? What could drive the biggest change?
  • What is necessary? Where can you not avoid taking action?
  • What is achievable? What can you actually do?

A key point is that sustainability is holistic. For instance, the suppliers you choose (and their actions) matter. Where the materials you use come from matters.

Making your products reach more people could be good. But if that availability massively increases your carbon footprint, can your local area and even the planet really afford it?

Key elements of a strategy for sustainable business

1) Training and championing

In much the same way as in your firm’s digital transformation, the most important part of becoming a sustainable business is to bring your team with you on the journey. This means training.

This is most important for your leadership team. Yet every single person at every level of your organisation has a role to play.

It’s no good you boasting about your environmental credentials when your customers regularly see your shop floor staff throwing cardboard boxes away, for example.

One of the best ways to do this is to appoint someone as your sustainability officer. This should be someone in your senior leadership (possibly you) whose voice cannot be ignored.

2) Efficiency and procurement

Efficiency savings can’t save the world alone. They do have a part to play though. We all need to make sure we are using energy, water, and materials in the most efficient way possible.

This includes making easy environment wins like switching to a renewable energy supplier, recycling, and moving to electric company vehicles as soon as possible.

Procurement is just as important though. Perhaps 66% or more of a company’s ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) footprint is the fault of the suppliers you use.

This can mean changing suppliers. Or it might mean discussing the future with existing suppliers to communicate and strategise about your goals and expectations moving forward.

This isn’t always simple. Consider the idea of procuring new, more energy-efficient office computers. Is the energy they save more than the sunk carbon cost of building the new machines?

3) Performance and measurement

Measuring how well your business is doing is the only way to know your actual sustainability performance.

This is often more difficult for smaller businesses than it is for larger global concerns like Amazon or Microsoft.

Luckily, new technologies in the shape of the Internet of Things (embedding sensors in machinery and processes) and smart meters allow things like carbon emissions and water use to be measured.

When measuring your sustainability performance:

  1. Establish metrics in key areas like water, energy, and materials use
  2. Measure your current performance
  3. Assess where to focus your efforts
  4. Choose achievable goals for improvement
  5. Constantly track your progress

Applying sustainability across the board

Viewing sustainability holistically – applying thoughts of profit, people, planet to everything your business does – is the most important lesson when aiming to become a more sustainable business.

The most common way Dial A Geek interacts with this concept is when helping organisations with their digital transformation.

Switching legacy processes to solutions like Microsoft365 and Google Workspace does away with paper systems. It delivers big efficiency savings and can also allow greater measurability.

Yet the process needs to be carefully considered and managed to ensure a transforming business achieves real, tangible benefits for its profit margin, its people, and the planet too.

Want to walk through the possibility of taking your own business into the digital sphere?

Let’s talk it over. Dial A Geek has already helped nearly 1000 businesses in and around Bristol improve their use of tech.

Reach out today for a commitment-free chat with Chief Geek Gildas Jones.