Success and sustainability, two words that have become synonymous with each other when evaluating the performance of a business. It has become non-negotiable for businesses in 2023 to build sustainability into their operations, whether it is a start-up or an established corporation. But what exactly does this success look like?
Success for a sustainable business is measured across various key elements such as financial performance, environmental impact, and social impact. A sustainable business should be able to generate revenue and profits while minimising negative impacts on the environment and society. Additionally, a sustainable business should be able to adapt to changing circumstances and continue to operate in an environmentally and socially responsible manner over the long-term.
We have worked alongside promising startups and founders looking to readdress some of the world's greatest environmental issues. So we have broken down exactly what that success looks like in tangible practice.
- A clearly defined mission statement
A good mission statement is an inspiration and a guide for the company's actions, it should be communicated and lived by all members of the organisation and should be regularly reviewed and updated as needed. Here are some key elements that are usually included in a mission statement:
- Purpose: This element should clearly state the reason for the company's existence, such as its products or services, and the benefits they provide to customers.
- Values: This element should clearly state the company's core values, such as integrity, innovation, or sustainability, and how they guide the company's behaviour.
- Goals: This element should clearly state the company's short-term and long-term goals, such as increasing market share, improving customer satisfaction, or reducing environmental impact.
- Audience: This element should clearly state who the company serves, such as customers, employees, or stakeholders.
When creating a mission statement, it is important to involve all members of the organisation in the process, to ensure that the statement reflects the company's culture and values, and that it is meaningful and motivating for all employees. It's also good to keep it short, simple, and easy to remember.
- Engaged employees
Communicate effectively: Regularly communicate with employees, keep them informed about company goals, and listen to their feedback. Empower employees by giving employees autonomy and ownership over their work and give them opportunities to make decisions that affect their work. Also allowing flexible work arrangements, such as remote work, flexible hours, and time off when needed. It’s all about providing a sense of purpose, clearly convey the company's mission, vision and values, and how each employee's role contributes to achieving these goals.
Transparency, an emerging theme for 2023. In a business it typically refers to being open and honest in communication and actions, as well as being accountable for decisions and their outcomes. This can manifest in a variety of ways, such as being transparent about company policies and decision-making processes, providing clear and accurate financial reporting, being open to feedback and concerns from employees and stakeholders, and being willing to admit mistakes and take responsibility for them. It also includes being transparent about how data is collected, used and shared with third parties in accordance with data privacy laws. Conveying this information through annual reports, company handbooks and general day-to-day communication is essential.
- Integrating Environmental Sustainability with Core Business Strategy
Sustainability is described as the ‘ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level’ and ‘avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.’ Setting concrete sustainability goals and targets is essential. This can include reducing the company's environmental footprint, increasing the use of renewable energy, and implementing sustainable practices in the supply chain. Investing in sustainable technology and innovation: This can include investing in research and development to improve the sustainability of products and services, as well as implementing new technologies that reduce the company's environmental impact.
- Meaningful collaborations and partnerships
The key word here is meaningful. Create shared value by collaborating with companies that can help amplify the sustainability message and advocate for policy changes that support sustainable business practices. Collaborations and partnerships can help businesses comply with laws and regulations that require them to work with others on environmental and sustainability issues. It can provide guidance and create a less steep learning curve when trying to build a sustainable business from scratch.
Is there anything you think we missed? Leave a comment below and let us know some of the ways that you evaluate success for a business, especially one operating under a sustainability-centred mission.