Three ways to build a sustainable business

Everyone wants their business to go the distance, right? I mean, we all want long-term success from our business that delivers profitability and quality of life at the same time. So how does your business stack up when it comes to sustainability? How do you know if it’s financially sustainable? What are the benefits of being environmentally sustainable? Are you sustainable yourself?

Whether you’ve been in business for a long time or you’re just starting out, these questions and their answers are fundamental to your staying power.

Business sustainability

In a nutshell, a sustainable business needs to be able to maintain its position for the long-term. It’s much more than just doing the same thing for an extended period of time. It might mean that you’ll need to reinvent yourself or your business practice along the way. Your business will need to continually evolve and meet the needs of your audience, and it will always need to have the business purpose at the centre of everything you do.

So, let’s explore three key ways you can build business sustainability.

1. Environmentally

Embrace processes and practices that have less impact on our Earth. Environmental sustainability is no longer a “nice-to-have” extra, it’s a necessity and you need to focus on it today, not tomorrow. It used to be viewed as expensive, however it’s now very well documented that it will generate profit and continue to do so over time.

“Building sustainability into your business DNA will give you a clear path into the future.”

Paperless accounting is a great place to start. There’s no longer a need to print oodles of receipts and statements. Try cloud-based accounting and I can assure you, you’ll never look back.

2. Financially

Financial sustainability isn’t about sales, it’s about managing money and knowing how to make the right decisions so you don’t run out. Track your outgoings, know which income streams are the most profitable or have the most potential, and pay your bills on time.

It’s definitely true that an environmentally-friendly business is profitable, and it doesn’t matter what size business you are. Any practice you put in place that improves the impact on our environment will end up saving you money. Think about it this way: if we prevent physical waste, such as printing costs like ink, paper, printers etc., we improve our productivity, save money and increase profitability.

Being financially sustainable means you can see the viability long-term and you understand the steps you can take to get your business there.

3. Personally

I think it’s really important to include yourself as a sustainable asset because you have to make sure you continue to evolve in line with your business. Embrace change, be able to reinvent yourself even though it’s uncomfortable at times. Use your laser focus to build your revenue streams, then automate and outsource to manage your time. Having a work–life balance is key to personal sustainability. We can’t do everything ourselves, and we don’t have to.

Sustainability should be built into every aspect of your business. From a reusable coffee cup to cloud-based accounting, every decision should be based on its long-term effect. Building sustainability into your business DNA will give you a clear path into the future.

Rebecca Searles, Founder, Family Garden Life

This story first appeared in issue 26 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine.

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