How sustainability benefits your bottom line
Today’s business owners have a lot to cope with. Whether it’s technology advancements, social changes, or environmental issues. Many business owners don’t place sustainability at the core of their company’s business strategy because they believe that the costs outweigh the benefits. However, focusing on sustainability can result in an increase in both business performance and the bottom line.
Societal and environmental impact is becoming much more important to people and businesses, so adopting sustainability initiatives into your business can bring rewards.
I’m not saying that focusing on sustainability is easy. It requires a long-term vision and strong leadership to create a sustainable business strategy and follow through and ensure the vision is realised and the benefits understood throughout the whole company.
How does sustainability benefit a business?
Building sustainability initiatives into your business can benefit a business in many ways. Sustainable businesses can benefit from:
- Long term cost savings.
- Increased productivity.
- Ability to comply with regulation.
- Improved brand image and competitive advantage.
- Reduce waste.
- Attract customers, employees, and investors.
- Reduce risk.
How can a business achieve sustainability?
To achieve sustainability, a business needs strong and focused leadership and to embed sustainable business practices into everyday parts of the business. Here’s some ways for business owners to guide their strategies and leaderships decisions towards a sustainable business.
1. Make sustainability part of your business strategy and mission.
As a business owner you hold the responsibility to make sustainability a deliberate focus in the business and create the strategy and vision that others understand and embed it across the business in all your business practices.
Write out your mission and strategy formerly, include the people you trust in your decision making and planning, and spend time crafting a strategy to ensure that business sustainability becomes part of your companys DNA.
2. Clear communicate your sustainability goals and vision.
Without your management team or employees being behind your vision, it will be difficult to achieve your sustainability goals. Don’t dictate this vision to your team, get them involved and have regular conversations with everyone. Having open conversations can spark brilliant ideas and peoples individual passions in environmental issues.
These conversations should begin when you are recruiting. Make your sustainability goals part of how you introduce the company and follow these through with integrating them into your reward and recognition schemes for employees.
3. Consider your customer’s needs and wants.
Sustainability should become part of all processes in your company but not at the expense of considering your customers needs. Make your drive to sustainability a positive for your customers as well. Whether it equates to better customer service, better products of better prices, understand what your customer wants and the impact that your sustainability strategy will have.
4. Reward and celebrate achieving sustainability goals.
Linking your employee reward and recognition to your sustainability goals is a great way to really embed sustainability into your company culture. Take every opportunity to celebrate success on your sustainability journey, whether it’s via individuals or company targets being reached.
What is the triple bottom line?
One way to understand your business’s sustainability efforts is using a concept known as the triple bottom line approach. The triple bottom line allows a company to measure their social and environmental impact and not just their financial performance. It’s broken down into the “Three Ps”: profit, people, and the planet.
In many companies, the company’s success is merely measured by the profit it generates. Most business decisions are made to maximise financial profitability, reduce costs, or mitigate risk. Many business leaders now focus on effecting positive change with the objective of not hampering financial performance. Achieving sustainability doesn’t mean that you must stop focusing on profit, this should still be one measure of business success, but not the only one.
The second part of the triple bottom line focuses on your business social impact. Put simply this is the focus and commitment to people. If your business is to truly embrace sustainability, then you need to also place focus toward people including customers, employees, and community members. Whether it’s encouraging volunteering or forming strategic partnerships or creating a not-for-profit organisation.
Have a sustainability strategy that is clearly communicated and embedded in your company culture can increase employee loyalty, efficiency, and productivity and improve recruitment, retention, and morale.
The final part of the triple bottom line is focused on making a positive impact on the planet.
Climate change is constantly in the news and businesses have the key to driving positive change to protect the environment. This isn’t only for large companies, but small companies can make positive changes to reduce their carbon footprint, whether it’s cutting energy consumption, using ethically sourced materials, or changing transportation for distribution. Your small business can make a difference.
How can sustainability influence a business?
Creating a sustainability strategy can influence every area of a business. Whether its suppliers, materials, recruitment, staff retention or customers. Sustainability should weave into every area of your business.
Sustainability can create competitive advantage and attract new employees that share your vision. Focusing on the triple bottom line, ensures that your business and everyone involved in it benefit from your sustainability strategy.
Improving financial performance through sustainability
Many business owners believe that one can have profits or sustainability, but not both. There can be significant long term financial benefits of sustainability that are accrued from increased competitive advantage and innovation. Many companies are benefiting from significant cost savings through environmental related operational efficiencies, including using less resources, logistical savings, and minimising waste.
How important is sustainability to a companys bottom line?
There are environmental taxes, reliefs and schemes that encourage businesses to operate in a more environmentally friendly way. For example:
- Sustainability often goes hand in hand with innovation. If your business is investing in research and development , it might be eligible for R&D tax relief. R&D tax relief enables an extra deduction of 130% of the qualifying R&D costs from your taxable profit. This means that for every £1 you spend on R&D you could deduct £2.30 from taxable profits.
- Businesses can claim capital allowances when they buy energy efficient, or low or zero-carbon technology. This reduces the amount of tax they pay.
- Businesses that opt for fully electric vehicles will continue to pay incredibly low rates of company car tax for 2022/23.
- The UK Government’s Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) continues to offer a tax incentive for small businesses to install their own EV charging points via the Workplace Charging Scheme.
Creating a sustainability vision and strategy and then embedding it in your company culture by making sustainability initiatives part of your every day isn’t easy - it takes strong leadership, commitment and a focus on other areas and not profit alone. But business owners (including your competitors) are increasingly realising the power of sustainable business strategies.
Sustainability strategies can offer exciting and new opportunities for many businesses. Finding these opportunities and making a success of them takes courage and hard work. The first steps to sustainability start with the business owner and then need to extend across a whole company. But the benefits to your business in the long term can be incredible.
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