Building a sustainable business model: Everything you need to know to get started
Sustainability in the business world is so much more than just being environmentally friendly. A sustainable business model is one that is better positioned to survive the lows and thrive through the highs. It is one that can weather a pandemic, one that grows and benefits economically, environmentally, and socially. There are so many ways that a sustainable business model can benefit your current company, and though you will be a long way off from being perfect, small steps will see a big impact in the future.
The benefits of being a sustainable business
Sustainable businesses have many benefits:
- Appeal to younger and more socially conscious customers
- Diversify your income stream
- Bring your supply chain close to home
- Improve the quality and value of your product or service
- Improved marketing opportunities
- Safeguard your business from future legislation
- Reduced waste
- Reduced utilities costs
A sustainable business isn’t just great for the environment; it is also better positioned to stay successful in the long term. This is both through a smarter and more innovative business model, as well as by actually working to give back to the community. Community work helps build your customer’s loyalty up. It also sets your business as a local hero and household name. Small local businesses are in the perfect position to take over and become huge successes in their local communities, but only when they become proactive members.
The challenges of being a sustainable business
They also have plenty of challenges:
- High up-front costs
- Can be difficult to achieve green certifications
- Can require a change in pricing strategies
- Will require a business overhaul
Making your business more sustainable can be a challenge, especially if you have a very narrow profit margin. Thankfully you don’t have to do it all at once. You can make small changes and use their benefits to propel you further.
For example, you can start by working to lower your utilities costs. Use the savings from there to spend time investigating and building up a new business model blueprint, then work to revamp your supply chain. There is no rule saying you absolutely must become perfect overnight. We are all making our way through this new approach to business.
How to make your business more sustainable
There are many great ways to become more sustainable, and many will be unique to where you are located, your opportunities, who you know, and your goals. Tips that can help every business type, however, include:
1. Upgrade to more energy efficient equivalent
Change out lightbulbs, upgrade your computer, invest in new fans for summer, and so on. You can tell an appliance is old and ineffective often just by touching it. If it feels hot to the touch and seems to be working double time to do a simple job, then chances are it is in due for an upgrade.
Tip: Recycle your old appliances and electronics at specialist recycling centers, or consider selling or donating them if they are still in decent condition, just a bit harsh on your energy bills.
2. Change your utilities providers
There is an increasing number of green energy providers that only source their energy from 100% renewable energy sources. The price won’t be drastically different, but if you are looking for an easy switch to make your business more sustainable, then this is it.
3. Go off the grid
A better option, however, is to get off the grid as much as you can. This is more ideal if you have a workshop or office, as stores are typically rented commercial spaces. To get off the grid, you will want to use either wind power or solar power. For most, solar solutions are the way to go.You can opt for solar panels, a solar water heater, or both. They can help you save up to $90 per month, especially if you are in a sunny state like Arizona. Remember to take advantage of any and all tax credits, which can help cut down the cost of using Tucson solar companies and allow you to enjoy a great solar solution for your business.
4. Carbon offset
Carbon offset programs will cost, but it is a great way to make your business more sustainable. You don’t even have to do it yourself necessarily. Instead, you can build the cost of carbon offset into the price of your products or services. By doing this, you and your customers can work to make the world a greener place.For that that are not sure what carbon offset is, it simply means investing in carbon-capturing activities or businesses. Tree planting is one of the most popular options.
5. Partner with sustainable business
Sustainable businesses are not islands. They need connected chains of like-minded companies. Partner with other local businesses with the same goals as yours, and share in your resources. You may be able to bring down the cost of raw materials, for example, if you all put in your order together. This can cut down the cost of items like organic cotton.
6. Adopt a circular approach to your supply chain
Another reason why you will want to partner with other sustainable businesses is to introduce circularity to your business model.
For example, you could save by buying the cuttings from one business. You could make money back by selling your cardboard to a recycling company. There are so many untapped opportunities that can help you save and start additional revenue streams just by looking outside of your own business and thinking about how you can make use of “waste.”
7. Give back to the community
Community engagement is crucial and shouldn’t only be saved to help ensure that those working along your supply chain are paid a living wage. By hosting community events, taking on interns, hosting, or supporting local charities, and more, you can build up your community. Become that household name while you help your customers live better lives through your brand and beyond.