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  • Writer's pictureCaterina Sullivan

What are the Challenges of Sustainability in Business?

Updated: Nov 4, 2018

At Strategic Sustainability Consultants, we will be the first to admit that it is not all blue skies when it comes to adopting sustainability measures in business. There are many bumps in the road along the way. It is important that each business understands the challenges presented by adopting sustainability practices before embarking on this journey.


The most important step of achieving sustainability in your business is recruiting your staff to come on board for the journey. Many people do not like change, and each business needs to be aware there may be a handful of staff who may support the idea of becoming a more economically, socially and environmentally ethical business in theory - but less so in practice. Staff training, staff surveys and individual meetings with staff can assist in getting the whole team on board! A step-by-step plan can also make those big changes seem much more manageable to team members.

Customers and Clients

It is difficult to know exactly what your clients and customers want. Even asking them can be difficult as we all know that sometimes what people say and what people do are two different things, especially when it comes to purchasing decisions. Giving your customers and clients plenty of notice about the transition is a great way to ensure they are also on board for your sustainability journey. Including them in the dialogue by giving them forums to express their opinions and provide feedback is vital for your sustainability plan.

Industry Disruption

Being the first to do something can be very beneficial but also a little nerve-wrecking. What if it doesn't quite work out? When it comes to SMEs, there are many industries around the world which have not taken up sustainable business models as of yet. This means, it is hard for the SME owner to employ best practices when it comes to their industry as 'best practices' have not yet been tried and tested. That is why seeking the assistance of specialist consultants is incredibly important in the transition to sustainability.


There is an initial cost to any change in business - from rebranding, to restructuring to a new approach to sustainability. However, there are many ways in which transitioning to sustainability can save a business money in the long-term. Consider the transition to LED lighting, an action adopted by well-known Australian companies such as National Australia Bank and ALDI Australia. While it costs money at the outset, the dollars saved in the long-term is what really counts - that and of course the positive environmental impact such a transition has. Remember that sustainability is a journey; it doesn't happen over night - and nor does the cost need to happen over night. Building a long-term strategic plan is the best way for a business to ensure that their profit margin stays healthy during the transition to sustainability. It is also important to note that there are many government subsidies and grants for businesses which choose to take the sustainable path. For instance, in March of this year, Energy Australia joined ActewAGL in Canberra to provide subsidies to eligible businesses who upgrade lighting under the ACT's Efficiency Improvement Scheme.


This is probably the most intimidating aspect of sustainability - understanding what sustainability is and the impact of each action in business. There are many different approaches to sustainability and, without an in-depth knowledge of systemic social and environmental policy development, businesses can make mistakes. For example, the one-for-one approach needs an incredibly detailed and intricate understanding and mapping of the ramifications of the utilisation of such a strategy. The one-for-one approach is where an organisation donating one unit of goods or services for the purchase of one unit of goods or services. If not deployed correctly, this can lead to greater issues in the community such as economic and employment crises, environmental impacts or increased social inequalities. At Strategic Sustainability Consultants, we work with your team to ensure there are no negative effects to any of your economic, social or environmental sustainability commitments.


While sustainability in business brings challenges, the benefits definitely outweigh any possible difficulties or temporary struggles. To get started on your sustainability commitment, contact us today to discuss your options!

This article was originally published on the Strategic Sustainability Consultants website.

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