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  • Writer's pictureCaterina Sullivan

Where do You Start in Transitioning Your SME Towards a Sustainable Model?

Updated: Nov 4, 2018

As a small business owner, you have a lot on your plate. Sustainability is not high up on the priority list, even though it is so important to your business and could assist in the economic growth of your organisation.

Taking the first steps towards sustainable business practices can be overwhelming for any business owner. To assist you in getting started, here is a list of ways to begin your journey towards sustainability!

1. Define your purpose

Last week, we spoke about brand purpose and the importance of this in the transition towards sustainable business practices. By defining your brand purpose, you will be able to map this purpose and your values to a commitment to sustainability.

2. Use the Global Goals as a tool

The United Nations' 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development are a great tool to understand the topic of sustainability. Furthermore, their 169 associated targets break-down each of the areas of sustainability into what your business can commit to and achieve. Choose a few of the goals which best align to your business practices to get started.

3. Make a commitment to sustainability

To ensure your business remains accountable for your commitment to sustainability, it is a good idea to make your commitment public. This can be in the form of a document and can be sent out to your email list, posted on your website, sent in a press release to local news stations, shared on your social media or posted in your physical place of business. This commitment should outline what you are currently doing to be sustainable and what your are committed to changing in your business practices.

4. Leverage your supply chain

A great way for small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to commit to sustainability is through the supply chain. By speaking to current suppliers about your commitment to sustainability and making your suppliers aware that you will be transitioning to suppliers who adhere to certain sustainability practices, your organisation will be able to promote your commitment to sourcing a certain standard of supplier. The supply chain is a fantastic way to slowly transition your business without having to change too much about your internal practices.

5. Involve your customers

People like to feel good about the actions they take towards creating a sustainable future. Once you have begun your journey towards sustainability, you will be taking your customers on this journey as well. Ensure you involve them in the process as it will be rewarding for them to be making their own commitment to economic, social and environmental sustainability. The sense of purpose your customers will feel when making a purchase from your business is what will see them return again and again.

6. Market your commitment

Your sustainability commitment will not make an impact if it sits as a policy in a filing cabinet in the back of your office. Your commitment needs to be marketed effectively to all stakeholders. You can read a list of ways to market your sustainability commitment here.

7. Report back to your stakeholders

Your stakeholders will want to know how you are progressing towards the goals you have set to improve your sustainability practices within your organisation. Report back to your stakeholders informally every so often, in line with your current communication plan and formally once per annum. This will not only help in keeping your business accountable for your commitment but will ensure your stakeholders remain engaged in the process.

When it comes to sustainability in your business, we understand it is hard for business owners to make time. That is why we offer external consulting at affordable rates to assist you in each of these steps and provide a better understanding of sustainability and all the latest industry trends. Contact us today to find out more about our rates!

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

#corporatesocialresponsibility #sustainablystrategic

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