Tips on how to be a sustainable business
Sustainability was a predicted trend according to Forbes in 2019, but events throughout 2020-2021 have allowed this trend to be magnified, and rise...
Being eco-aware and living a more eco, minimalist way of life is a huge part of Aloha Social Media's core values. Born in 2020, Aloha is an example of my own beliefs and values as a business owner, and it has always been a desire to create a business that mirrors just that. In fact, in light of The Great British Beach Clean week 2020 and as a beach clean organiser for the Marine Conservation Society, I celebrated by organising a local beach clean here in Poole, Dorset with a group of volunteers, little bit of radio press from BBC Radio Solent and thanks to of course, the power of Social Media. Word spread pretty fast and we received so much support before and following the event (there is a point to this story I promise). This is a prime example of how I have incorporated my interest in sustainable living to produce an ethically inspired business that supports the reuse, reduce and recycle motto. This brings me nicely onto what sustainability looks like as a business trend...
As we enter a new era of honest business, sustainability is a strategy that has and will continue to be at the forefront of both the consumers and business owners' minds.
We are not just talking about organically sourced products, sustainable items and thinking ethically when it comes to our supply chains or carbon footprints, sustainability is so much more than that: it is a mindset and a strategy that can lead your business into its own sustainable future.
To adopt this concept or check to see if you are on parr with it, I have gathered all my research to present the components that make up a 'sustainable business'. Here they are summed up in five key points on how to adopt a sustainability strategy:
1. A Sustainable Mind is A Sustainable Business
Can thinking sustainable in your personal life flow into your professional life too?
Why yes, of course it can! Our values and daily habits are manifested into other areas of our lives like our work or business. We can appreciate the value of a reusable or plastic bag for example by changing the way we look at it:
We may see that bag as an earthy investment that doesn't end up in our landfills or oceans, is reusable and means we could save 5-10p every time we need it. So if we can appreciate something that appears to be small and see the bigger, long-term picture, then surely we can merge a similar mindset into our business or work ethic - never underestimate the smallest of successes, when added up they can be pretty big successes!
Another sustainable mindset process is the self-care aspect making sure that yours and the wellbeing of others you work with or manage is sustained.
I have seen for my own eyes and experienced how burnout can shave off valuable professional development time. When I worked in a chaotic corporate London office I saw everyone rushing around me but rushing for no apparent reason or to 'look busy'. I remember thinking, "what's wrong with having time to think about the work you are doing while remaining calm and collective, that looks more productive to me". Then it happened to me!
I realised I had completely abandoned all of my personal values, self-care habits (completely the opposite to now) to the point where I would hoover down food, consistently use dry shampoo and feel exhausted a lot of the time because I 'had no time' for myself. But in fact, I did. I was just conditioned to feel like work was more important to the point where the balance was completely tipped towards work. But, this is all changing...
Most have realised particularly since working from home, that they cannot continue or return to their previous work-life and understood that they weren't really working to live, they were living to work. When did that happen, and what is the way forward?
Employers are being recognised for the unhealthy habits or spells they had their workers under, and those that did look after their teams, lo and behold their workers are happy, balanced and not without. Plus their businesses are thriving or sustaining at the very least. Not a bad outcome!
So, believe in investing in your powerful minds to continue unlocking your true potential instead of burning out for long periods at a time. Meditate, workout, draw, continue your hobbies - whatever it is, build on or maintain that sustainable mindset for a sustainable you.
2. Introduce Flexible, Tailored Services
I like this point a lot, because I have recently diluted my larger packages into more flexible, affordable micro services while maintaining the quality in what I offer; so that if we locked down again or experience something similar in the future, I'll be ready!
You too should review and adapt your services so that you always have something to offer at a price that enables your business to stay afloat during the toughest of economical times.
Alongside the term 'sustainability', I also find the word 'flexibility' coming into play a lot both online and from seeing it incorporated into businesses all around me.
Ideally we want to offer services or products ranging from the lower to the highest tier and everything in between. Whether these are products you are selling or services / packages you offer.
Ask yourself, "do I have something on offer for all budgets or size businesses? Are these potential sources of income sustainable? Is what I offer flexible and sustainable should customers or businesses I work with struggle?"
There are many more questions we can ask ourselves but these are great starting points to help analyse your current offerings vs. more sustainable solutions. See number 6. of Entrepreneur's 'Ways to Build a Sustainable Business' for extra tips on this topic!
3. Ethical Supply Chains
Suppliers are becoming increasingly pressured by consumers to source and ship goods ethically. In a world of increasingly eco-aware buyers and sellers, globally we are becoming more inclined to understand where our products are coming from and whether their purchase is part of a carbon footprint as well as the plastic involved in unnecessary packaging.
This is a positive and necessary kind of pressure because it encourages suppliers and business owners to do what consumers ask: reduce, reuse and recycle where possible.
Reducing your paper supplies, ordering in bulk and asking Amazon to reduce and even stop sending items in plastic are all fantastic ways to cut down on that carbon footprint.
Here are a couple of sneaky, sustainable tips...
If you order off ASOS, if you are returning something and you've ordered more than one item, put the other bits of plastic in with the returns parcel - be sure to open your parcels carefully so they are reusable!
4. Sustainable Work Environment & Remote Working
Working remotely and managing remote teams can be in itself, an eco-friendly way of working because you are minimising carbon footprints, saving money on office space and facilities, as well as replacing the usual paper and stationary supplies with tech tools to help unify remote working teams.
Showcasing through social media or your website that you are a digitally enhanced business can work in your favour for the more ethically aware consumer. So make it known that you have made the move from paper to digital! Plus, it shows innovation in a digitally inclined economy.
Going back to point number 2 in this blog, remote and agile working can enhance the work-life balance that workers particularly in the UK, have craved for many years with heightened anxiety, depression and exhaustion creepy up on the average worker. It doesn't necessarily mean they are working less, it means they are working harder but smarter as they are being able to choose the food they eat vs. food nearest the office and fit time in for personal and family time vs. pressures of not having these life-essentials.
The above is a huge, positive addition in promoting that sustainable mindset = a sustainable business approach that all business should and hopefully will incorporate going forward in the change movement.
5. Honest Marketing
We have arrived at Honest Marketing! My favourite subject of them all because I get to share the importance of honest, transparent and authentic marketing as we enter a new era of trust building through marketing.
From insights and industry research, I noticed people had more time in lockdown to scroll through their feeds, filter out the profiles or business accounts they liked and disliked which led to lots of businesses wondering why they had either lost or gained a substantial following since March 2020.
My personal theory also shared with social media leaders is that people have been drawn to the more real, authentic images on social media particularly on Instagram vs artwork-style posts or stock images or heavily branded content.
I have been demanding (literally) images from behind the scenes of my client's businesses such as their faces, work in action and even the equipment they use to do what they do since I noticed this change in March 2020. The difference in authentic imagery vs. stock was unmissable and it simply highlighted audience's desire to see real people, environments and processes that take place behind the scenes.
What has this got to do with sustainability in business?
Well, if you're looking to create and / or maintain your social media engagement, don't be hesitant to share real-time stories and images about you, your business and your teams where possible via stories and feeds! This will put you ahead and in good stead of the trust marketing era that is swiftly sweeping through the virtual market place.
This will help perspective customers or clients cross the bridge from the unknown to complete and utter trust and understanding in what you do, how you do it and where they can access it.
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts"
- Winston Churchill
'Sustainability' may be a trend that you hear about, but I hope this article has highlighted that it is so much more than that; it is the future of business and therefore the future of you. I want you to join the sustainability train now while the change movement is happening so you can get a head start in the new era of business sustainability.
Save & share this article to spread the good, ethical word!
Yasmin @ Aloha