5 steps to make sustainability profitable in a cost of living crisis

Jasper Steinhausen explains the five areas businesses must consider to turn sustainability into a business drive.

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Currently, competition is fierce in the marketplace, and everybody is looking for ways to get ahead. Sustainability can be used to get the edge over rivals to increase your sales, save money, and get happier clients and employees.

Some results materialise right away, others take time to mature. However, if you view sustainability as a technical discipline and one that is mainly a cost, not an investment, then you are missing the point. 

Being a sustainable firm presents huge potential for businesses as well as an opportunity to make the world a better place. 

Several of my clients have embraced sustainable mindset and implemented sustainable ideas that delivered immediate cost reductions as well as long-term benefits., That’s why, especially during a cost of living crisis, it is wise to focus seriously on sustainability. 

Becoming more sustainable will not only put your company in good stead for long-term success, it canl also generate new avenues for creating profit. How you approach embedding and implementing a sustainability agenda is key.

Introducing the Impact Blueprint

For businesses, sustainability and the circular economy are the chance to create business value with baked-in environmental impact. 

When times are economically unstable, a structured approach to implementing sustainability measures is the only way to ensure it becomes an integral part of improving products, services, and income streams.

The ‘Impact Blueprint’ is easy to understand, simple to use, and will deliver predictable results that can be measured both internally – on a business value scale – and externally, in terms of its impact on natural ecosystems. 

The model has five steps to follow and help businesses develop the assets they need:

  1. Mindset –  This is the foundation from which to turn sustainable ideas into a business driver. Businesses need to shift their mindset from addressing sustainability as a “nice to have” to considering it as a basis for creating new and better solutions – solutions that create business value and make the world a better place.
  2. Mission – This next step is about creating your strategically sound and unique answer to the central question “why is the world a better place because we exist?”. The simplicity of this question provides the context and guidance for all choices and communication going forward.
  3. Mapping – Here, build on the five circular economy disciplines: resource, recovery, product life extension, stable supply of resources, increased utilisation, and product as a service. The mapping exercise will take you through each of the disciplines, using them to spot opportunities to pursue. The process allows you to filter possible solutions to your most pressing problems through a sustainability lens. The end product is your roadmap for how to progress towards your mission.
  4. Movement – This step is about kickstarting your implementation to create business value with embedded environmental impact. This is the first of the ‘money-steps’, when your efforts will start creating a profit.
  5. Magnify – The second ‘money step’;  the core focus here is to shine a light on the area you have chosen to focus on (for example going carbon neutral) instead of just on your products. It will give you a broader platform to communicate from. Key is to be specific about results – data is your friend! – when you talk about your merits and achievements. Then, use the company’s mission as the broader context and the roadmap to prove that the results are not a one-off success.

Going through these steps, doing the work, and creating the necessary assets will elevate any business, not just in terms of ROI in sustainability but also the positive impact they have on the world.

Further reading:

Jasper Steinhausen profile mid shot
Jasper Steinhausen - business consultant

Jasper Steinhausen is the founder of the Business With Impact consultancy, specialising in making sustainability profitable for SMEs. He's worked with 100+ companies, from board members and leadership teams to start-ups and technical staff. He's also the author of the #1 Amazon Bestselling book ``Making Sustainability Profitable``.

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