by Liz Futch, Chief Impact Officer at Summit Sustainability Inc
The ringing in of a new year brings new beginnings, new goals and excitement for the possibilities that the year offers. In 2020, we are not only in a new year but in a new decade. Have you set your business goals for the year? What about for the decade?
2030 seems far away but yet will come very fast. Will your business endure the decade? The answer is yes, if you plan for it. Continuing to survive the long term requires a look at not only at financials but also social and environmental impacts.
I am talking about a plan for the endurance of your business, commonly known as a Sustainability Plan. It seems like an overwhelming task, planning 10, 20 even 50 years out. But, if you incorporate all the areas where your business makes an impact or is impacted, you can mitigate business risks, build resilience and create opportunities.
Here are a few exercises to help you start building a sustainability plan:
- Write down your vision for the business in year 2030.
- Make a list of all of your current inputs and outputs: What are your inputs (resources, human-power, financials) and what are the outputs (products, services, waste, emissions)? A good place to start is listing out all the ways your business spends money.
- Make a list of all of your stakeholders (those people and groups whom your business impacts or whom impact your business).
- Of those 2 lists, do you see any risks? Look for such things as supplies impacted by climate change or struggles to find talented labor.
- List out opportunities to be explored. Look for such things as a waste that can be reused or a less hazardous supply material.
- Build a planning team. Your employees are your greatest asset. Building a planning team fosters idea creation and greater success with problem solving. Even as a sole proprietor, you can build a team with friends and mentors.
- With your long-term vision as the goal and your team as your partners, you can fill in the blanks on how to mitigate each risk and create each opportunity. What will you do this year to address each item? What are the steps you need to take this month, this quarter to put ideas in motion? What items are the most pressing to deal with this year or the next 5 years?
Sustainability planning involves financial, social and environmental impacts. Including all three in your long-term plans is the key to success. I hope this helps you start your sustainability plan so your business can endure and succeed for the next decade and beyond.
Learn about sustainability planning at NCET’s Biz Café on January 15th. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. More info at www.NCETcafe.org.
Liz Futch is Chief Impact Officer at Summit Sustainability Inc. Learn more about sustainability in business at www.summit-sustainability.com.