Sustainability in a post-Covid-19 world: Is your business prepared?

Ever since the coronavirus pandemic emerged, it has brought significant change. When the Industrial Revolution came into force, businesses have continuously focused on growth, profitability, and earnings per share. 

Although these metrics are still important today, there is another metric that cannot be ignored. It is sustainability. There are certain businesses that tend to be inherently sustainable. However, it is not the case for every business. The good news is that small businesses can be extremely sustainable.

Small businesses can leverage their size to adjust to changes without any hassle. It is important to note that the green movement is more important than ever before. 

Small businesses have a role to play. They have to make sure that they are sustainable in terms of their existence and environmental impact. Besides, the coronavirus pandemic has taught us about the importance of sustainability. 

Why Sustainability?

Understanding the importance of sustainability in a post-Covid-19 world is crucial. Today, customers are re-evaluating their decisions to determine what is important. As the economy experiences a downturn, consumers are rethinking everything.   

With the passage of time, factors that had been held in high regards, such as GDP and growth, are not the sole focus of business activity. These factors have been reduced by the increasing demand for sustainable business practices. Moreover, societies are demanding that we achieve a circular economy.

In the simplest of words, a circular economy is one where the end of the cycle results in the ushering of a new one. Rather than producing things and ending the cycle, a new cycle is created, which helps boost overall prosperity. 

Now, it does not mean that purely economic indicators would become irrelevant all of a sudden. For-profit businesses would continue to focus on generating profits. But, more consumers are focusing on more than profitability, especially younger consumers. 

The new generation wants to invest in businesses that help minimize environmental impact. Therefore, businesses have to follow suit if they want customers to continue buying from them. 

How Are Small Businesses Vulnerable?

When it comes to sustainability, small businesses have an easier time ensuring sustainability in comparison to big corporations. For instance, large meat producers can be sustainable by focusing on producing meat on a smaller and localized scale. However, even smaller businesses are not entirely immune. 

If we consider independently-owned cafes, consumers are not purchasing items that are packed using plastic. Thus, they would be less likely to visit a café as they believe that it would harm the environment.

As for coffee shops that allowed their customers to carry their own mug, they have been unsuccessful during Covid-19. Similarly, businesses would need to opt for environmentally friendly products. 

The issue can be addressed by cafes and restaurants by using recyclable packaging or compostable plastics that help ensure that the waterways are clean. Running a business requires you to think outside the box and come up with ideas that help satisfy customer demands. 

There is always the risk of customers deciding to avoid your business as it does not operate in a sustainable manner. Businesses should not get too comfortable if they have been around for a while.  

The younger generation, Gen Z, would be at the forefront of the fight for sustainability. As they become the core customer group, businesses will need to adopt sustainable practices to continue generating revenue. 

What Can You Do To Be Prepared?

Small businesses and big businesses alike need to invest in sustainable practices. Small businesses must take steps to ensure sustainability. According to a survey, it was found that most customers shop for sustainable products and are not willing to compromise. 

Since every business is unique, the focus on sustainability varies from business to business. Whether you intend to cut back on solid waste, convert to renewable energy sources, or cease any dumping activities, there are different ways to increase sustainability.  

  1. Reinvent Your Business Models

Moving towards a post-pandemic world comes with many risks and opportunities. Only those companies will succeed that manage to reinvent their business model to ensure greater sustainability. It would allow them to make it through the current environment and provide them with a competitive edge.

To reinvent the business model, it is important to articulate the purpose of the company and think about establishing sustainability goals & stock photos. Empower and entice your team to take initiative and work to solve environmental issues. 

By establishing a culture of sustainability, nothing is impossible. It is even possible to collaborate with competitors to solve problems like deforestation as such issues cannot be solved by a single company. Hence, businesses need to come together to bring about a change. 

2. Adopt and Highlight Sustainable Practices 

Another great way to be prepared is by adopting sustainable practices. Some great ideas include reducing your carbon footprint, getting raw material from sustainable sources, and using renewable energy. 

Moreover, investing in sustainability not only helps ensure that customers favor the business, but it is also cost-effective as the company would not get in hot water due to strict regulations in the future. 

One might think that opting for sustainable operations is costly in the short run. However, it ends up paying off in a short time. With more and more consumers becoming environmentally conscious, financial sustainability depends on the ability of the business to minimize its environmental impact. 

Most importantly, you should also highlight your sustainable practices through tasteful digital marketing campaigns. In this online-forward world, you won’t get noticed if you don’t highlight your business practices. 

3. Ensure Ethical Business Practices

Since customers are concerned about businesses following ethical practices, it is important that you ensure ethical compliance. This is possible by offering equal employment opportunities and fair pay. 

By hiring people of color and reserving a specific percentage for women, you can better meet the ethical requirements. Besides, governments are enforcing strict laws to ensure ethical business practices. Hence, it is mandatory that you comply with these laws.  

Furthermore, it is possible to create a code of conduct for minimizing harassment issues and promoting a culture where employees feel empowered. 

4. Donate for Environment Conservation

Finally, businesses can also donate to NGOs that help conserve the environment. When customers know that their money is being spent on saving the environment, they would be more likely to purchase from you. Besides, by donating, you can ensure that your philanthropic requirements are met. Therefore, donations can prove useful. 

Conclusion

Companies have a huge role to play. They need to think about their purpose in the world post-Covid-19. They can sit back and go out of business as customers switch to competitors, or they can take control and usher in a new era where sustainability trumps every other economic indicator. The future is bright for companies that renew their social license. The Covid-19 crisis has provided businesses with the perfect opportunity to review their business model in view of the Paris Climate Agreement and the SDGs. 

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