How to embrace sustainability as a startup
Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword that gives you an edge over others, it is something that should be implemented into every business. The importance of a sustainable business model should not be overlooked as you start your business journey.
At The Business Show 2023, Kaia Vincent, the owner of certified B Corportation Marketing Agency, Brevity Marketing, presented a talk titled ‘How to get on board with sustainability in 2024 – and enjoy it!’ From that talk, we have compiled some of Vincent’s top tips on how you can embrace sustainability in your business as a startup.
Know your leadership style
Understanding oneself marks the initial step towards adopting sustainability practices. Brevity Marketing encourages its clients to complete a psychometric assessment known as 'DISC', although alternative tests are available.
These assessments consist of a series of questions designed to explore deeper into a person's work habits and personality characteristics. The success or challenges that a company can face can be significantly influenced by its leader's mindset. So, recognising one's personality type and its potential connection to various approaches in integrating sustainability into a business is crucial.
Vincent commented: “Personality is key to sustainability success and Brevity has identified two camps of leaders. Missionaries and Mercenaries. It’s worth noting that we will all have traits from both sides. Some days we may act more like one than the other. But it’s important to recognise when your personality does change. Remember for sustainability to be successful we need more missionaries than mercenaries.”
A mercenary is defined as somebody who cares only about making money. Their aim is to capture wealth from the competition in a fight for the biggest portion of market share. Missionaries see business prosperity as an infinite spring with more than enough for everyone to drink. The source of that ‘spring’ is a unique vision, mission and purpose that every entrepreneur has, and every entrepreneur can use to their advantage.
It may be a surprise to some, but equality, diversity, and inclusion is of vital importance for sustainability success. Implementing EDI training is a key strategy for fostering a workplace that is more inclusive, fair, and efficient. This approach not only benefits the employees and the organisation but also contributes positively to society at large.
Post-training, both employees and leaders become more adept at identifying unconscious biases, providing necessary support to colleagues who require it, and enhancing the overall workplace culture.
Establishing clear company values is a pivotal element in a startup's journey towards sustainability. Authentic values not only aid in attracting and retaining suitable customers, employees, and stakeholders but also offer a competitive edge when raising capital investment. This advantage stems from the fact that various firms can place high importance on a company's values during investment considerations.
Vincent recommended focusing on three key words that encapsulate what your business stands for, to keep your values focused and not dilute them. These values are best discovered when collaborating with your entire team, as they may believe or identify values that, as a founder, you would not have thought about yourself.
Conducting an impact report is essential for assessing your current level of sustainability. This involves compiling a list of initiatives and projects that have already been completed and detailing what these have achieved.
An analysis like this offers a clearer perspective on existing gaps and necessary future adaptations. This exercise also provides you with the opportunity to set objectives and outline why this is so important to the business.
For tech startups aiming to achieve net zero, the journey begins with a clear understanding of their carbon footprint. This involves conducting a thorough assessment of direct and indirect emissions across their operations, including energy use, business travel, and supply chain practices. Adopting energy-efficient technologies and practices, such as cloud computing and renewable energy sources, is a crucial step.
Startups should also consider implementing sustainable product design and manufacturing processes, reducing waste and embracing circular economy principles. Engaging with stakeholders, including employees, customers, and suppliers, about sustainability goals and initiatives enhances collaboration and shared responsibility. As more of a last resort, tech startups can invest in carbon offsetting projects to balance out unavoidable emissions, while continuously monitoring and reporting their progress towards net zero to maintain transparency and accountability. Leveraging technology and innovation to create sustainable solutions not only advances their net zero ambitions but also positions them as responsible and forward-thinking players in the tech industry.
Hopefully, these tips will lead you on the way to embracing a more sustainable business model in 2024.