What is Business Sustainability?

G. Wiesen

Business sustainability can often refer to one of two different concepts that may be connected or used as isolated terms. In one sense, it often refers to the sustainability of a business in terms of growth and the development of new and repeat customers. This often deals with customer loyalty, the future of whatever industry or business a company works within, and the way a company is being run by its officers. Business sustainability can also refer to how well a business can be sustained in an ecological and global sense, with regard to the environmental impact of the company.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

In either sense of the term’s usage, business sustainability generally refers to the likelihood and ability of the company to remain productive and viable in the future. The economic sense of the term typically refers to how a company is being managed, how well customer loyalty is being retained, and the future of the industry. Customer loyalty is a vital aspect of business sustainability since it can not only create repeat business but also new business as customer satisfaction leads to “word of mouth” business growth. Many businesses use different programs and initiatives to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty to secure continued business sustainability.

Company management and industry future are both aspects of business sustainability that can be just as important as customer loyalty, if not more so. A company can make profits but not be sustainable if those funds are not being handled properly and channeled back into the company to promote growth and sustained productivity. Similarly, if the direction of an industry is changing, then a company will typically need to adapt with these changes to survive and remain relevant within the industry.

In ecological terms, business sustainability often involves the impact a business has on the environment and its use of resources. Increased sustainability can come from programs that reduce waste produced by the company, promote recycling and the use of recycled raw materials whenever possible, and avoid undue strain on the environment. Many retail businesses, for example, will use dimmed lights during hours in which fewer customers are likely to be in the store. This not only saves the company money on electric costs, but also reduces the amount of resources being used by that store.

Business sustainability in this sense is vital to businesses for two fairly different reasons. On a purely altruistic level, this type of sustainability is important because of the environmental impact of businesses on the well-being other living things. From a financial stance, a sustainable business is not only likely to have lower running costs, but is also more likely to remain a relevant business in the future. Companies that produce excessive waste and require massive amounts of raw goods are often targeted by government regulations to reduce waste, and may simply be unable to continue operating as resources eventually dwindle.

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