In the second part of our guide to sustainability for startups, Daniel Collins from sustainability consultancy Avieco, explains the essential elements when creating your plan.
Watch the rest of the series here:
Recognising the importance of sustainability is one thing, but embedding it into your day-to-day operations can be particularly challenging for startups. As with an overall business strategy, there is no silver bullet to sustainability, or a one size fits all approach. Every business is different, and your strategy needs to reflect that.
However, there are several simple steps you can take to ensure your strategy helps drive the business towards sustainability and also boost your bottom line.
An effective sustainability strategy entails addressing the impact your business is having on the environment, understanding stakeholder expectations, alignment with the overall business strategy, and communication throughout the organisation.
Impact areas: It's vital to address your material impact areas as a first step to reducing them. For example, with tech startups, emissions from data centres may be something you need to consider when devising a carbon footprint report.
Stakeholder expectations: As a startup you will have various stakeholders and their expectations will vary. It's important to understand and manage these expectations, deciding which need to be prioritised within your strategy.
Strategic alignment: Sustainability plans must fit with the overall business strategy. If not, there will be constant tension and a lack of commitment and resource to meeting your sustainably goals. Buy-in from senior leadership is essential as the business strategy and mission may need to change to accommodate improved sustainability.
Communication: It's imperative that the entire organisation is engaged throughout the sustainability strategy process – and this needs effective communication from Day 1. Among the most common reasons for failure of a sustainability strategy is a lack of buy in from across the organisation. Explain what you are doing and why. Seek input at all levels and share ownership.
Act early: Baking in sustainability early in the life of a startup, rather than retrofitting a later date, will help create long term value for your business. You want to add sustainability into your company's DNA. It makes it easier to make the right decisions and take a sustainable path from the outset.