Creating a business strategy that is good for the planet

Sheldon Miller, founder and CEO of Global sustainable marketsa leading global sustainable marketplace.

It is widely accepted that the climate crisis is real and is getting worse – a growing liability that could have significant adverse effects on the cost of doing business.

Just flying the sustainability flag is not enough. More companies are embracing sustainability, and those that don’t may face their own brand, market and market erosion. consumer goodwill

For many, the climate problem seems too big and complex to even know where to start. Paul Graham, the co-founder of Y Combinator, came up with a concept that he “schlep blindness”, which describes the human condition of ignoring tedious, difficult and unpleasant tasks in favor of easier routes. When it comes to startups, I think schlep blindness can easily be applied to the goals and efforts related to climate change.

My company started taking on this huge challenge last year. As a circular economy startup, we had the opportunity to start a business from scratch, and we had an ambition beyond screwing sustainability into an existing legacy business model.

When prioritizing sustainability, look inward and outward.

In the beginning, it is important that start-ups focus on sustainability. In our case, the name above our door: Global Sustainable Markets (GSM). Our focus is not only inward, by tackling the CO2 emissions of our own company, but is outward. Regardless of your industry, consider how you can look both inward and outward.

Be accurate with your data.

To measure something, it must be quantitative. Become data-driven to assess the impact of your business. Approach sustainability as you would accounting and finance. Start capturing sustainability accounting across your business – assess, address and measure your sustainability-related goals. Create a sustainability profit and loss statement and start with a solid and proven unit of measure or unit of measure.

Use a proven and conservative unit of measurement.

To track emissions, it’s important to do your research. For example, we identified operational limits for greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting and introduced the company to the BTA greenhouse gas tracking template issued by the GHG protocol in conjunction with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We also identified the risk areas of carbon emissions for the company and conducted a group exercise together with GSM management to find the risk areas for Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions

Then build a sustainability accounting and ESG framework.

Create a profit and loss statement for tracking carbon emissions. Track your business trips and calculate emissions using emission factors. Another focus for us was the establishment of a clearly defined ESG framework based on 25 criteria with a total of more than 80 KPIs. We actively participated in a number of policy-making initiatives. Identify the areas of focus that are important to you.

Prevent greenwashing: substantiate with data and support with your mission and vision.

Engineer W. Edwards Deming is often credited with saying, “Without data, you’re just someone with an opinion.” It’s important that companies don’t just fall into the trap of making unsubstantiated claims. Businesses need data and you have to work to get it. I think our success to date is partly due to our sustainability ethos. But this is not an easy journey. When we hit the road, we had to make sure we were true to our beliefs and not just greenwashing.

First formulate a mission and vision. For example, it’s up to us to create the world’s first global sustainable marketplace and a world where both profit and the planet thrive.

Next, establish your goal: why does your company exist? Get clarity about your values ​​(your culture and the shared way of doing things), then ask how you will make a difference. This is your influence. Then assess how the impact will be measured – this is the scorecard.

Start small, repeat and champion.

Sustainability is such a huge challenge; it’s easy to get overwhelmed or even not know where to start. Start small, with one initiative and build from there and repeat. I have found that doing a little much is much better than doing a lot and little. The first will shape the culture; the last one will burn everyone out. Find kindred spirits in the company to champion.

So, what have we learned from our trip?

First, sustainability seems very difficult at first, but as you work through the problems step by step, solutions emerge. Sustainability should be seen as a core part of the business and not as an unwanted evil. It must become a driving force for all decisions, embedded in the DNA of the company.

Make sure your key stakeholders can see the positive effects to help overcome schlep blindness.

Being green is often misrepresented as the cost of business. I don’t think this is right; it must be the catalyst for innovation and have a positive impact on the bottom line by tackling business waste. Start doing things you can Scale later, as Reid Hoffman would say.

Importantly, sustainability represents a structural shift that requires business transformation. I think just adjusting the current business model is no longer enough in this age of sustainability.

In the race to zero, as with any race, the hardest part is putting on the running shoes and getting out for the first run. Once outside you get in the pass. The key is to get into the race. Many other business leaders and I believe this is a race worth running, with a huge prize at the end for both business and the planet.

In my opinion, the companies that can transform and put sustainability at the heart of sustainability will not only win, they will thrive together with our planet.

Just remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?