How companies can understand and benefit from sustainability
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As if the shortage of skilled workers and the corona crisis weren't enough, the Ukraine war is currently fueling commodity prices and inflation. With rising financing interest rates, digital investment targets are slipping out of sight. SMEs are therefore economically unsettled, especially as supply bottlenecks are likely to lead to further foreclosure of the global markets in the coming months. This will have a particularly severe impact on Germany as an export nation.
But so far, German SMEs have discovered economic opportunities in every crisis.
Take the climate crisis, for example: the current UN climate report from May 2022 shows why we can already expect global warming to average 1.5°C in the next four years. You don't have to be an economist to recognize that the climate crisis not only requires extreme action, but also offers enormous business potential.

Instead of just green washing, however, the core business should finally be rethought. Three steps can be defined for dealing with sustainability:


1. Gain transparency about your use of resources and your emissions. Identify your biggest environmental levers.

2. Reduce climate-damaging CO2 emissions, but also close material cycles and replace resources with sustainable alternatives.

3. Discover circular business models that enable you to serve customer needs in completely new ways. In this way, not only create economic value, but also build a resilient ecosystem that creates planetary and societal value.

Many CEOs complain they are overwhelmed by the number of new issues and the complexity of decisions. How can you address this complexity? How do you make sustainability real?

Manage your business as a whole, not through silos. See it through the eyes of a customer for whom it is a logical entity. So avoid separating organization, brand, business model, or sustainability. From your customer's perspective, your corporate identity is indivisible. Therefore, bring all those responsible for these topics in your company to the same table.

Don't just survey your current status on all four levels, but let those responsible work together to develop the potential for the coming years.

You will see how much sustainability connects all areas, from production to sales. Plan binding proof points for the next few years with a consistent innovation roadmap. Because you'll have all areas at the table to realize these milestones together. A new mission statement and strong forward momentum will be the result.


Here are our most important learnings as strategists who accompany such processes every day. Contrary to popular belief, sustainable business strategies can:


· Reduce costs through lower material, emission, disposal or energy costs
· Maximize revenues through competitive products and credible price premium
· Minimize risks through reduced commodity price, supply or regulatory dependency
· Retain customers through long-term sustainable leasing, repair or recycling relationships
· Motivate employees with clear attitudes, organizational goals and measurable effectiveness.
· Support societies through safety, fair training and payment along the supply chain.
· Regenerate Planet Earth through air and water purification, soil enhancement, and species conservation.

It is no longer a matter of having to do everything that makes money. No, what is increasingly being done is what moves us forward sustainably as responsible companies. Whether it's "cradle-to-cradle" or circular business models: Take a completely new perspective on the offering and the associated added value for your customer.
In the future, SMEs will think in terms of customer solutions instead of corporate products. After all, it has long been clear that we actually need mobility instead of cars. We want clean laundry instead of washing machines. Less is often more right. For example, we can offer customers cars or fashion that are brand-new, produced in a recycled state or already used.

To be able to define sustainable business models more precisely, we divide them into three different impact levels of sustainable circularity. You can read more about what these are and what they entail in our article on the three impact levels of sustainable circularity nachlesen.

The modern entrepreneur does not merely act for profit, but balances material, human and planetary performance. We call this new pursuit of "Useful Performance" Ultrapreneurship.


Conclusion

Become part of the solution, especially in times of crisis. Trade in an entrepreneurial way. Re-prioritize and unleash the energy in your team to make a difference together. Discover that sustainable business models are fun and profitable.


Start doing it now!

Have you read the examples of circular business models in our Blog?
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