Sustainability is a growing movement.
From being transparent to hiring the right people, there are many ways to make your business more sustainable. — Getty Images/Rowan Jordan

A sustainable business is one where its actions and values take financial, environmental and social concerns into equal consideration. As all these factors impact decision making and planning, a sustainable business doesn’t just look toward the next quarter or fiscal year, but to several years in the future.

More businesses are implementing sustainable practices, and with good reason. According to a Nielsen study, the growth rate of various sustainable products (e.g., fair trade or carbon neutral products) was twice as much as the overall growth rate within the product category. This suggests that sustainable products are not only cropping up in more stores, but customers want the sustainable choice.

Sustainability sells, and no matter your industry, you can implement more sustainable practices to benefit both your company and the world at large.

Here are six ways to make your business more sustainable.

[Read: Sustainability Drives Food Brands to Embrace Earth-Friendly Practices]

Define a clear goal

Making your business 100% sustainable may sound ideal, but it’s a lofty goal that lacks a clear definition or steps to get there. Creating specific objectives and a plan to achieve them will help your company make the move toward sustainability more quickly. While the exact goals will vary by industry, some common ones include sourcing from local businesses and implementing virtual operations. Also, set both large company goals and individual employee goals to drive sustainability initiatives.

Build on your beliefs and passions

Even if everything else about your business changes, your core beliefs and passions can’t be taken away. Use these to guide your decisions, both large and small, and refer to them whenever in doubt. To be truly sustainable, a company’s actions must be consistent with their values. These values can even help shape your specific sustainability goals, as you define what is most important to your business.

Hiring or appointing a sustainability leader is a great way to start your company’s movement toward sustainability.

Create a value proposition

A value proposition describes what your business is and its value to others, including the problem it solves, the benefits to the customer and why it’s better than the competition. Implementing sustainable practices and marketing them to your customers can increase your company’s perceived value and drive more business.

Be flexible and proactive in the face of change

The business landscape is constantly evolving, especially with advancements in technology and social media, and changes can happen quickly depending on your industry. That’s why it’s important to be adaptable in your business strategy, as well as how you deliver value to your customers. Similarly, best practices in sustainability will continue to grow. Keeping up-to-date with these practices and making informed, decisive choices can go a long way in keeping your company on the forefront.

Hire the right people

Hiring or appointing a sustainability leader is a great way to start your company’s movement toward sustainability. This person can serve as a point person on all things sustainable and communicate goals throughout the company. If the size of your company allows, they can also lead a sustainability team. Of course, the process of sustainability doesn’t just fall on one person or team’s shoulders. Your entire staff, from the top down, should be on board and actively practice your company’s mission.

Be transparent

Sustainability is meaningless if you aren’t transparent with your customers about all matters. People should know what your products contain and how they are made, as well as the impact of your business on the environment or community. Transparency is also important when it comes to financial reporting — customers and investors will likely want to know how their money is being spent.

[Read: How Three Venture-Backed Startups Balance Growth and Profitability]

Making your business more sustainable can seem like a daunting task, especially as the sustainability movement continues to grow and evolve. However, taking these six steps are a great place to start. Making the effort to consider your company’s environmental and social impact alongside financial concerns will pay off in the long run.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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