Corporate Social Responsibility · Marketing Strategy

Why is sustainability so seldom embedded at the early stages of a business startup?

Marie-Noëlle Keijzer Msc, Social Entrepreneur, Experienced Executive, Climate Leader.

July 14th, 2016

Why is sustainability so seldom embedded at the early stages of a business startup? 

Tom Cunniff Founder at Cunniff Consulting, B2B Brand Consultancy

July 14th, 2016

You can't think about sustainability in general until you have a business that can be sustained.

Think Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. At the outset, everything's about the bottom of the pyramid. The business has urgent physiological needs  -- build MVP or die, obtain a first customer or die, etc, all while keeping a close eye on your burn rate. Sustainability issues are way up high on the pyramid toward self-actualization. I'm not suggesting that Sustainability is unimportant -- just that a start-up faces far more urgent, life-or-death priorities at the outset.

Saravjit Singh Independent Consultant and Trainer

July 14th, 2016

Sustainability is strongly related to authentic leadership, employee involvement and standardized, easy to follow, work processes - hallmarks of organizational excellence.

If any one of the above three ingredients is weak, then we get a condition where sustainability is difficult to achieve.

Marie-Noëlle Keijzer Msc, Social Entrepreneur, Experienced Executive, Climate Leader.

July 14th, 2016

Hi Robert, I notice that startups often just focus on growing their business and when they reach a certain size, only then do companies start looking into doing good. From experience I see this as a missed opportunity to embed doing good from the start, (even if only at small scale for obvious reasons)  and make it part of the company DNA. 

Henry Pineda President at HRP Enterprises Inc

July 15th, 2016

My thought is having manufacturers design products to be returned to manufactures to be recycled. An example of this would be Iphones, which can be robotically assembled. Returned phones can then disassembled. By going to automobile manufacturers associations. The same concept would apply. The same could be done with Washers, dryers, etc. The start up could be Wall-E. lol. Will be sending you another, elevator pitch tommorrow. Hank Pineda, CIO HRP Recycling 714-244-6558

John DDPE I build powerful customer responsive organizations

July 15th, 2016

Henry, there is a whole field of DfR Design for Recycling. Very interesting stuff. BMW has integrated in this design concept. There are many. You have a solid concept, now how to differentiate. 

Jim Bowes Promoting and producing sustainable natural-media techniques

July 20th, 2016

Dear Kooveli,
This is why many sustainable companies with purpose are thriving! Tonychocolney in Amsterdam is now one of the largest chocolate companies in the Netherlands. Their chocolate is good but it is their purpose that is driving their succeed. 
Forget government and forget the big brands who talk a lot. It will be the little guys today that will be big tomorrow. Business will help change. Consumers will drive it. 
It is working it just will take time and dedication. This is where thinking profit first people and companies will fail. It's an old model in a new world. Greedy capitalism is dead. It's just no one has told the body yet. 

Shel Horowitz I help organizations thrive by building social transformation into your products, your services, and your marketing

July 22nd, 2016

It is totally possible to build a new company that is green from the get-go and also designed to be profitable. As Stan and Robert note, if you're not profitable, you go out of business and all your green initiatives are wasted. I'd say it's actually easier to bake in the commitment to a better world than to try to graft it on later, into a corporate culture that may not support it.

But I believe it's actually easier to profit if you go beyond "sustainability" to "regenerativity." Companies whose products and services don't just keep things from getting worse but actually make things better will have an easier time finding markets and becoming profitable. I explain the basics of this in my 15-minute TEDx talk, "Impossible is a Dare": my TEDx Talk, "Impossible is a Dare: Business for a Better World" http://www.ted.com/tedx/events/11809

This is the kind of consulting I specialize in.

Henry Pineda, tell us more. Maybe I can help. There are already a lot of companies building for disassembly rather than destruction at end-of-life, especially in Europe. Susan McPherson and Julie Trell, I'm on my way to check out your pages. Might be some ways we can collaborate. Jim Bowes, right as usual. Kooveli, it doesn't have to be that way AT ALL, and sooner or later, most companies will realize that sacrificing ethics is also a sacrifice of long-term profitability.

Robert Honeyman Financial Consultant at Michigan Small Business Development Center

July 14th, 2016

Can you elaborate?

David Evans Angel Investor

July 14th, 2016

The focus is simply on making the business work. As much as it may be a core belief, unless sustainability is a key part of the business model, it will be one of the first initiatives to be abandoned. Not because it's inherently bad, just because something has to give.

Katarina Miechowka Founder at Sketching Tomorrow Consulting

July 14th, 2016

Way too many businesses still think of sustainability in a generic way instead of crafting priorities based on their business strategies.The result is unfortunately often a hodgepodge of sustainability activities disconnected from the company's strategy, hence not supporting the business case.
Also, from an organisational point of view, employees need to have a clear understanding who owns sustainability (ideally all of them), how it is part of their deliverables, what measures and reward systems are in place.
I hope this helps, happy to have other points of view!