Question from James McErlean on LinkedIn
My response: Great question! Sustainability means using a resource so that it lasts and renews, doesn’t get used up, and doesn’t have a negative impact on its environment.
For a business, this would mean that it is self-sustaining and self-renewing.
It has to make a profit.
It has to provide support for its owners and employees, and contribute to their long-term well-being.
It must generate a surplus to carry it through tough times and to provide a fund for growth.
It must provide a benefit to its community of customers; otherwise it cannot operate profitably.
It must innovate (i.e., “evolve”) in order to stay competitive and keep attracting its customers.
It must be a vehicle for the creative energies of its owners and other key people, so that it will retain their interest.
A business—especially a small business—is a reflection of the skills and passions of the entrepreneur. It is his/her vehicle to provide value to the community of customers. The more it thrives, the more people are benefitted—customers and employees and other stakeholders.
In this way, a successful business does more than just sustain itself and the resources it draws upon. It becomes an increasing source of wealth. A community of such businesses builds a strong multiplier effect throughout the community and economy.