Business sustainability has been a buzzword for years. It gets bandied about recklessly to mean anything from operational efficiency to business longevity. As a result, it’s lost its principal meaning, which, according to the Financial Times is “resiliency over time – businesses that can survive shocks because they are intimately connected to healthy economic, social and environmental systems”.

Business sustainability can also be defined as a combination of policies and business practices that support the triple bottom line – people, profit and planet. It is now more important than ever for businesses to aim for sustainable growth and development. But how can they do this? There is no blueprint, but the following pointers go a long way to building a firm foundation for a business to grow sustainably.

What is your purpose?

A creed, belief, value system or purpose is essential for any business. It’s why you do what you do. Establishing the purpose of your business gives it a clear direction that can be used to inform the hiring procedures, organisational structure and financial management of your business, among others. Many businesses summarise their purpose in their vision and mission statements. But there are no rules. Your purpose can be written in one word or across several pages. The important thing is to have one.

Maximise partnerships and collaborations

There’s a strong temptation to do everything yourself when you build a business from the ground up. This is understandable, but far from practical. You need the help of others to build a business and that business needs other businesses to achieve sustainability. When it comes to business sustainability, the smartest decision you can make is to align yourself with other businesses and cultivate valuable, long-lasting partnerships. This multiplies your resources for corporate social responsibility projects and gives you a supply chain built on mutually beneficial business relationships.

Implement smart workplace policies

Times change but, oddly, workplace policies don’t evolve as often as they should. Intelligent and adaptable workplace policies are an asset when you aim for business sustainability. For one thing, they keep your business agile enough to respond to shifting paradigms. Additionally, they serve all stakeholders, including you, your staff and your patrons. Workplace policies that are all the rage now include blended workforces, broader employee wellness and upskill programmes.

Communicate your sustainability goals

Everyone in the business should have a comprehensive and clear idea of your business sustainability goals. The same way in which your business’ purpose infiltrates every process, so should your sustainability goals be communicated throughout. It’s simple: when everyone is on the same page, your business is capable of achieving and maintaining those goals easily. And every time the goals change, communicate this to your staff.

Focus on customer retention

Businesses in the hospitality industry are always trying to woo new customers. The logic is that people patronise a hospitality business less frequently than businesses in other industries. People might only dine at their favourite restaurant once a month or stay at their favourite hotel once a year, but there’s something to be said about focusing on customer retention as much as focusing on customer acquisition. By keeping loyal patrons satisfied, you turn them into evangelists for your business who will market your establishment to anyone who will listen. It’s a case of two birds, one stone.