Over the next weeks most of us will hopefully have the time to reflect on the past twelve months. For me these where busy and eventful 12 months to say the least.
2013 has been dominated by private commitments for me. The birth of my first daughter being the highlight of course. Private commitments can be very tricky to combine with the daily business demands but I think it all worked out well in 2013 given the circumstances.
In terms of business 2013 has also been challenging. The business itself is going well after having scaled down in 2012 to be ready for all eventualities in the coming years. The focus now will be on making sure 2014 will start of well and that we will be able to see the possible future projects on the horizon for 2015 and 2016.
From a sustainability point of view this year has taught me interesting sustainability business lessons as well. The main lesson was that it is not easy changing a business to be more sustainable while looking at the costs of everything you do and making sure that the turnover is stable or increasing to pay the bills on time for everyone.
My sustainability business lessons in 2013
I wanted to use the rest of the post to list more detailed sustainability business lessons from 2013.
- Lowering your environmental impact strongly correlates with scaling down: This learning became clear when we started to lower costs back in late 2012. All the “fluff” as I call it needed to go. Our environmental footprint also went down as a result. One example was color printing. For some reason several people in the office printed all paper printouts in color! This was rectified immediately and our printing costs and footprint decreased by over 30% annually in 2013.
- Trying to set up a reporting structure in busy times is very challenging: We as a business are usually very busy. This is natural to a business in my view. If you are not busy you need to change something. One of the goals in 2013 was to start with a Sustainability reporting structure. I failed to do so in 2013 I have to say. Why? We (I mostly) could not find the time to get the ball rolling. This reporting structure will obviously be one of the main goals for 2014.
- Changing people’s mindsets when business thriving is even harder than in times of decreasing business: We are in a good position from a business point of view. This is good. But one major sustainability business lesson this year was that it is much harder to convince employees and associates to change their mindset when everyone is earning enough money to keep the status quo.
- You need to set an example to initiate change: The last but very important sustainability business lesson this year was that everything in terms of change towards a more sustainable business starts with me. And only me. I learned that you need to start with yourself to make change happen. This might sound simple but believe me it isn’t. Old habits die-hard. Very much so on a personal level. A perfect example is the habit of executives to always have new IT equipment each year. Yes you need to have the equipment to fulfill your job but I started the practice in the business to not buy new PC’s and upgrade to the latest tech. I am only using old technology (laptops 2-3 years old) and decided to not buy new tech until I really need to. This is decreasing our costs and at the same is extending the use of the current equipment even if the tech is not state of the art.
These are the most important sustainability business lessons I learned this year. What about yours? Is there anything you feel like sharing?
Picture Credit: Ian Sane