Ensuring Business Sustainability in 5 Steps
Business Sustainability is a phrase that is often highlighted and becomes the main discussion point across businesses (corporate to the solo entrepreneur), government, educational institutions, and nonprofits, but what does it actually mean and how can sustainability be ensured?
Sustainability fundamentally means to keep the action or process going, be upheld or confirmed. The focus primarily being one of managing consistency. Therefore, the focus for business sustainability lies in the management of:
- Financial responsibility
- Social and environmental risk
- Industrial competition and innovation
- Business obligations and opportunities
A great CEO, president, and leader cannot be the sole catalyst to ensure business sustainability. Please do not misconstrue this to mean they do not have a large impact and responsibility, but rather to say business sustainability requires an entire team’s effort and dedication to ensure continual growth, innovation, and results. Effective and lasting business sustainability can only be reached when these five components are collectively achieved:
- Organizational Identity
- Quality Action Plans
- Staff Development
- Organizational Training
- Employment Pipeline
1. ORGANIZATIONAL IDENTITY
Let’s start by defining the importance of organizational identity for the purpose of business sustainability. Organizational identity, often times referred to as “the brand,” is the central concept of a business’s vision, mission, values, niche services/products, and branding. This is the idea and theme that drives all decisions, actions, and ultimately results. The primary goal is to define the organization or business’s differentiator. A differentiator explains why your industry-specific services, products, and organizational structure is different and worth having people’s money invested in. For this purpose, “invested” is used to mean both dollars being exchanged for the purchase of a product, as well as, money exchanged/given for a stake in the company and/or services. Branding is used to draw people’s attention and initiate a reaction to “want to” buy your products or services. Organizational identity becomes the first and lasting impression defining your organization or business. Therefore, making it the first element that one must properly manage and maintain to achieve continual success.
2. ACTION PLANS
There are three action plans every organization and business must properly develop and use effectively to guarantee an organization or business’s ability to advance and thrive.
First, is a fiscal plan. Without a fiscal plan, there is NO organization or business. A fiscal plan ultimately defines and creates or establishes the capital and/or funding goals and needs for an organization or business to function. A fiscal plan is simply the actions being taken to generate and manage money in both the short-term (12 months) and long-term (1 through 3-year timeframe).
Secondly, is a strategic plan. A strategic plan defines the goals, identifies the potential risks for both the internal and external processes and structure of an organization or business, as well as, ensures accountability across the management systems and personnel. The strategic plan establishes the long-term goals and actions for the business and organizations.
Finally, is the operational plan. An operational plan should always be developed after the long-term fiscal and strategic plans are defined. The reasoning is because an operational plan outlines the day-to-day to one-year responsibilities and actions required of every staff member to reach the overall fiscal and strategic goals, as well as, defines the accountability system for each employee’s position and tasks. The operational plan contains the organizational chart, individual job positions, job duties, and responsibilities necessary to reach both fiscal and systemic success.
3. STAFF DEVELOPMENT PLANS
These are not continuing educational plans, those will be explored next. Rather, a staff development plan is created, for each personnel member, to enable them to meet their career goals and to ensure the organization or business needs are being met. Staff development plans are based on each employee’s skill and ability to achieve the allocated duties, as well as, to define any performance improvements required to meet all operational goals.
4. TRAINING AND CONTINUING EDUCATION
The key to organizational and business advancement will always be the investment into every leader and team’s continual learning. Continual learning is essential for developing a better understanding of technology advancements and industry changes, but it also provides a refresh and/or possibility of instilling new abilities for each individual’s time management, communication, and leadership/management capabilities. Training and continuing education are an investment every organization and business needs to implement to ensure staff growth, advancement, and industry innovation. Team building training activities create an opportunity for a team to develop better communication and cohesion. Remember, in the end, great communication leads to new ideas, better efficiency, and increased profitability and performance.
5. EMPLOYMENT PIPELINE
The ability to create an inbound employment pipeline and an internal advancement pipeline strengthens every organization or business’s ability to evolve. The process of creating an employment pipeline begins by implementing an internship program, multigenerational workforce onboarding process, and internal mentorship/coaching program. Internships provide the opportunity for every organization and business to give exposure to developing young minds, as well as, the ability to train their potential future new hire candidates. A multigenerational workforce allows for the infusion of innovation and think-out-side the box ideas, as well as, the ability to communicate a wealth of knowledge and experiences. An added bonus, a multigenerational workforce, when structured and encouraged appropriately, leads to continual learning opportunities for every staff member. An internal mentor/coaching program stems from this dissemination of industrial knowledge and professional experience. The ability to create a strong employment pipeline across all industries will ensure the continuation of a skilled workforce.
If every organization and business approaches business sustainability with these 5 steps, they will be able to ensure a continual increase in revenue and performance potential, as well as, reduce their risk of industry stagnation or extinction by being proactive when implementing change.
Stay tuned for Connections 4 Success’s next blog on implementing the appropriate risk assessment strategy.