A Practical Guide: 5 Steps Toward a More Sustainable Businesses

27 Sep 2023

In the ever-changing economic landscape, cultural and touristic businesses must adapt to new realities and align with international standards like the Green Deal and the New European Bauhaus. Sustainable product design emerges as a valuable tool to enhance the sustainability performance of SMEs and cultural entrepreneurs, emphasizing environmental values like combating climate change to foster trust among existing clients and attract new ones for an interactive and educational tourist experience.

This growing synergy between cultural creativity and development has led to numerous action plans and strategies that combine art, creativity, and sustainable development. Developing a sustainable business model is a complex endeavor that demands efficient decision-making, cost-resource analysis, and the application of an open innovation methodology throughout different stages of business development. Nevertheless, a sustainable business model helps establish environmentally responsible standards, reducing the carbon footprint across cultural, economic, and social activities. Cultural entrepreneurs and SMEs can play a pivotal role in achieving SDGs such as SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure).

This concise article outlines a Practical Guideline for incorporating more sustainable and earth-centered design principles into both established and new businesses. It highlights the creation of a sustainable action plan and its integration into various stages of business development.

Here are five steps towards developing a more sustainable business:

1. Demonstrate willingness to change. It’s very important that the company integrates sustainable development values into its mission and its vision for the organization. Therefore, the company should create a document outlining the role of sustainable values in the company’s identity, mission and planned development. To communicate these values to customers and stakeholders, it is recommended that this document should be published on the company’s webpage. Additionally, the company may wish to sign a manifesto or public declaration of some kind to further demonstrate a binding commitment to sustainability. 

2. Establish clear goals. Before you even start to write a sustainable action plan for your business, it is important to establish a clear set of goals to guide your plan. This step can help you to better understand where your company is headed, what your current situation is, and what efforts (if any) are already being made with regards to the company’s sustainable development. It can be helpful at this point to conduct a SWOT analysis of your company, or perhaps to reference the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to inform your ultimate selection of your company’s sustainability goals. 

3. Sustainable management integration. Once you have established your company’s sustainability goals, the next crucial step is to plan a set of concrete actions that will allow you to achieve these goals. Here too, you may find it useful to align your actions with the UN SDGs.  Importantly, any actions you plan should be laid out on a specific timeline. Your company’s sustainable action plan should also be holistic and integrate different departments throughout the business, from planning and resource management to infrastructure and legal/juridical teams. 

4. Evaluation and impact assessment. To determine the effectiveness of your sustainable action plan, it is important to monitor and systematically gather data about the actions taken within your company. This data should be subsequently analyzed in order to assess the impact of the company’s sustainable action plan and to evaluate the overall progress of the company. Going forward, the outcomes of this impact assessment and evaluation should inform future decision-making and next steps. 

5.Communicate outcomes. Finally, it is important to communicate the outcomes of your sustainable action plan to internal and external stakeholders to demonstrate the company’s commitment to sustainable development values and continuous self-improvement.  

By following these five steps, businesses can embark on a journey towards greater sustainability, aligning themselves with global goals while fostering innovation and positive change within their industries.