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3 Ways To Tie Sustainability To Business Metrics

3 Ways To Tie Sustainability To Business Metrics

A survey of more than 1,500 Canadians found the percent of shoppers who plan to spend their money with sustainability-minded brands tripled in the past 5 yrs

Flip through the original business plan for the average Canadian small and medium-sized business and you’ll likely see details about when the founders expected to turn a profit, the size of the addressable market they hoped to capture and how many people they eventually expected to hire.

What you’re less likely to see are science-based targets that will be used to track their progress in fighting climate change. If they’re a brand-new business, they might not even be thinking about how large their carbon footprint might become. New SMBs are focused on powering forward, not necessarily conserving power.

There’s nothing wrong with using traditional metrics on the path to growth, but SMBs can’t afford to overlook those tied to environmental protection and sustainability.

Based on a recent survey of more than 1,500 Canadians, for example, Salesforce Canada found that the percentage of shoppers who plan to spend their money with sustainability-minded brands has tripled in the past five years.

The risk of ignoring sustainability is even higher when you think about younger Canadians who could represent the customers that grow with your company over time. Approximately a quarter, or 23% of Millennials and Gen Z Canadians said they started shopping with a brand because it openly supported a cause that mattered to them. When they don’t, the same proportion said they take their business somewhere else.

One of the challenges is that SMBs have typically been focused on metrics that seem to matter more to the bottom line. These could include monthly recurring revenue, the costs of acquiring a customer (CAC) and customer satisfaction, among others.

Some of the most common sustainability metrics, meanwhile, delve areas an SMB might not immediately consider a priority. Besides greenhouse gas emissions, sustainability metrics could range from water consumption to energy generation/consumption mix to how much waste they generate.

There might also be a temptation to think that sustainability is more of an issue for large enterprises, but that’s not true. Canada is largely made up of SMBs, so if the majority start to take action on challenges like climate change, the cumulative effect will be enormous.

Fortunately, tools like Sustainability Cloud are making it as easy for companies of every size to measure their carbon footprint and related data as they do their sales in a CRM. The bigger task is to weave sustainability into the way you do business so the link between sustainability and growth becomes clearer. Here are a few ways to start:

1. Take The Pulse Of Your People

Employees aren’t just people who work for you. They’re consumers in their own right, and they may have the same strong opinions about sustainability as your customer base.

Use employee surveys, town hall-style discussions or other feedback mechanisms to better understand how they connect sustainability to their individual sense of purpose. Explore how becoming more active on sustainability could affect their loyalty to your firm.

Replacing people represents a huge cost for SMBs, just as it does any business, And employee engagement, however you quantity it, can directly affect the quality of your customer experience.

2. Integrate Sustainability Into Your SEO

Whether they come and buy from a physical location or have items sent to their homes, most people now do at least some of their initial research into products and services online. Companies have made efforts to ensure they have all the right keywords woven into the copy on their web sites so they rank high in search engines like Google.

As you continue to develop your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, consider adding keywords that might be top of mind for sustainability-minded shoppers. After all, the importance of values the Salesforce Canada survey revealed probably means some shoppers are actively including terms like “environmentally friendly” in their searches.

Of course, you should only include those kinds of terms if you’re actually taking action on sustainability. Assuming you do, you may find having those keywords as part of your SEO strategy will lead to increases in traffic or engagement on your sites. That could mean you’re directly attracting more leads and conversions, which is a key business metric.

3. Analyze Your Sustainability Strategy’s Operational Outcomes

Being more responsible with our natural resources is the right thing to do, but it’s also often a good thing to do if you want to run a better-performing business.

Take water consumption as a simple example. Making investments to reduce water consumption might be part of a sustainability goal. If by doing so you’re also able to achieve the same or greater outcomes as business, even better. You might see greater efficiency, for instance, or even lower costs in the long run.

Reducing your expenses as well as negative impacts on the planet may be the truest definition of a “win-win” ever conceived.

Next Steps

Much like other aspects of running a business, driving sustainability isn’t the sort of work that gets finished. We can constantly improve our approach to using natural resources and limiting the damage we cause.

By making sustainability a cornerstone of your company’s practices, you’ll be making a strong statement to your team, your customers and your community as a whole. You’ll be setting a good example for your peers. And you’ll also begin to see how even the smallest organizations can use business as a platform for change.

The feeling of personal fulfillment that comes with helping to save our planet is incredible. To a certain extent, it may be the one thing that’s almost impossible to measure.

No matter where you are in your sustainability journey, you can grow your business with purpose. Check out our recent Growing with Purpose event, featuring our host Sangita Patel, ET Canada Entertainment Reporter, as she talks to leading experts about how sustainable practices can make a world of difference for your business and the planet. You’ll hear from Bina Venkataraman, Journalist and Author of the Optimist’s Telescope; Jackie Kankam, Director of Sustainability and Social Impact at DECIEM; and Patrick Flynn, VP of Sustainability at Salesforce. Watch, learn, and get inspired today.

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