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15 First Steps For Building A Sustainable Organization ft Forbes Council Expert panel

The 21st century is all about sustainability. From building a resilient business model to lowering carbon footprints to waste reduction, companies have come together globally

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The 21st century is all about sustainability. From building a resilient business model to lowering carbon footprints to waste reduction, companies have come together globally to make themselves more accountable for resource use.

However, if a business intends to become sustainable, the leader must define its detailed methodology for achieving this goal. There are not enough resources for starting down a path of sustainability that doesn’t produce a viable result and then starting all over again. 

Businesses need to create their plan and stick to it. To help, 15 experts from Forbes Coaches Council suggest the best first steps that a business leader can take to ensure that their company achieves sustainability.

Photos of featured members
Members offer some important steps to ensure you’re on the right track to business sustainability.

 PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.

1. Know What Sustainability Means To You

Sustainability means different things. If sustainability is your goal the question is what does that mean to your organization? Is it social, environmental, governance, investments, etc.? Once you have honed in on the area you want to focus on, a sustainability assessment is one way to understand your starting point. You can’t do everything at once and you can make strides that align with your goals. – Natalie McVeigh , EisnerAmper

2. Seek Continuous Feedback

The best way to ensure a company is on the right track is to get feedback and more feedback and never stop getting feedback. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn what is working and can be improved upon — and what is not working so that “course corrections” can be made, including, in instances, deciding to walk away from an initiative. – Scott Friedman

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3. Work With The Right People

Build the right collaborations with the right people from the start. Hiring is as important as firing. Know the level of quality expertise and experience you are looking for. Then assemble a team that shares the same vision, mission and goals as you to create a sustainable business with a long-term vision and an equal commitment from all involved. If this process is done right, you will succeed. – Sharesz T. Wilkinson, The Speech Improvement Company


Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?


4. Build The Right Infrastructure

Often, entrepreneurs are so focused on building the business that they forget to build an infrastructure to support it. Effective processes and procedures must be developed and then communicated to the staff. The next step is to train the staff and hold them accountable to stay true to what’s been installed. Only then can the business grow sustainably. – Ed Krow, Ed Krow, LLC

5. Focus On Getting And Retaining Clients

If you don’t have clients and make revenue, you don’t have a business. Clients are the key for the business to keep going and make a real impact. In order to continuously have clients, one must not only create a highly valuable and differentiated offer solving a specific problem but also keep innovating the solution, serve existing clients extremely well and consistently communicate these aspects. – Amy Nguyen, Happiness Infinity LLC

6. Be Present In The Moment

Being present in the moment is the key to sustainable growth. Many startups fail because they lack the ability to pivot. Continuous adjustment helps maintain profit margins and streamlines how the business operates under adverse conditions. It’s the equivalent of using a traffic app during bad weather. Reacting to timely information protects your time and your money. – D Ivan Young, Dr. D Ivan Young

7. Create A Vision To Anchor Yourself

Create a vision or mission to anchor yourself and the organization. To keep a business on track, regardless of size, a mission reminds you of your “why” and maintains momentum and energy. If you have a powerful mission, others will want to help you and be inspired to support your efforts. – Krista Neher, Boot Camp Digital

8. Answer These Two Questions

One of the best pieces of advice I learned first to keep my business sustainable was to answer two questions. One would be, “Is the work or product I provide needed?” The other would be whether I enjoy doing or providing this service or product. If you can answer “yes” to both then you are off to a great start. A next-level process is to know where changes are occurring within and outside your firm. – Dan Ryan, ryan partners

9. Create Inclusive Communication

Effective communication is the lifeline of all businesses that enjoy long-term profitability and success. Creating inclusive communication protocols and practices amongst your human capital, one of the six capitals of sustainability, is a crucial step in ensuring sustainability. – Deborah Goldstein, DRIVEN Professionals

10. Properly Analyze The Data

Make sure you properly analyze the data. Having a complete understanding of who has bought from you and why is the best way to make plans going forward. Your best prospects will become clear when the data is analyzed correctly. – Donald Hatter, Donald Hatter Inc.

11. Build A Recurring Revenue Model

One of the best ways to create sustainability in your business is to establish a recurring revenue model. This is done by offering something that encourages customers to pay a set fee regularly versus for one-time services. This creates predictable revenue and allows the business greater flexibility with growth opportunities. – John Knotts, Crosscutter Enterprises

12. Observe All Costs And Margins In Detail

Observe all your costs, credits and margins in detail. Every three months, observe where you are versus where you were. What changed and can be improved? Take notes and write down new creative ways to become more efficient, and smooth your production process. – Michelle de Matheu, The Mind, Body & Soul Stylist

13. Check Your Mental Health

The first thing that I would recommend is for you to check your mental health. Yes, your mental health! Too many business owners neglect their mental health and emotional wellness. We prioritize all the hard skills needed to grow and scale but none of that matters if you are not developing your mind. Research backs this up as entrepreneurs are 50% more likely to be dealing with a mental health issue. – Kurt Faustin, StressLESS Society

14. Assess And Develop Your Culture

Assess and develop the culture of the organization. An effective organizational culture more often avoids common pitfalls and increases engagement, satisfaction, productivity, and profitability over time. The organization’s operations, workplace and workforce leverage the trust, credibility, camaraderie, accountability, realizing effectiveness in solving problems and achieving goals. – Lori Harris, Harris Whitesell Consulting

15. Focus On Solving A Prevalent Problem

Ensure you are focusing on solving a problem that is prevalent, pervasive, and urgent to solve. Many businesses check the box on solving market problems, but not all problems are created equal. If your business solves a problem that is a sizable problem, existing broadly across a market, and that potential clients have urgency in solving — you’re on the right track. Everything else is secondary. – Joseph Zito, (X)form Coaching & Consulting

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Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.

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