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How do I make my business idea sustainable?

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

That’s how the concept of sustainable development can be summarized.

Economic models, financing systems, and business forms often rely on the perception of constant economic growth. To slow down climate change and create a sustainable society, we need to look at growth with new eyes. The old economic school’s notion of growth needs to be replaced with new circular, sustainable business models and ways of measurement, so that we can live sustainably with the finite resources available on our planet.

So, how can we combine entrepreneurship with doing good for our planet at the same time?

At Science Park, we believe that sustainable development of a company is the same as a long-term profitable company. A good start is to integrate sustainability into your business idea from the beginning.

And the answer to the question above is called an impact company.

Impact companies – businesses that address societal challenges

An impact company is a business that addresses one or more societal challenges through its business idea while generating economic profits.

Companies with a sustainable business model strive to minimize their negative impact and carbon footprint as much as possible. They focus on making their own operations sustainable and contributing to a more environmentally friendly future.

Impact companies, on the other hand, go a step further. Instead of just improving their own operations, they work with products and solutions that help other companies reduce their negative impact. They aim to create positive (and measurable!) societal effects. An impact company must also be scalable and profitable – this s crucial to making a lasting difference over time.

Here's how you can develop a sustainable business idea – step by step:


Identify which sustainability issues you want to make a positive contribution to

Start by considering in what areas you want to make a difference. What strengths do you have today that you can build on to scale up your positive impact?


Focus on customer needs and your offering

💡 What problem or need are you addressing, and how is it sustainable? How is your offering unique? What sets you apart from competitors, and how does your solution meet customer needs?

💜 Make customer relationships more sustainable. How can you help your customers act more sustainably?

♻️ Create more sustainable and circular distribution channels. How can you make your distribution channels more sustainable and circular? How do you communicate this to your customers?

🌏  Consider the end of the product’s lifecycle. What happens at the end of the product’s lifecycle? Can you reuse the product and still make money?

💰  Determine how you will generate revenue. How will you make money from your product or service? Are customers willing to pay extra for sustainability, and how does your sustainability focus give you a unique advantage? Can you find investors or grants to support your journey?


Identify partners and suppliers to become more sustainable

Which partners can help you create a more sustainable or circular supply chain? Are there companies you can collaborate with to establish an industrial symbiosis? What key activities do you need to undertake to enable sustainable technology and take the next step?


Assess the cost of switching to sustainable alternatives

Now, you need to compile necessary costs and investments and assess the cost of switching to more sustainable alternatives.


Evaluate the impact of your business on the environment and society

Finally, consider how your product or service affects the planet, society, economy, and your organization in the short, medium, and long term. What happens after the direct usage of your product? How can you minimize waste? Does your product cause unwanted behavior with negative consequences? Can you find ways to reduce the negative impact?

Start a Sustainability Focused Company – 8 Tips