Six tips to future-proof your business

From the way we use transport, to the packaging we choose and the foods we eat, consumer behaviour is embracing sustainability across all industries. This is business for the future.
Work in the garden

To gain insight into future-proofing businesses from both consumer behaviour changes and environmental impacts, we sat down with our Product Manager of Sustainable Finance, Climate Change and Portfolio Advisor Sydney Telfer, and Head of Sustainable Finance Tom Williams.

  1. 1

    Don’t let perfection halt progress

    The pressure to be all things sustainable, all at once, can be overwhelming and make prioritisation difficult. A great first step is understanding where your industry sits and what could impact it, both now and in the future. Look at what is changing within sustainability regulations and consumer trends across your industry. Reach out to your industry body, read the environment section of your favourite news site or see the latest tips from the Sustainable Business Network.

    Once you make a list of the changes happening in your industry and at what speed, this will allow you to prioritise what action is needed first and what can happen later. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can manage sustainability risks and opportunities.

    You might start with little things like changing the way you deal with rubbish and compost, or you may introduce electronic vehicles/machinery, or sustainable packaging.

  2. 2

    What is the future of your industry?

    The external environment shapes the future of both small businesses and large organisations. Will your business be impacted by extreme weather and biodiversity loss? Or will it be impacted by a change in consumer trends, such as those opting for low-carbon lifestyles. If you’re a mechanic, will the rise in EVs mean you have less customers in the future? If you are in retail, will consumers continue to support you as they demand ethical and low carbon products?

    Both risks and opportunities lie in the changing environment. A PESTEL (Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental) assessment can provide a framework for this. Each of these factors can impact your business in the short and long term. Work out what the future of your industry is and how you can adapt.

  3. 3

    Develop a sustainable strategy that will increase your productivity

    Sustainability isn’t only critical for businesses to remain relevant and competitive, but a good strategy can also increase your productivity. Reducing your energy consumption or using renewable energy sources can reduce your costs. Eco-friendly machinery can also save energy and costs, while creating a green supply chain can increase efficiency.

    Implementing sustainability factors will not only reduce costs and increase productivity over time, but it can also attract employees. Together these things not only build a more resilient business, but also a more profitable one.

    Having a plan or framework in place can help keep your business accountable to achieve your sustainability objectives. It will also signal to your internal and external stakeholders, and potential investors, that you have identified environmental and social risks and opportunities.

  4. 4

    Understand and measure your emissions

    Consumers, investors and supply chain partners have expectations that a business is managing its emissions. Understanding and reducing your emissions is fundamental to your management plan and sustainability goals for the future. If you haven’t yet felt the pressure to manage and report on these emissions, it’s coming.

    Get ahead of the game and turn these risks into opportunities. There are plenty of organisations that can help your business measure and manage emissions, such as Cogo and Toitū.

  5. 5

    Is sustainable finance an opportunity for your business?

    The financial sector is recognising and rewarding businesses that implement environmental and social factors into their decisions, by offering preferential pricing for certain sustainability assets or initiatives.

    If your business is seeking finance, you can check to see if your business is eligible for a Green Loan or Sustainability-Linked Loan, for low emission assets and/or ESG (Environmental, social, and governance) purposes.

  6. 6

    Engage with an expert to help assess your business

    Engaging a sustainability expert can help you create a sustainability plan and help your business take action to make a positive impact.

    This can be a great way for your business to understand what regulatory drivers may impact your industry now, and in the future, and give you actions that suit your business and its complexity.

Talk to us

If you'd like more information on how sustainable finance could work for your business, get in touch with our dedicated business banking team.

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Call our business banking team on 0800 601 601, or +64 4 803 1646 if you’re calling from overseas.
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