Sustainable Business Model > X-factor of Innovation

4 January, 2023
Responsible business model

Sustainable Business Model – The X-factor of Innovation

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business world, companies are being pressured to find new and innovative ways to operate in a more sustainable manner. This not only helps to protect the environment but also makes good business sense. With the rise of socially conscious consumers and the increasing importance of corporate social responsibility, businesses are looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact and become more efficient by implementing business sustainability strategies. In this blog, we will explore the latest trends, sustainable strategies and case studies of sustainable business model innovation. Join us as we delve into the world of sustainable business and discover how companies are transforming their operations to meet the demands of the future.

Innovation is an integral part of today’s business growth. The businesses that fail to innovate lose the competition and get out. A sustainable business model is a way of operating that creates long-term value while addressing environmental and social issues, reducing the negative impact and promoting sustainable practices. Companies get motivated to use innovation as a tool to make them more sustainable. Sustainable innovation is a lot different from traditional innovation.

Why is sustainable business model innovation important?

Sustainable business model innovation is essential for companies in today’s economy as it allows them to create long-term value while addressing the pressing environmental and social issues of our time.
Importance of business sustainability models

1. Conscious Consumerism: Customers are demanding for sustainability

The demand for sustainable business is increasing due to conscious consumerism as more and more consumers are becoming aware of the environmental and social impact of their purchasing decisions. Consumers are looking for products and services that align with their values, such as sustainability, ethical sourcing, and reducing waste. This shift in consumer behavior is driving companies to adopt sustainable business practices in order to meet the demands of these consumers, who are willing to pay more for products and services that align with their values. As a result, companies are increasingly investing in sustainable business models to appeal to conscious consumers and stay competitive in the market. Additionally, governments are implementing regulations and policies to promote sustainable practices, which is further driving the demand for sustainable business.


2. Businesses committing to Net Zero targets

More and more businesses are committing to net zero targets, which involve reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible and offsetting any remaining emissions through activities such as carbon sequestration or renewable energy projects. This is a significant step towards achieving a more sustainable future and addressing the challenges of climate change.

Businesses that commit to net zero targets demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and their willingness to take responsibility for their impact on the environment. This can help to build trust and loyalty among customers, employees, and other stakeholders, and can also contribute to a company’s reputation as a socially responsible and environmentally-friendly business. Additionally, achieving net zero targets can also lead to cost savings and increased efficiency, as companies strive to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint.


Examples of governments and businesses going net-zero

  1. Microsoft: In January 2020, Microsoft announced that it had achieved its goal of becoming carbon negative and would remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits by 2030. The company committed to remove over 16 million metric tons of carbon by 2025, which is the equivalent of taking more than 3.5 million cars off the road for a year.
  2. Nestle: In 2019, Nestle announced that it would set a science-based target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2025, and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
  3. Unilever: In 2020, Unilever announced that it would set a target to become carbon positive by 2030. The company also committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and sourcing 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
  4. Government of UK: In 2019, The UK government passed a law to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, becoming the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions.
  5. Government of Canada: In 2019, Canada announced that it would set a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
  6. Government of Japan: In 2020, Japan announced that it would set a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
  7. Government of South Korea: In 2019, South Korea announced that it would set a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
  8. Government of France: In 2019, France announced that it would set a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
  9. Government of Germany: In 2019, Germany announced that it would set a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.


3. Financial benefits of a sustainable business strategy

Sustainable business models can provide financial benefits for companies in several ways. One of the most significant benefits is cost savings. For example, companies that implement energy-efficient practices or reduce waste can save money on energy and raw materials. Additionally, sustainable business models can lead to increased efficiency, as companies strive to minimize their environmental impact and operate more efficiently.

In summary, sustainable business models can provide financial benefits through cost savings, increased efficiency, customer attraction and retention, risk mitigation, and improved reputation.


4. Sustainable business strategies open up new opportunities

Sustainable business strategies open up new opportunities by creating new products and services, improving efficiency, creating partnerships and fostering innovation. Companies that specialize in sustainable agriculture could develop eco-friendly products, while implementing energy-efficient practices can reduce costs and increase productivity. Companies that prioritize sustainability in their operations may be more likely to form partnerships that share their values and mission, which can help to create new opportunities for growth and expansion. Furthermore, sustainable business strategies can also open up new opportunities for innovation and creativity as companies strive to reduce their environmental impact.


5. Sustainable businesses can attract and retain great talent

One of the most significant ways is that it aligns with the values and priorities of employees, who are increasingly looking for employers that share their commitment to sustainability. By incorporating sustainable practices into their business models, companies can demonstrate their commitment to social and environmental responsibility, which can be an important factor for many job seekers.

Another way sustainable business models can help attract and retain great talent is by providing opportunities for employee engagement and development. For example, companies that involve employees in sustainability initiatives can provide opportunities for skill-building and personal growth, which can be an important factor for many employees.

Additionally, sustainable business models can also help to create a positive work culture and a sense of purpose among employees. For example, employees who work for companies that prioritize sustainability may feel a greater sense of pride and satisfaction in their work, which can help to build a more engaged and motivated workforce.

Moreover, companies that have a sustainable business model tend to be more resilient, which can provide greater job security for employees.

Table of contents:


What is business sustainability?

Business sustainability is a holistic approach to sustainability that looks at the company’s effect on the environment, society, and economy and aims to create long-term value for all stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the wider community.

What is a sustainable business?

Sustainable companies generally focus on implementing business practices that are environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically viable. This can include things like reducing waste and emissions, using renewable energy sources, promoting fair labor practices, and investing in the local community. Sustainable companies also focus on transparency, governance and communication to ensure that their practices are in line with their values and are clear to the stakeholders.

Additionally, sustainable companies often strive to meet a certain standard or certification such as ISO 14001 for Environmental Management, ISO 26000 for Social Responsibility, LEED certification for buildings, or the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for sustainability reporting.

What is a sustainable business model?

what is a sustainable business model

A sustainable business model is a way of operating a company that takes into account the social, environmental, and economic impacts of its operations. This type of business model is designed to create long-term value for the company and its stakeholders, while also minimizing negative impacts on the environment and society.

Some examples of sustainability models include:

1. Circular economy business model: This model is based on the principles of the circular economy, which aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them, and then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of their life.

2. B Corps: B Corps are a new type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. They are certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

3. Social enterprise: A social enterprise is a business that is created to address a social or environmental issue. The company’s primary goal is to achieve a social or environmental impact rather than maximizing profits for shareholders.

4. Triple Bottom Line: This type of business model focuses on balancing economic, social, and environmental considerations in all business decisions, rather than solely focusing on financial success.

How to create sustainable business model innovation?

Sustainable Business Model Innovation Strategies

1. Exploring the sustainable and responsible business model canvas

The first step is to have broader and in-depth analysis of your business, stakeholders and society. It is about learning about the business ecosystem in detail. It encompasses knowing about the environmental and societal impact/damages that affect. You can also explore the dynamics of the ecosystem and new ways to have a balanced business model. This is also a great opportunity to be familiar with the business vulnerabilities that are opportunities in disguise to resolve issues and progress towards growth. 

  • Understand who are your key stakeholders and the societal issues that are created in the economy. 
  • Investigate business models that are currently dealing with sustainable issues at a larger scale. 
  • Explore the trends and forecast how the situation with evolve over time. This would help the innovation to stay relevant for a longer period of time. Brainstorm how can societal and environmental changes are projected over time. 
  • Explore how the business would operate at different scales. Also, exploring of the growth will affect the sustainable impact drastically or not. 
  • Looking into the gaps, risks and impact analysis. The company looks into the thought-provoking perspectives to look into.

The companies are required to listen to the shareholders and create opportunities that help to capture better inter-relations among the company, environmental issues and key stakeholders. 


2. Researching the challenges relating to the business 

It is essential to do research that reflects where the delay, rebound and tipping point are active in the system. This aspect looks more than just creating awareness – it identifies what aspects influence the changes. 

In this cycle, you can identify the opportunity spaces where the businesses can benefit financially and also holds societal values. This can also mean looking into a different business model, that can help seize the opportunity. The target is to energize the value and engage with customers in a novel way. 


3. Scaling the initiative 

The more details in the blueprint of innovation, the better it is. It is all about creating a resilient model that bridges the gaps identified in the previous steps. Here are the aspects that your sustainable innovation blueprint needs to cover: 

  • Changes in different scales of business
  • Change in differentiation 
  • Level of impact on business ecosystem 
  • Environmental and societal benefits created
  • Resonation with the firm’s objective 
  • Impact on the returns to stakeholders

Most businesses that embark on this path have experience optimising for competitiveness. They might already be aware of how crucial it is to consider their effects on the community and the environment. They are now prepared to tackle innovation for a company that maximises both business and societal value thanks to this strategy.

How to build business sustainability strategies?

Building a business sustainability strategy involves identifying and addressing the social and environmental impacts of your company’s operations, while also ensuring the long-term financial success of the business. Here are some steps that can be taken to build a business sustainability strategy:

1. Conduct a sustainability assessment: This will involve analyzing your company’s operations to identify areas where you can improve your environmental and social performance. This will also help you to understand the business risks and opportunities that are associated with sustainability.

2. Set sustainability goals and targets: Once you have identified areas for improvement, you can set specific, measurable, and achievable goals and targets to guide your sustainability efforts.

3. Develop an action plan: Create a plan that outlines the specific actions and initiatives your company will take to achieve your sustainability goals and targets. Be sure to include timelines, resources, and metrics for measuring progress.

4. Integrate sustainability into your business operations: Implement your action plan and integrate sustainable practices into your day-to-day operations. This might include things like reducing energy and water use, implementing a recycling program, or sourcing materials from sustainable suppliers.

5. Communicate and report on your sustainability efforts: Communicate your sustainability efforts to stakeholders and report on your progress. This will help to build trust and credibility with customers, investors, and other stakeholders.

It’s also important to note that sustainability strategies can vary depending on the industry and the specific challenges that a company faces. It’s essential to consult experts and seek guidance from external organizations that specialized in sustainability and corporate social responsibility. That is exactly where Imvelo can help.

Why is it important to innovate sustainably?

1. Sustainable companies attract ambitious talent that is passionate about the environment. It is recorded that a sustainable business attracts better people and devoted people. 

2. With sustainability in mind, businesses can also create more impactful patents. A sustainable orientation in the business leads to more innovation as it encourages learning from different perspectives. 

3. Companies that have sustainably innovative systems are more likely to survive through crisis, experience lower price volatility and generate more revenues without being tampered by it. 

The core requirements of a sustainable innovation

Responsible business model

1. The X factor focuses on sustainability 

The core idea of sustainable innovation is to meet the needs of the customer, without compromising or damaging the existing ecosystem. It requires the business to assess all the implications of their business at societal and environmental levels. The goal is beyond securing more profits – it is long-term thinking of investing in technologies that are good for the people and the planet. 


2. Clean systems 

When companies implement innovation – the focus is beyond the organization. It includes creating clean systems of interacting with other businesses, the environment, stakeholders, and the overall community. 


3. It should be a part of the culture 

Sustainable innovation is impossible to achieve without a lack of ambition. Sustainable innovations are more effective and successful when it’s imbibed into the culture. This motivates the company to refine and reform every aspect of the organization and builds a  healthy and thoughtful culture. 

What are the prerequisites of sustainable innovation?

The X factor of your sustainable business is a golden opportunity and is not an easy task to incorporate. 

To begin with, sustainable innovation can be formulated in three different categories 

  • Operational systems 
  • Organisational structures
  • System formulation 


Operational systems 

Sustainable innovation in operational systems can also be termed as Eco-efficiency. The objective of a sustainable operation system would be to complete things better. The end goal is to reduce the damage or any other detrimental impact on the business or society. It helps to imply streamlined systems that are quick and sustainable. 


Organisational transformation 

It is all about creating new products and services that helps to create new market. It also includes sustainable innovation in business models and services. The end result to create value that does good by innovating new ways to do good. It also leads to fundamental shift in the business’ purpose. 


System building 

System building focuses on creating products, services and business models that cannot be achieved alone. It takes the help and suggestion of the customer and society to understand the need. It creates a positive impact by also considering the betterment of society and the environment. 

Every sustainable business will have to ascertain what kind of innovation you can make sense of. There can be many ways of looking at innovation. Every business might have a unique opportunity for innovation and differs from market to market. 


1. What are 3 the components of a sustainable business model?

→ The three components of a sustainable business model are economic viability, environmental stewardship and social responsibility.


2. What defines a sustainable business?

→ A sustainable business is one that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs by balancing economic, social, and environmental considerations.


3. What are the 5 stages of sustainable business?

→ The 5 stages of sustainable business are: 1) Compliance 2) Efficiency 3) Innovation 4) Transformation 5) Regeneration


4. What are the elements of a sustainable business?

→ The elements of a sustainable business include environmental performance, social responsibility, and economic viability.


5. How do you know if a business model is sustainable?

→  A sustainable business model can be determined by evaluating the economic, social and environmental impact of the business.


6. Why is sustainability important in business?

→ Sustainability is important in business because it helps to ensure the long-term viability of the organization by balancing economic, social, and environmental considerations, and addressing issues such as climate change, resource depletion, and social inequality. Additionally, adopting sustainable practices can often lead to cost savings, improved risk management, and enhanced reputation and customer loyalty.

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