Survival for small‒medium enterprises depends on the triple bottom line

  • Triple bottom line concepts can contribute to longevity of small‒medium enterprises (SMEs) and ultimately to profits.
  • However, sustainability factors are frequently put on the back burner due to a lack of people-power within SMEs.
  • This article outlines how SMEs can incorporate sustainable business practices as part of an enterprising and forward-looking strategy.

For smaller, unlisted companies with fewer reporting requirements, sustainability goals may seem too hard or beyond reach. However, by putting triple bottom line (TBL) concepts into practice, small‒medium enterprises (SMEs) can gain many lasting, long-term benefits.

Here, the definition of sustainability is based on the concept of the TBL for business which John Elkington conceived in his book Cannibals with Forks, in 1997. Essentially the corporate mandate is to aim for financial wealth. This can be achieved without causing harm to the environment, and by dealing with people in an honest and responsible manner. This three-pronged view that the TBL concept expounds results in mindfulness of the impact of your operations and business. This is the function of TBL thinking and reporting.

By putting TBL concepts into place, SMEs can enhance the image of their brand, broaden their customer base, gain access to new markets, secure a competitive advantage and forge stronger and more lasting relationships with employees, customers and suppliers. All of these components add to the longevity of the business and will contribute to profits.

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