There is an increasing trend among companies and entrepreneurs to adopt and implement sustainable practices within their businesses. With this goal in mind, companies are changing not only their products and services, but also the foundations upon which each enterprise creates, delivers and captures value. That is, their business model.
Recent reports and studies show the importance of sustainability as a triggering factor for business-model innovation. For instance, a survey of executives and managers carried out by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in partnership with The Boston Consulting Group showed that nearly half of the respondents said their companies had changed their business models as a result of sustainability opportunities (TheGuardian.com, 2018). Additionally, according to the same study 60% of the managers and executives also consider “pursuing sustainability-related strategies necessary to be competitive”.
However, sustainability is a blurry concept. For some companies it is only related to the maintenance of a financial activity over the long-term, while for others it means being eco-friendly and concerned with broader societal issues. Finally, there is other group that go beyond and seek to better understand how they can contribute to global sustainable development through the firm’s value proposition. Examples of successful companies that have undergone through a process of fundamental changes in their business models abound and are present in all industries. Start-ups such as Solar Mosaic, re.source or LifeStraw illustrate this new reality.
Therefore, in order to take sustainability into account we should first reflect on what we mean by sustainability, especially when thinking about business model-innovation. This involves thinking about questions such as: to what extent are we committed to society? What role do we want to play in social transformation? How is our business aligned with the global Sustainability development Goals?