The Eight Core Practices of Sustainable Entrepreneurship

by Jan 1, 2020Sustainable Entrepreneurship

I’ve learned many lessons from my years stewarding The Beer Ranch. Wisdom comes from the land itself, the plants and animals that thrive there, and from the community of farmers and the greater world they serve. After all, agriculture is the backbone of economy, and there is much to be gained if you’re tuned into it. 

Farmers talk a lot about sustainability. We talk about the decisions we make and practices we institute, taking into consideration how it affects the common good—the environment, the land, the animals, the farmer, the farm family, our industry, our community. I have similar conversations with business owners who are genuinely interested in the common good. They pay attention to how their decisions affect not just themselves and their family, but their customers, the industry, the community, and beyond. Like a farm, a business is part of a larger ecosystem and if you’re doing your homework, it’s prudent to consider that ecosystem when judging the sustainability of the business in the short as well as the long term.

Like a farm, a business is part of a larger ecosystem.

As we progress into a new decade, and the growth of new entrepreneurs intensifies (which it is predicted to do in a big way), the conversation about sustainability becomes more important than ever. And it’s essential that the resources helpful to these conversations are available to those starting and growing businesses. It’s even more critical for those entering the “gig” economy where the business and the individual are so tightly intertwined, it’s hard to distinguish where one ends and the other begins. Take for example a life coach whose business is built around her talents — there is no traditional business exit strategy available. She and the business are essentially one entity. Even when her business no longer provides services, chances are she’ll work well past retirement age. And undoubtedly she will need proceeds from the business to sustain her.

This conversation is so incredibly important that I make it my mission to bring the concept of sustainability to the entrepreneurs and communities I work with. It is deeply rooted in my love of entrepreneurship and the freedom and transformation it brings. I want my business to sustain me—to sustain my students, my clients—as far into the future as possible. And at the same time, profit the community and the world as a whole.

 

There’s lots of work to do. I’d like to challenge you to join me in eight simple, yet incredibly transformational practices to make your business, and you, more sustainable.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship Practice 1:

I am wholeheartedly connected to and living my Why.

Your Why is your ‘go juice.’ It’s your mantra, it’s the reason you get up in the morning, it’s the engine that powers your ambition and courage. It’s the thing that makes you go forward when life gets ‘hella hard’ and weighs you down. When you connect your Why with your mission and your life, you make things happen. When you have a clear connection to your Why, fear and doubt won’t steal your time and progress. So write your Why down on paper, and announce it daily. Live your Why outloud!

Sustainable Entrepreneurship Practice 2:

 

I consider that myself and my business are part of multiple ecosystems.

Neither you, nor your business, exists in separation. Layers of ecosystems impact your business (you, your family, your friendships, your partners, your industry, your community, your employees, your suppliers, your channels, etc) and are, themselves, impacted by your business, actions and decisions. Understanding that some resources are not renewable, this impact should always be considered because everything in the larger ecosystem is connected to everything else.

The concentric circle of any business ecosystem begins with self-care and awareness of how you impact ecosystems and how they impact you. It then expands to interpersonal and business relationships: are they mutually beneficial and healthy or are they counterproductive and toxic? Make it a routine practice to ask, How do I bring growth to the ecosystems I impact? and How do I cause decay to those systems? Encourage the growth and take action to heal the decay.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship Practice 3:

 

I am relentless in my pursuit of clarity.

Clarity is one of those elusive moving targets that we may never actually catch, but the closer we get to it, the better things become. The clearer you are about your Why, the more likely you are to achieve success in your purpose, your vision, your mission, and your goals. The more clearly you communicate, the more likely you get results in partnerships, sales, and relationships. The better you know yourself, your strengths, your values, your preferences, your weaknesses and your shadows, the better you will be able to manage the ecosystems around you. Clarity brings with it confidence, makes a space for creativity, and allows you the luxury to consciously make the most of your decisions with integrity. Relentlessly pursuing clarity means you never stop examining, learning, refining, trying, questioning, or connecting the pieces of the puzzle that make up the larger picture.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship Practice 4:

 

I actively practice resilience.

Being resilient takes practice. It’s a muscle needing to be stretched so that each time it’s used, it hurts less, comes easier. We practice resilience by embracing change while aware there’s a chance of failure. The key is to make a mindset shift away from “hard changes” and into well-thought-out experiments that push your boundaries. We shift from we are changing this in this way to If we do this, will this happen? and in that moment we move from a possible hard fall into the soft landing answer to a question. That simple shift looks for solutions instead of failures.

Missed opportunities, moments of failure, and change are part of life. It’s always a matter of when it happens, not if. The good news is, learning from our losses gets us one step closer to getting it right. I see what went wrong there, I wonder if I did this, would I be able to take advantage of an opportunity like this in the future. Finding wisdom in these moments are at the core of resilience.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship Practice 5:
 

I know I am not alone in my desire for sustainability and success.

Because you are part of concentric ecosystems, you’re never alone in your pursuit of sustainability and success. There are people rooting for you, sending light and love, and some even willing to pitch in a hand and help. Finding your “sustainability squad” is key to winning with your sanity intact. Seek out mentors, teachers, coaches and sponsors often and nurture your relationships with them. Some you may pay, others will come pro bono. Share your Why with them so they can energize your resilience and help clarify your purpose when waters get muddy.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship Practice 6:
 

I apply resourcefulness, creativity, innovation and integrity every day.

Being a business owner offers up an incredible number of dilemmas that need to be dealt with and/or solved. Thankfully, humans are resourceful, creative and innovative by nature. We also all want to live with integrity, even if at times we may fall a bit short of the mark. Entrepreneurship turns these simple inclinations into power tools! Put them on your toolbelt and actively seek to apply them in every task or problem you encounter.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship Practice 7:
 

I understand my wealth comes from both money and lifestyle.

Money is important but it’s not the only measure of wealth or success. It helps us be mindful of how we benchmark where we are, where we’ve been and where we want to go. In order to sustain long term, we need to connect what we receive from our business with what we do both in terms of financial success and wealth beyond money.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship Practice 8:
 

I live gratitude because I know it opens the doors to possibility.

Being thankful is cathartic in and of itself. Being grateful, however, carries beyond the individual. Gratitude opens doors we may never have found by any other path. Gratitude inspires us to pay it forward so that others can experience it too. Research shows that it has lasting effects on the brain, improving mental health and freeing us from emotional toxicity. It plays a huge role in bolstering our resilience and helping us connect with our wealth, our ecosystems, and our Why.

You are invited to get outside ...

The lessons from the ranch don't end at this blog post. There is an opportunity, if you want to explore it, to come to The Beer Ranch to work on your business. We offer single and multiple day deep-dive, mindfully driven, creative business building experiences. 750 acres, 13 miles of trails, onsite lodging, and a world outside the box of traditional business await. If this sounds intresting, let's talk. Grab an exploratory call with me now.

~ Kim