Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Here today, not gone tomorrow

What is sustainable entrepreneurship and why should we care?

We live in a super fast-paced world with an insane amount of competition, stresses, and strains. It is as easy as falling out of a tree to get caught up in the madness. How to be a millionaire in ten weeks. If your dreams do not scare you, it is not big enough. Successful people drive the best cars and hang out in the trendiest restaurants.

The reality and sadness are that in most cases a life based on these seemingly uber-successful principles is almost always at the expense of something or someone. It could be at the expense of your friends and family, your relationships, the environment, and often times it is at the expense of your own sanity.

The definition of sustainable entrepreneurship

A research study done by Sarma, Attaran & Attaran titled Sustainable entrepreneurship: Factors influencing opportunity recognition and exploitation, defines sustainable entrepreneurship as follows: Sustainable entrepreneurship integrates economic, environmental, and social into a company’s goals, activities, and planning to create a long-term value for the company, its stakeholders, and broader society. 

The biggest takeaway from this fairly academic definition is the words long-term value. You or your company are not successful if it does not provide long-term value to your environment, the communities and people around you, and most of all to yourself.

Sustainable entrepreneurship and the environment

Sustainability has been around for a while. We all know the negative impact that a company’s operations can have on the environment. In fact, when you Google sustainable business, the majority of your results will be about environmental sustainability. The effect of business on the environment has come a long way, but there is still a lot of work to do. The legislation does help, but can only go as far as each individual’s will to preserve our environment.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you should be aware of the negative impact of unsustainable products in our daily lives. Yes, we can debate ad-lib whether or not we are active enough in our pursuit of sustainable products. Cutting out plastics, and replacing chemically produced products with natural ingredient products. The list goes on into infinity. We should take a minute to look at the ingredients of our facial products and see how many of the names on the list we recognize and understand. Does it look like you will have to go back to science class? This is an exercise on how far we have come or still need to go.

Sustainable entrepreneurship and our society

In essence sustainable entrepreneurship for our society focuses on the long-term well-being of those around us. We do not exist in solitude. If the immediate communities around us are not on stable footing, we and those around us have a less likely chance of being successful. This is in essence the concept of social entrepreneurship.

Investopedia defines a social entrepreneur as a person who pursues novel applications that have the potential to solve community-based problems. These individuals are willing to take on the risk and effort to create positive changes in society through their initiatives. Social entrepreneurs may believe that this practice is a way to connect you to your life’s purpose, help others find theirs, and make a difference in the world (all while eking out a living).

While most entrepreneurs are motivated by the potential to earn a profit, the profit motive does not prevent the ordinary entrepreneur from having a positive impact on society. In his book The Wealth of Nations, the economist Adam Smith explained, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest.”

The main goal of a social entrepreneur is not to earn a profit. Rather, a social entrepreneur seeks to implement widespread improvements in society. However, a social entrepreneur must still be financially savvy to succeed in his or her cause.

Sustainable entrepreneurship and our relationships

It has been said that one day when we reach the end of our lives, no one wishes that he or she could have spent more time at work. That they should have made more money to blow away or spend on fancy fast cars. I am luckily not an expert on this subject, but apparently, our biggest regrets are all about the relationships that we should have upheld.

One of the best memories that I have of my late father, was when he would get back from work in the afternoon after a day on-site to go and hit practice balls on the Reading Country Club fairway closest to our home. He would hit the balls with such precision in order for myself and my brother to catch the one ball after the other. That was before the days of driving ranges. And these golf ball-catching exercises were done before he would go out for his evening appointments either at his office, the church, or the local town business chamber. But he made the time to come home first.

Our relationships with those closest to us are after all that defines us. One day when we are old and grey or at least completely grey, we will cherish or in the absence of it, regret these moments with our loved ones.

Sustainable entrepreneurship and our own sanity

Burnout arrives like a thieve in the night. You have probably seen the warning signals but have chosen to ignore them. It builds up over time with phases of highs and lows. I have experienced it firsthand and it is not pretty. And the worst part is that you have no one to blame but yourself.

We are our own most valuable asset in our businesses and if we do not take care of ourselves on a consistent basis, our most valuable asset will morph into our biggest liability. Wealth and fame have no meaning without health. Steve Jobs is one of many who is a painful reminder of this fact. Consistent exercising, a healthy diet, a solid sleep pattern, and enough downtime are all hallmarks of our own sustainable lives. Religion can become a highly debatable subject on whether or not we should include it in our work schedule, but for me, this forms the base of my existence and my own sanity.

Sustainable entrepreneurship and the future

We at addVENTURES are passionate believers in sustainable entrepreneurship. In fact, our whole membership program is built on sustainable entrepreneurship and how we can change the business world for good. If the words above have any significance to you, we want to urge you to join our community of like-minded people.

We will be exploring the subject of sustainable entrepreneurship and all the intricacies involved in more detail going forward. If you believe you have something to add or have a question to ask, please send us a message below or get in contact with us at yes@addventures.co.za.

We would love to hear from you.

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