The value of mentors for entrepreneurs and new businesses is well known. Mentors have ‘walked the walk’ and can use their experience to help new businesses navigate a scary and confusing time. They also open the door to network connections and financing opportunities.
The truth is, a business can have more than one mentor. Since we live in a rapidly changing world, topical entrepreneurs can help guide companies on specific issues such as regulation, logistics, and more. As businesses shift toward sustainable energy and creating sustainable products in a more closed-loop system, it’s also time to look at the possibility of a sustainability mentor.
Moving Toward Sustainability in Business
It would be challenging for entrepreneurs to get far in their journey without having a great accountant. Contracting out to someone who understands the ins and outs of complex financial laws simply makes financial sense.
Many new business leaders don’t realize how sustainability will soon require the same expertise in building a new business. Statistics bear out the move toward renewable energy and incorporating total sustainability into the products and services offered.
Recent studies show that 87% of consumers will make purchasing decisions based on issues dear to them. They also showed that 76% of consumers count on companies leading against climate change. By a percentage almost as high, most would cease purchasing goods from companies that don’t show a commitment to these issues.
Companies are also becoming proactive about sustainability incorporating it into their corporate governance as an ethics and integrity issue. 64-89% of business leaders in North America and Europe believe that sustainability should drive everything from strategy to value creation.
The issue is so mainstream that many R&D and product development initiatives use Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) to evaluate the impact products will have on the environment throughout a product’s life.
Why a Sustainability Mentor Makes Sense
Like the example of an accountant, cutting corners on sustainability can be dangerous in today’s business climate. The statistics shared above show a marked shift in philosophy, and those who don’t take it seriously will encounter several risks.
Here are several reasons why entrepreneurs need a sustainability mentor to guide them:
1. To Develop Skillsets
Let’s face it – many long-time business leaders are playing sustainability catch up. Entrepreneurs need the benefit of a sustainability mentor to develop the same breadth of knowledge and skills that they may lack in general business. Many start their business with an idea but with little to no formal training on many subjects, and sustainability covers a lot of ground.
2. To Connect With a Community of Sustainability Professionals
Sustainability is complex. It’s an ecosystem of ideas and practical applications to move us to a closed-loop system. A sustainability mentor can help connect new leaders to recycling contacts, CLA specialists, renewable energy options, material sourcing, and more. These network connections work the same as business network connections, helping business owners uncover resources while sparking innovation.
3. To Protect Their Emerging Brand
With almost 75% of consumers expressing a desire for companies to genuinely embrace sustainability and being willing to walk away if they don’t, a company can risk its brand reputation early in the game. Savvy consumers know when companies give lip service or “greenwash” a product. A sustainability mentor can help businesses build a sustainable brand – one that is obvious and dovetails with customer expectations to build higher brand loyalty.
4. To Gather Real-World Business Advice
Many mentors with experience in sustainability came from industries before it was a business imperative. They’ve seen the transition and watched the trial and error of companies that did it right and companies that did it wrong. Their real-world advice can help business owners understand the practical steps to avoid the mistakes they and others made in the “early days.”
Many Mentors – One Goal
The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) at Georgian College has one goal – to help entrepreneurs succeed and thrive. With world-class mentorship programs combined with training, funding, and connections, we ensure you have all the tools you need on your journey.
As business professionals and educators who value ethics and integrity in all enterprises, we can help you find the right mentor or mentors, whether in general business or to address your sustainability questions, concerns, or skills.
Contact us today to learn how we can help.