Busi­ness mod­els in the con­text of a sus­tain­able eco­nom­ic or­der

Business models that are not (yet) consistently geared towards sustainability are, in a sense, endangering themselves. Sustainability and digitalisation have become significant parameters for future viability. The comprehensive examination of possible future scenarios and how a company can assert itself in them has already been reported here. Consequently, the next step is to critically examine one's own existing business model. This is also not done in isolation, but in the context of the further development of our global economy - towards a more sustainable economy of maintenance, repair and remanufacturing.

Com­ing to terms with un­cer­tain­ties with the help of sce­nario tech­niques

The keyword is circular economy. So far, the idea of completely closing material cycles - among other things by using waste as valuable "new" resources - is purely a vision. However, the majority of experts agree that this must become reality. The difficult path to this more sustainable economic order requires far-reaching systemic changes. After all, circular economy is much more than improved waste management and technically optimised waste management. In the future, innovations that produce durable, repairable and fully recyclable products will play a central role.

And in order to be able to implement the basic idea of "second sourcing" as comprehensively as possible, a clearly upstream step is also required: the subsequent recycling of the products or individual product components must already be taken into account in the design, i.e. not only at the end of the life cycle. For this goal, raw material producers, product designers, trade, consumers and waste management will have to work together on optimised solutions instead of focusing only on "their" elements of the supply chain.

In addition, fixed procedures and rules for setting and monitoring reuse rates need to be established. There is currently no reliable database for this. A blessing and a curse at the same time: the development of a reliable factual basis is made difficult in this country by the large number of very well-established individual reuse paths and the actors involved in them. Other approaches to action also include individual producer responsibility, the prevention of illegal waste exports and concentrated interdisciplinary research on the implementation of the circular economy.

These courses of action for a more sustainable economic order alone reflect the enormous complexity of this socio-political task. At the same time, it means a fundamental reversal from the previous thought model of "produce-use-throw-away" and thus for many companies a fundamental change in their current business basis with an unpredictable future.

SWOT-Analy­sis with sus­tain­abil­i­ty po­ten­tial

A comprehensive SWOT analysis helps to critically examine one's own business base in this context and to identify opportunities for a sustainable business model with several valid pillars.

In cooperation with experts and consultants such as the Ruess Group, the professionally and independently conducted analysis forms a good basis for identifying (new) potential for innovation, defining further measures and thus being able to achieve the set sustainability goals in the short and medium term.

The research effort required for this should not be underestimated - the more comprehensive, independent and thorough, the better. It is necessary in order to be able to draw reliable and clear conclusions from which the management can derive clear decisions for the sustainable future of the company and its business model.

Re­think­ing and us­ing com­pe­tences

Based on our experience with these essential change processes, aha moments on the client side are pre-programmed. Often, it is only when the SWOT analysis results are derived into a strategy plan that it becomes clear which new role companies have to take on in order to build sustainable business models that are fit for the future. The art lies in rethinking existing competences, linking them meaningfully with the potentials for more sustainability that have been uncovered and finally using them in a target-oriented way.

In addition to many answers, many new strategic questions usually arise, such as:

  • In future, the company will rely on several sustainable business pillars, but which one will be given more weight?
  • In this context, how do you redeploy previous competences in a sustainable business model?
  • What new competences does the company need to be successful on the market in the long term and where does it get them?
  • What other future business opportunities arise from the new business model?
  • What about the business ethos? Should a company rather profit within the framework of a sustainable economic order or prioritise social responsibility?

Our clients can rely on our sustainability expertise to answer these questions. Together, we develop the strategic path and anchor it in the company in such a way that it rightly receives the ratings "sustainable" and "fit for the future". Do you also want to be sustainably certified? We are also happy to assist you with these usually very time-consuming and complex testing procedures and accompany you on the rewarding path to the desired quality seal. In the next article, we will report on why these efforts are also a significant competitive advantage in view of changing values, new consumer habits and the media use of younger generations.