The Triple Bottom Line
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"How’s your bottom line," is a question most businesses owners can easily answer in monetary terms. Profits may be up, sales can be brisk – you get the picture. But there’s another way to view success that’s about more than just money. It’s called the Triple Bottom Line, and it’s a new perspective your business can use to truly measure up.
It’s All About Sustainability
The Triple Bottom Line concept views business as part of a moral community. As such, it has responsibilities to be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, and the decisions it makes should be measured by these three factors:
Economic sustainability focuses on long-term survival of the business. For example, if you run an auto repair shop, the decision to use dealer parts instead of substitutes depends on which you believe will be better for your business in the long run. Choose dealer parts, and you’ll have fewer issues with warranties. Opt for substitutes, and you may save money in the short term but suffer if parts fail at a higher rate. Only you can decide which approach will lead to your own long-term success.
Social Sustainability means looking beyond your goals and considering those of the market around you. For many businesses, this means making ethical decisions that keep the community viable. When you support measures that help inner city employees reach your car repair shop in the suburbs, society as a whole benefits.
Environmental sustainability recognizes that the resources a business works with are finite. As such, a business has an obligation to use them sparingly or develop ways to replace or repurpose them. It means thinking past the present day and creating an environment in which the next generation can succeed. For your auto repair business, environmental sustainability may mean recycling tires and used motor oil.
Case Study: Chinese Pizza
In 2010, two New Zealand natives founded Gung Ho! Pizza in Beijing. They set a triple bottom line path for economic, social and environmental sustainability from the get-go, basing their model after Patagonia, a world leader in outdoor apparel.
Gung Ho!’s self-proclaimed goal to be the ‘Patagonia of Pizza’ was more than just a fun way to frame their business model. It reflected the very real circumstances of living in one of the world’s most congested and air-polluted cities.
Sustainability would be a key to success on all fronts; however, environmental sustainability would be a priority. So, the fledgling firm made significant investments in energy-efficiency, going so far as to hire a Sustainability Advisor in 2013.
Today, the firm has surpassed start-up mode and is now in a growth phase, operating three retail locations in Beijing. A first franchise location is also underway with more planned in the future. To read more about Gung Ho! Pizza and its triple bottom line approach, click here.
Your Triple Bottom Line
Whether you’re repairing autos in America or pitching pizza in Beijing, there are many ways to measure your bottom line effectiveness. If your goal is sustainability, a triple bottom line approach is a proven way to achieve it.