Author: lailakasem

Laila is a senior lecturer in the Marketing & Enterprise subject group. Laila's research expertise lie in the internationalisation of firms and learning from international expansion. Her research examined the impact of firms’ degree of internationalisation on enhancing their technological and marketing capabilities and the subsequent effect on performance. Laila has experience in case study research as well as using Partial Least Square Structural Equation Modelling to analyse quantitative data. Her current research interests include immigrant entrepreneurship in the UK and consumer behaviour particularly cross cultural consumer behaviour and food consumption.

Eco-entrepreneurs are better positioned to create business models

By Laila Kasem, Senior Lecturer in the Worcester Business School

Many of the approaches suggested to or employed by businesses remain largely tactical

Sustainability is becoming increasingly one of those buzzwords in the business world we hear all the time. Many conferences, speeches and articles are devoted to tell firms how sustainability is essential for their growth and, in some cases, to their survival. However, many of the approaches suggested to or employed by businesses remain largely tactical. Few businesses are managing to make sustainability an integral part of their strategy although this is likely to be the approach yielding greater benefits to businesses.

Enter the new eco-entrepreneurs

This is where some new eco-entrepreneurs are setting examples. They are creating new business models by embedding sustainability into the business strategy to stand out from the heavyweight competitors in the market. Their offerings address simultaneously both commercial and sustainability needs., the world’s leading car sharing network

For example, Zipcar, founded in the US in 2000, is now the world’s leading car sharing network with a global fleet of over 10,000 vehicles, more than 860,000 members in the US, Canada and Europe and a revenue of $238 million in 2013. Zipcar, which has been acquired by Avis for nearly $500 million in 2013, offers a smart transportation solution with a small footprint on the environment by providing its members cars when and where they need them. Such service would result in fewer cars, less congestion and less pollution in major cities.

Another eco-startup is which, as the name suggests, rescues quality used boxes from large companies that are otherwise destined for recycling or waste and resell these boxes to both companies and home movers. At the heart of this business is the idea that reusing, rather than recycling, is the most responsible way to help the environment. Launched in 2006, the firm currently serves customers across the US and generate sales of nearly $10 million.

Sustainability could be the key strategic resource that gives your business a competitive edge.

Zipcar and are just two of many firms that are taking sustainability in business to a new level. While many have argued there is a business case for environmental and social initiatives, there is a stronger case for not dealing with them as add-ons, but as integral elements of the business strategy. Few established companies are able to transform their businesses to achieve such goal. Eco-entrepreneurs starting afresh, on the other hand, are better positioned to create business models with sustainability at their heart. Hence, if you are thinking of your next start-up, here is one thing to keep in mind: sustainability could be the key strategic resource that gives your business a competitive edge.