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A different take on business sustainability

 13 November 2021     Donald Cooper 

There’s a lot of talk about ‘business sustainability’ these days but it all seems to be about the environment and being ‘green’. That’s important, but there’s another aspect of business sustainability that’s equally important and that’s being sustainable, relevant and profitable as a functioning business. There’s no point in being green if you’re gone.

More than half of the companies that were on the Fortune 500 list of the biggest companies in 2000, no longer exist. Fifty years ago, the life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company brand was 75 years – now it’s less than 15. The same attrition rate is true for small and medium size companies. They’re falling like flies.

Ultimately, it’s about financial sustainability. If there’s no bottom line, there’s no business. Below are my Four Tips on creating financial sustainability:

  • So, you need a sustainable business model that defines the future of your industry not one that perpetuates the history of your industry. There are thousands of companies trying to fiddle and fine-tune a business model that has become irrelevant and needs a complete reinvention.

  • Then you need sustainable, clear and compelling customer value that grabs your target customers, clearly differentiates you from your competitors, makes you famous and grows your bottom line. Does your business need a ‘customer value’ rethink? Your customers have likely changed. Have you?

  • Next, you need to create world-class operational efficiency that makes you price-competitive, service-competitive and profitable. Without it, you’re a goner.

  • Finally, you need a sustainable talent pipeline at every level in your business. To use a sports analogy, you need bench strength to be sustainable. This includes extraordinary and sustainable leadership at the top. If that’s you, don’t stay on past your ‘best-before’ date. It’s not all about you! For more on this, download my no-charge business tool (#A-17): Evaluate Your Talent Pipeline by clicking here.

All of this, done right, will create financial sustainability. Using my Four Tips, what needs rethinking or fixing in your business? Who will make that happen and by when? If you need help, I’m easy to find at

Here’s something else to think about: 

A few interesting facts about ‘Brand Trust’ – here are some interesting finding that came from a a recent survey of Canadian consumers by research firm IMI International:

  • sampling was one of the biggest drivers of trust.
  • being sold at Costco increased brand trust by 30%.
  • appearing on Facebook reduced brand trust by 38%.
  • 31% of people under the age of 34 reported that they ‘never’ trust a brand.
  • with 33% of people, you cannot regain trust once it’s lost.

What’s your approach to management? Do you tell your team what to do and how to do it and then micro-manage them to make sure they do as they’re told? Or do you work with your team to agree on and commit to clear and compelling operational and customer outcomes (results) and then decide together how best to achieve or deliver those?

That’s it for this week. Stay safe and live brilliantly!

Stearns & Foster
Phoenix AMD
This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.

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Home Goods and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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