In an enterprise, sustainable economics has many facettes and dimensions. It starts with capitalization.
In our company (InterFace AG), there is a tradition we have now stuck to for 25 years. A considerable part of each year’s surplus – usually half – is fed into the reserves. That is why we now have a capitalization (capital and reserves) of significantly more than two million Euros, even though, back in the year 1984, we started with no more than 100,000 DM (that is the equivalent of 50,000 Euros).
Over the last 25 years, our capital grew by a factor of fifty. That was only possible, because (almost) all shares are held by people who feel strongly for the company. Therefore, they always renounced most of the dividend that would have been their due. Of course, that is not something you can take for granted.
And our healthy reserves make it easier for us if, for instance, big German conglomerates single-handedly extend their payment deadline to 90 days or more (and then they are cynical enough to include an expensive “factorizing offer” of their in-house bank).
What is more important than money is trust. When talking this property, you must not even think in terms of sustainability, because it is absolutely out of the question to reduce this valuable resource, even gently. Trust is something you have to fight for every day. Working as a director actually can be seen as one huge, continuing effort towards building up and maintaining trust.
And do not forget all the other values that make an enterprise a strong enterprise:
The knowledge and competence of the employees, their determination to produce quality and their ability to communicate successfully both internally and externally. Or think of the acceptance of responsibility and a leader’s tasks and his readiness “be a model”.
A socio-economical system like an enterprise needs practiced self-responsibility on a daily basis and intrinsical motivation of all employees in order to continue to be a success. The work must be done voluntarily, all stakeholders must develop a healthy pride for a job well done, and they all have to be able to find a good balance of identification with the enterprise.
All these treasures are constantly subjected to threats from the outside and therefore must be nurtured, maintained, and further developed by all parties concerned, ideally together.
Knowledge gets antiquated and needs to be newly acquired all the time. Prudent movement and sensible dynamics are necessary in order to avoid business blindness and paralysis through routine. There must be the readiness to tackle novelties and change along with the prevailing processes.
These are all issues that are important factors of sustainability. If an enterprise throws sustainability overboard and plunders its own resources, it will sooner or later die. Only an enterprise working according to the economic principle of sustainability has a chance of remaining alive during the years and decades.
This means that every enterprise needs an enterprise culture that pays tribute to sustainability. But in order to achieve this, you have to make the effort at all times. And without comrades-in-arms who support you no matter what, you have no chance.
(Translated by EG)