10 Ways For Your Business To Do Better in 2023
It could really mean anything.
But we’ve seen through research, studies and recommendations from business schools this year that ‘better business’ often means steering entrepreneurs and businesses away from traditional profiteering models to become not only more environmentally aware but more socio-politically conscious too.
It’s about being aware about the ripples your business creates (whether the pollution you spill, jobs you create, or services you manage) and trying to manage them for the better.
A lot of research from business and management education has focused on how profit doesn’t have to be at the expense of progress. Day after day, this becomes ever more important for addressing the big challenges we face, two of the most prominent being climate change and wealth inequality.
So how do we go about doing this? We’ve summarised our top 10 lessons we’ve taken from academia this year, and included digestible starting points for you to progress your work with better business. For starters, many businesses still haven’t jumped on the hybrid working bandwagon, but the benefits of doing so go beyond greater productivity…
1) Give employees space and flexibility
While this is a pro for most employees generally, Professor Viviane de Beaufort of ESSEC business school highlighted the direct impact this can have in getting more women to C-suite level. Even when offered a managerial position, many women will turn down the roles due to imposter syndrome and feeling unqualified – despite the role being offered to them based on their experience. But also, women offered executive roles were juggling other priorities. By allowing for more flexibility in how and when we work, you create a space for better business, as those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to take top roles now feasibly can. Such initiatives should be celebrated, even in the more difficult times.
2) Don’t make sacrifices towards better business, even in the tough times
Better business initiatives are great, but they have to be ones that last throughout both easy and more turbulent times. One initiative is making sure a company’s board is more representative and diverse – but an investigation this year by Imperial College Business School highlighted that when companies underperform, they tend to sacrifice their board’s gender and racial diversity. Indeed, companies will always forgo diversity efforts to boost their performance, which shows a lack of commitment to their original efforts. Instead, change your mindsets – look to greater diversity as way of boosting underperformance through more varied expertise. Unfortunately, there are so many more factors in your business that can impact various groups, including women.
3) International policies will impact your business
Trade tends to always be seen as a positive, but when operating internationally, be aware that sometimes greater trade along Bilateral Investment Treaties can lead to a negative impact on women’s economic rights. Research from Nazarbayev University’s School of Sciences and Humanities shows that trade across democratic and non-democratic can impact the political and economic rights of women, whether for good or bad. When trade results in a lack of economic agency, governments tend to then move to improve political rights to avoid facing social disruption. Be aware of your supply chain, and how it may be impacting individuals on the ground both abroad and at home. Support for various better business initiatives amongst your board or shareholders may come and go, but what’s important is making sure you continue nonetheless.
4) Make sustainability goals unshakeable
While support for sustainability initiatives are constant amongst consumers and the public, amid shareholders it can wane. Indeed, Dr Guosong Xu at the Rotterdam School of Management Erasmus University (RSM) found if shareholders have a first hand experience of natural disasters, they are 38% more likely to support more sustainable measures – but this does not last very long. Once disasters have passed, a company’s sustainability initiatives will lose support. As a guide for better business, companies should entrench sustainability as part of the company culture as part of not only their work culture but business plan too. Shareholders and investors can be a good reflection of your business more widely – or a bad one.
5) Know of who you are taking money from
With the internet allowing for almost complete transparency into your business, who you take investments can be detrimental to your success. Dr Job Andreoli, Assistant Professor of Finance at Nyenrode Business University, highlighted this year that prior funding can tell potential investors whether you are worth investing in or not. What this means for better business is that being more aware of what your current or past investments might mean for the future is crucial. Take account of your previous investments, and plan for risk accordingly. Such risk management is necessary in many situations, including managing any political risk.
6) Your supply chain might need to prepare for political conflict
Being ill prepared just isn’t an excuse after the last few years – we’ve been through so much unknown, and now the unexpected has almost become…. Expected. Such as the case for political violence and social unrest, which we have seen across the world in the last few years. Research by Dr. Claudia Custodio, Associate Professor of Finance at Imperial College Business School, highlighted this year that such cases can cause inventory purchases to decrease as much as 20% due to increased uncertainty. Keep track of your inventory purchases, and chose to adjust them conservatively rather than solely upon more sudden changes in demand. Having a clear overview, and being transparent about, your logistics is key to creating better business.
7) Honesty is always the best policy
When consumers lose trust in a company because they’ve been given good reason to do so, failure is almost certain. Thinking about how to make sure your business is 2023-worthy, one thing should be a given: honestly, and transparency, are key. Research co-authored by Dr Spyros Angelopoulos at Durham University Business School underlined the impact being obscure about data breaches can have to consumers fail to build long-term customers. Choosing to actively deny telling customers about a data breach, rather than being forthright from the get-go, showed a decrease in customers will to purchase from a business. For better business, be proactive in telling your customers when something has gone wrong, instead of trying to avoid a disaster. It could only get worse. Data breaches don’t always happen to personal data you have collected; it can be on your own market research too.
8) Give customers the space to make proper reviews
Whilst allowing customers to rate your services or products is important for growth and development, you may be self-sabotaging if you only give them space to do so on numbered scales. Research by Matthias D. Mahlendorf, Professor of Managerial Accounting from Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, argued that ‘star rating systems’ left alone do not provide beneficial information to businesses, as people automatically rate products too similarly. Providing, instead, space for customers to write about the product or service can prompt more unique and tailored reviews, which in turn will help you know on where your focus on improvement should lie. You may be surprised on what people critique – maybe a lack of robots?
9) Robots can make all the difference
While you may think that people prefer buying from other people, recent research would suggest otherwise. Dr Zhibin Lin from Durham University Business School highlighted this year that when customers interact with robots, it triggers positive emotions such as love, interest and excitement. Having robots can really differentiate your business, whilst also helping reduce costs and often increase efficiency. The catch? If your robots are malfunctioning, it is likely to alienate your customer. Look into what form of robotics may be good for your business and how they can help create that unique experience for your customers. If you do choose to save money on staff costs this way, you would be removing the chance for someone to earn income, and maybe pull themselves out of poverty…
10) Poverty is everyone’s business
Alleviating poverty is no longer the responsibility of just governments – now consumers look to businesses to see what they are doing to help solve the problem too. And it’s not hard to know where to start – a study undertaken by Jesús Crespo Cuaresma, Professor of Macroeconomics at Vienna University of Business and Economics (WU), used light emissions to understand where global poverty resides. Studies like this can help understand the fast changing nature of modern poverty, which often is not fixed but travels. Be aware of research like this, and cross reference it with your business supply chain – is there any more you could be doing?
Really ask yourself, is there any more you could be doing?
A question that is perhaps central to better business – a practice that seeks to align profit and progress parallel to one another, rather than opposed. Going into 2023, no one is expecting a business to make instant radical reforms – but it is those tiny steps that are key to building greater success. One change, one policy, at a time.