How Sustainability and Entrepreneurship Coexist

Although sustainability can mean a variety of different things to many different people, Ian Schelledy believes that its essence can be summarized into one phrase: the triple bottom line. Thinking about people, profit and planet requires a mindset geared toward long-term thinking, a path that Schelledy, founder of Sustainable Startups, has been inspiring others to incorporate into their practice. His company has created a platform for entrepreneurs across Utah to discuss ideas and attend programs centering around sustainable business models.

As one of our recent workshops, Schelledy provided insight into the various aspects of sustainability and how any aspiring or current entrepreneur could improve their practices. In case you missed it, here are his top tips:

1. “Anyone who is wanting to start a company who is serious about triple-bottom-line efforts should look at benefit corporations and consider that as an avenue.”

Entrepreneurship is oftentimes synonymous with innovation. But this doesn’t mean you have to “reinvent the wheel” of sustainable success. Schelledy encourages any young business to research benefit corporations and analyze what practices they have adopted that could be successful for their own business. Some Utah favorites include Cotopaxi and Uinta Brewing Company.

2. “As a startup company, your business model is going to change a hundred times over before you figure it out. A lot of these practices are really designed for once you have how your business is going to run and operate, and then they can move into effect.”

In short: you cannot modify something that fails to exist. Schelledy stresses that an entrepreneur’s priority should be creating an established business model. Without this foundation, sustainable practices will override the short-term priorities that govern new businesses. The key to Patagonia’s success rests on its high-quality products and then its sustainable practices.

3. “If you are going to start a business, know why you’re doing it. And make sure you are clear about the values governing why you are doing it. Let your decision making be informed by these values.”

Once you identify what you believe in and your practices follow through with these beliefs (and still make sense), success will follow.

The most notable sustainable practices started as an idea with a healthy balance of long-term and short-term goals. Look to companies like Cotopaxi, Uinta Brewing Company and Patagonia to consider ways your business could become sustainable through recycling and repairing materials or utilizing new types of eco-friendly resources. Let your innovation surprise you, and who knows, it could become a new element to your business that will ultimately set you apart.

Want more tips like these? Attend our regular Workshops program events at Lassonde Studios. We have guest experts presenting on a wide range of topics. Learn more about the program and see what workshops are coming up at

About the Author:

Julia Dominesey Julia is an undergraduate student at the University of Utah studying mechanical engineering. Her passion for public speaking and networking has led to her frequent contributions and involvement at the Lassonde Institute.

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