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Small business challenges and the triple bottom line, TBL: Needs assessment in a Midwest State, U.S.A.

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Publication date: Available online 9 June 2017
Source:Technological Forecasting and Social Change

Author(s): Diane Depken, Catherine Zeman

Few resources or published studies exist identifying the informational needs or motivational factors that would assist small businesses wishing to develop, follow, or institute a business model using sustainable and triple bottom line, TBL practices in the U.S. Further, little was known in this mid-western State about the depth of green business practices or the desire of business owners to learn more. A cross-sectional, convenience sample was surveyed to define the needs and interest of the small business enterprises. Only 10 (n =31) percent of the 319 companies contacted completed the short survey. However, for that 10%, a strong interest in gaining knowledge in this area was expressed. Findings indicated that many smaller businesses may not have the efficacy base of knowledge, skills, and resources whereby they can operationalize sustainable or green business practices. Coding the responses in the areas of green business motivation, learning, and hoped for benefits according to the TBL of community, profit, and environment illustrated that profit was a motivator overall 2:1 compared to environment and community. For the small business community, much of the literature, technical expertise and sustainability assessment models remain beyond their resources and time reach. The challenge becomes one of finding ways to broaden the appeal of sustainability and TBL practices and establish a means of peer to peer sharing and benchmarking efficacy and progress in sustainable business practices.

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