Maintain profitability while you bring sustainability to your small business

David Banks
Authored by David Banks
Posted Friday, May 29, 2020 - 8:39am

If you’ve been reading news about eco-friendly initiatives, you may’ve noticed that big brands dominate the news world when it comes to sustainable initiatives. This often lets start-ups thinking that their actions don’t matter, or that they’re not big enough to make a difference. 

Sustainability has been a hot subject for many years now. While everyone applauds the efforts big brands make to find solutions for climate change, start-ups and small businesses can also make a difference. Small ventures may not have the same resources corporations have, but they can reduce their footprints while maintaining or even increasing performance and profitability. 

But do you know what sustainability is?

You may have heard the term countless times when reading eco-friendly articles, but you cannot put your finger on its exact meaning. It’s one of the words that create buzz in a room when you say it because it sounds fancy. If you want to run a sustainable brand, you should first find out what it implies. We will rely on the UN’s World Commission on Environment and Development to define it for us. They state that sustainability includes three pillars, social sustainability or people, economic sustainability or profit and environmental sustainability or planet. But when speaking about eco-friendly initiatives we’re focusing only on the last pillar, even if it’s challenging to separate them. 

Why should small businesses take up sustainability?

The answer is a straightforward one. The buyers are becoming more environmentally conscious, and this influences their purchasing decisions. Both small companies and corporations have clients in common, so they need to address their needs and preferences. At present, switching to eco-friendly operations is no longer a matter of choice, it’s a business decision that impacts performance and profitability. A survey revealed that 55% of people prefer to pay more for services and goods if a sustainable organisation provides them. People care who makes the products, and how that company is reducing their carbon footprint and influencing the environment through their decisions. 

If you want to reach more clients and retain them, embracing sustainable measures is the path. Also, if you analyse, you understand that sustainable practices make more sense because in the long run companies can reach success only if the planet doesn’t collapse. 

Encourage your employees to be part of the movement

For your initiative to be successful, your team should support your efforts. In the beginning, get everyone in the business together for a meeting and share with them your plans. Tell them how you want to change the company into a greener one, and why you think it’s the right moment to do it. Many employees probably sympathise with the eco-friendly movement, but they don’t share their personal preferences at work so that you may don’t be aware of it. And even if your employees don’t actively support the green movement, once you explain to them how important is for everyone to reduce their carbon footprint and how it will benefit the company, they’ll definitely take steps to improve their environmental impact. Sometimes people need a push in the right direction, and you can give it if you create regulations they must respect when they complete tasks. 

You can involve your team in eco-friendly initiatives outside the headquarters of the company. Not only that it will grow your reputation as a brand interested in the wellbeing of the community, but it will also encourage them to bond and connect. Once a month run a beach clean-up, plant trees together in a local forest or join a local environmental organisation and help them promote the importance of sustainability. 

At the same time, change the way your employees work. Provide them with green alternatives from where they work, how they work, and even how they eat. 

Go paperless

Printing all your paperwork and promotional materials consumes a significant amount of resources. Check your archive if you find it hard to believe. You can create, edit, share and read documents in digital form. You can even submit your invoices online and manage your bookkeeping. You can also ask your employees to bring reusable mugs, or you can provide a range of cups for them. Extend paper-reduction outside the office, and take it to the break room and even at home. By sharing with your employees, ways to lower the consumption of paper, you teach them how to reduce their impact on the environment.

If your company relies on paper usage, you can use balers to collect and recycle it. You can find online some useful guides about balers to find out how they work and how they can benefit your organisation. When you cannot cut paper waste, you can at least recycle it.  

Use eco-friendly office spaces

When running a small company, you don’t afford to buy your own office space, so you rent it. The bad news is that you cannot control how green the building is. But you can find an area that is LEED-certified. A LEED-certified office is more energy-efficient, so you’ll also save money on utility bills. If possible, pick a space close to the train or bus stops to encourage your employees to use public transport and reduce their carbon footprint.  

Get your clients involved

You can boost your initiative’s impact if you share it with your clients. Tell them how they can get involved and reduce their impact on the planet. You can donate a portion of your profit to a local charity that makes efforts to cut carbon footprint or recycle goods. Or you can start an in-house program to educate the young generation, on how to change their behaviour to protect the planet. By sharing your efforts with your clients, you show them you take sustainability seriously to all organisational levels

You can partner with your clients in an initiative the improves the local area. For example, for every determined number of products sold, you plant a specified number of trees in the local park. This way, you encourage your public to choose your brand and join you in a program that directly impacts their community. 



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