Small Business Should Care about Business Sustainability Practices
Business sustainability and corporate social responsibility
Small business should care about business sustainability practices, as they will drive America’s way out of the Great Recession. This growth has been found through recoveries over the last century in our country. Times get tough, big business contracts (with the approval of shareholders) and small business does their best to survive. When things start to get better, it is always small business that hires the first wave of the unemployed. This time has been no different, and it is so important since our country will never feel “well” while unemployment is a major concern.
However, in the coming years, small business should care about business sustainability practices and take a lesson from big business in accepting sustainability into their daily operations. Big business, from Dell and Google to Ford and Caterpillar, are leading the way in lowering costs through environmentally friendly actions. Fortune 500 companies have stockholders driving carbon footprints, emission reductions, and energy constraints. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, companies that invest in sustainability do better financially.
Lowering costs to justify business sustainability practices
Why is this important to small business, you might ask? Well, there are two little words in the last paragraph that are important – lowering costs. No matter what you believe is in store for the future of our environment, energy will be more expensive. There is a limit to the amount of petroleum left on this planet, and the price of that available commodity will go up every day that we use it.
Prices are going to go up in the future, and faster than inflation and the costs of other goods. Big business has teams of people looking at this, small business has you reading this. All entrepreneurs, but especially sustainability entrepreneurs, need to succeed for all of our future’s sake.
Start today by performing an energy audit of your organization. Find an online calculator (or a qualified individual) and enter your natural gas, petroleum, and electricity usage. This makes an important first step as it allows you to measure where you are today in regards to carbon output, along with energy consumption. Another great tool is the free Verde iPad app, which helps you enter all appliances and lighting in your small business, and it demonstrates the cost and carbon savings potential if you improve energy efficiency.
Set business sustainability goals for the next few years
Set a goal for the next year, reductions of electricity, natural gas, and petroleum usage. Then put your small business ingenuity and creativity to work to find those reductions. Start small, avoid putting a solar panel or any other large expenses into play, and instead begin with energy efficient light bulbs, programming your thermostat lower or higher, installing motion sensors for lights, and changing your refueling practices. After a year of these changes, remeasure your results and most importantly, calculate your economic savings. You may be surprised at what you find, and you may be surprised how easy you met your goals.
Advertising these results is important
It tells people that you care about the community, and it tells clients that you are fiscally responsible. There is also a secret that big business knows, the reason that large money in advertising focuses on touting environmental protection and advances, and that is that consumers care about the impact that business has on the environment. They may not quite be willing to make essential changes in their lifestyles, or have the knowledge on how to act, but they definitely don’t want to buy products that will damage the planet. Share your sustainability initiatives with your customers on twitter, google +, facebook, and pinterest.
Remember, big business has teams of people working on sustainability, reducing environmental impact and then marketing those reductions to the public. However, those teams of people need to change the habits of thousands of people. In this way, small business can change faster and more efficiently, driving both our economic recovery, and the green recovery that is just as essential to our future.