The concept of "sustainability" as it refers to environmentally conscious practices is a topic that every business should discuss. Likewise, the idea of "sustained" growth is also a regular part of discussions for today's businesses.
As a business owner, you want your company to grow in a sustained manner, but it's also important to handle that growth in a sustainable way where profits aren't gained at the expence of the planet's future. How do you combine these two essential ideas into one program for business success?
Flexible Leadership & Goals
One of the documents that many entrepreneurs and business experts tout is the business plan, and it's often the best tool a fledgling start-up has to get investment dollars. However, a business plan isn't something etched into concrete for all eternity.
It's a malleable document that requires consistent updates and attention. Likewise, the company's leadership requires a similar level of flexibility.
According to an article on Fast Company:
"… since a company's needs change at each stage, its leaders need to keep evolving at the right pace. That requires introspection, self-awareness, and a keen sense of strategy—both in the short and long term."
When you begin focusing on a sustainable future, you may have to make tough choices that will change things at the start but lead to greater sustainability in the future.
Implementing Sustainable Business Practices
You'll need to create a blueprint for sustainability, and there will probably be a lot of things on that document. Some projects will take very little effort, and others may require some upfront investment, but the overall impact of your sustainable practices will save your business money in the long run.
Here are a few concepts you'll want to think about while developing your business's future sustainability plan.
Stop waste before it starts.
It's great to install a line of color-coded trash bins ready for recyclable trash, but it's important to remember that not all trash is truly "recyclable" even if there's a bin for it somewhere. Plastic can only be recycled so many times before it has no choice but to become landfill bound.
So, instead of going wild with recycling, you may want to consider a program that encourages employees to stop the trash from ever reaching the bin in the first place. That means eliminating the use of printers in the office, making sure no one uses disposable cups for drinking, and installing dryers in the bathrooms in place of paper towels.
It's one thing to say you're going to implement sustainable business practices, and it's quite another to make those changes. However, it's important to consider that implementing sustainable business practices is one of the best ways to save money.
Planning hardware upgrades.
Water conservation is one of the most important features of your plan for sustainability, and the changes you make today for water conservation will help your business in the future with reduced electricity bills and the knowledge that your business doesn't use more water than it needs.
According to the Small Business Administration (SBA):
"You may wonder what water use and saving energy have to do with each other? In most cases, electricity or gas are used to heat water, and this costs you money. In addition, your water company uses energy to purify and pump water to your business as well as in the treatment of your sewage. So part of your water and sewage bill is really an energy bill. The more water your business consumes, the more you will benefit from optimizing water use."
There are several projects you may consider when you're evaluating ways to reduce your business's use of water. Even if your business is located in a rental unit, you may be able to accomplish some of these water-saving projects:
- Replace fixtures with water-efficient versions
- Update appliances to water-efficient machines
- Consider xeriscaping for the company's landscaping
- Replace the water heater with an insulation blanket
- Make sure the pipes aren't leaking and wasting water
Working with the community.
A sustainable business doesn't work in a vacuum or from a closet where all ideas are kept secret. The Ivey Business Journal says:
"Effective collaboration is the key to accelerating sustainability across a value chain or an industry. Companies can do everything possible to improve their environmental and social impacts within their own operations, but the big advances are made when companies align the actions of suppliers, distributors and all other members of their value chains."
What does this mean for the average small business who isn't yet a multinational player with billions of dollars in revenue? It simply means that the sustainable practices are best served in a collaborative environment where businesses work with one another to create the biggest positive changes.
Consider Sustainability as a Tool for Growth
Rather than focusing solely on how you can grow your business and accomplish the task in a sustainable manner, it's also important to think about how sustainability can improve how people perceive your business. Implementing even a few sustainable practices can earn you savings in the cost to run your business, as well as favor with your customers.
The Green Business Bureau of Pittsburgh reveals:
"Making a few small changes can mean big payoffs. In fact, three-quarters of consumers don’t care if a business is not environmentally perfect, as long as a good faith effort is made towards sustainability. That means a few cost-saving sustainable practices can actually gain new customers and grow a business even more."
Using sustainable business practices is important even if nobody outside the company notices them. However, sustainability and a company's awareness of sustainable business practices are incredible tools for improving a company's relationship with the public.
It's no secret that authentic and personal companies garner more positive attention than companies who don't connect with their customers or clients.
The Guardian reveals:
"Be an authentic company and mean what you say. Appropriate and diverse role models and institutions are far more appealing to consumers. They want to know the companies providing the sustainability guidance are also taking their own advice and striving to be more sustainable across their entire business."
Think of implementing sustainable business practices as offering your company a competitive advantage over other companies that don't take corporate responsibility seriously.
Interested in Sustainable Packaging for Your Business?
Custom packaging is an incredible tool for marketing your brand, and our custom packaging solutions offer your business a great way to implement sustainable practices at your organization.
If your business is interested in using modern packaging solutions that reduce your company's impact on the environment, let us know! Find out what we can do for your business with our sustainable packaging options. Request a Free Catalog and Sample Kit Today!