Green Practices That Make Financial Sense For Your Business
If you’re thinking of implementing “green” practices in your small business, it’s natural to want to make sure they’re cost-effective. After all, the point of running your own small business is to make money.
Fortunately, you may not have to choose between going green and bringing in the green. These days, many environmentally friendly strategies can help your company cut costs or possibly even boost your earnings, according to Misha Clive, spokeswoman for the Green Business Network at the nonprofit Green America.
Customize Your Business’s Green Plan
Every small business uses energy and other environmental resources differently. As such, there’s no single “recipe” for cost-effectively going green that will work for every company. “The strategies of a solo entrepreneur selling local services will be vastly different from the strategies for a 100-employee company selling products with a global supply chain,” says Clive. “However, every business can explore energy conservation, waste reduction and water savings.”
Some suggestions on where to start: Green America surveyed more than 1,300 small business owners in its report “The Big Green Opportunity for Small Business in the U.S.” and identified 10 environmentally beneficial actions with the fastest return on investment (ROI), in order of payback:
- Purchase energy-efficient equipment.
- Train staff to conserve energy (from turning off lights to running energy-intensive large equipment only when necessary).
- Install more efficient lighting (LED bulbs, motion-sensing lighting).
- Recycle and/or reuse in-house plastics, paper, metals, glass and/or organics.
- Redesign products to require less energy in production.
- Create employee incentives for reducing energy use.
- Enable energy-saving settings on computers.
- Increase local purchasing of products (to save on shipping/transportation costs).
- Install energy-efficient windows.
- Install solar panels to cut energy costs (these have gone down significantly in price over the past few years).
There’s a growing demand for green products and services from authentic, mission-based businesses that ‘walk the walk.’ Twitter Icon
Get Employees on Board
Companies that earn the highest ROI from their environmentally friendly strategies also tend to do two things especially well, says Clive: They get their employees fired up and they keep a close eye on their competitors.
If you want to do the same, “You should be watching green efforts by your competition — or cooperative partners — like a hawk and participating in social media, forums, trade groups and conferences around your industry,” says Clive.
Since that can be time-intensive, smart business owners get help from employees. “Give them specific assignments, like a newsletter to keep up with, a company to watch, or an event to attend,” she suggests. “Ask them to report back and share their learning widely with everyone on your team.”
Let Customers Know About Your Efforts
Remember, too, that environmental strategies could help increase your profits by attracting new customers or expanding your work with existing clients. “There’s a growing demand for green products and services from authentic, mission-based businesses that ‘walk the walk,’” Clive says.
Make sure your customers and community know about your green efforts, she says. If your delivery vehicles are hybrid or all-electric vehicles, for instance, tout that on your website, in social media, and even with banners on the vehicles. If your office building is Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)-certified, announce it in signage, marketing materials, and more.
Finally, if you invest a lot of energy in your company’s environmental efforts, you may want to get certified by a third party (such as Green America or B Lab). “Once you’re certified, make sure to wear your seals proudly in all the ways you market to customers, signifying to them that you truly use green practices,” advises Clive.