As consumers become more environmentally conscious, small and medium sized businesses are seeing a direct benefit from catching the wave of sustainability. Aside from energy cost savings that a business can have by going green, distinction as a sustainable business draws in additional customers and more profits. Consumers are becoming less satisfied with corporate America and want to see responsibility within a business. Taking steps to become an environmental conservative business will help reinforce to the customer base that a company is taking responsibility for their impact on the world.
If your business has not already started a green initiative, then the thought of becoming green can be extremely daunting, especially when finances are tight. However, going green is simpler than many think. Simply creating a policy on when lights should be used, or how to conserve water will have no start up costs, and can provide instant savings. Visit www.energysavers.gov for excellent ideas and information on other areas to conserve energy.
Changing light bulbs, windows, and insulation are quick fixes that will help save energy and business costs. Even though these changes will have initial costs, the amount in energy savings will be apparent immediately. Sustainability includes using natural cleaners and products for custodial activities which helps reinforce to employees the company dedication to them and to providing a healthier work environment. Studies have shown that businesses that provide a healthier work area also benefit from fewer sick days being taken. For a small business, a single employee taking a sick day can force the business to be closed for the day, loosing that day’s profits.
Get your employees on board
Having the employees on board with a sustainability initiative is key to the success of the program. If the employees do not believe that the company is truly dedicated to the green cause, or if they do not believe that there is a true benefit to going green, then the initiative is set up for failure. Some conservation methods can be done without the employee’s direct participation, like changing the type of bulbs used. However, there are sustainability methods that the employees would be directly responsible for; these could include recycling, conservation of water, or using filtered water over bottled.
Proper education and training on why the changes can help the business and benefit the employees will limit the resistance that might be initially felt otherwise. Employees that believe in the sustainability effort will naturally promote the company by word of mouth on the changes happening at work.
Obtaining a green or sustainable award is an opportunity for free advertising as the local newspaper does an article about how your company was awarded. Smaller businesses in a larger community need this type of recognition to help bring attention to the public. Assign an employee to research various awards or recognition opportunities Find local and state awards that can be obtained easily and quickly. Then move forward and apply for federal and national level awards.
With over ninety percent of today’s businesses fit into the small or medium business category; their impact on the environment is enormous. Large corporations may attract more attention by their vast size, however, in the end the true power is in the hands of the small business owner. To help the consumer decide between businesses, a certification as a sustainable company can make all the difference. Check out www.gbb.org for more information on how to get certified. Make sure that the certification can be internet searchable and that the qualifications can be verified. Tech savvy consumers will confirm what type of certification was obtained and that it was not simply a purchased green stamp with no meaning behind it.
Keep on Task
Remember that the end goal has to be to make the world a better place. Yes, increased profits are a byproduct and inspiration for becoming a sustainable business. However, consumers will sense when a business is genuine about the sustainability tasks and goals. The companies that come out on top will be the ones that stay the course and continue to improve and grow in the areas of conservation and sustainability. Just as one must not panic with the stock market, a company must continually work to improve their green plans and goals. Staying on top of new technology and innovations will keep your business in the eye of the public and keep consumers returning, and bring in new consumers.