Does sustainability seem time-consuming, costly and confusing to you? Are you overwhelmed by the pressure you are feeling from your clients?
Recently we spoke with Adam, the owner of a booming local cafe. We were discussing with him why sustainability is important in a small business. He agreed with the ideas, but for a small business, he struggled to agree with our enthusiasm.
Sustainability and Small Business
We realised sustainability in business is seen as an inaccessible luxury. Larger firms with bigger budgets could afford to retrofit their entire office. How could we emphasise the simple benefits of sustainability, for every business?
Proving why sustainability is crucial for small business is actually simple. Profits depend on sales and costs, a simple equation. The idea that altering your processes increases profits may not make sense to begin with. This article will walk you through why sustainability is vital in any sized business.
What does sustainability mean?
Sustainability, in its simplest form, is the ability to sustain something.
Within a business, sustainability is the observation of long-term impacts of any activity. Then, once identifying any negative impacts, working towards mitigating them.
Internally, activities may impact stakeholders, costs or profits. Similarly, external impacts may be felt in the community and the environment. This is where Adam became confused. A small business has way too much to focus on. External impacts too?
We went on to explain that the internal and external impacts were from similar actions.
The importance of sustainability for small business
To breakdown why sustainability is important in a business, we need to start at the beginning. After our initial discussion with Adam, we asked him what his highest costs were.
As expected, his energy consumption was one of the first listed. For a small to medium enterprise, staff and energy often reign highest in the budget. This also happens to be the first focus area of a Sustainability Action Plan.
A Sustainability Action Plan is essential for recording the changes you make. Trust us, you’ll want to share your improvements with the world!
Sustainable practices are the implementation of sustainability-minded principles and tasks throughout the workplace. It is crucial the practices being implemented are not simply ‘face value’.
Your sustainable practices must be embedded in the core of your company. Avoid ‘greenwashing’ your organisation to make you seem ‘sustainable’. A half-hearted attempt could put your brand reputation at risk if a customer or stakeholder dig deeper.
It’s not as hard as it seems! Keep reading to discover a simple way to truly work towards sustainability.
Energy and reducing costs
Starting with energy is a good first step, but do you know where to look? An energy audit can be good to understand where your energy is being used. But, before you invest that time and money into an audit, try this simple change that can start reducing costs now.
Reduce all screen brightness to 70%
This may seem ridiculous, but hear us out. Reducing the brightness of any screens can cut their energy consumption by 20%. And, most people won’t notice the difference.
That’s 20% less energy used to power those screens and reducing the cost of your energy. You’ve now reduced an internal negative impact.
Externally, the reduction of energy consumption reduces the need for more energy sources. Which means less extraction of non-renewable resources and reducing the amount of C02 generated to power your workspace. You’re helping the planet too!
The impact reduction goes even further. You’re now saving your employees’ eyes from the blue light emitted from those screens. And, when explaining the plan to reduce your energy use, they feel proud to be a part of the organisation! This one change even increases employee morale!
Building brand trust
There’s even more. If you monitor, measure and report the changes to stakeholders, you build better brand trust. This proves you’re taking action to reduce resource use. Better reputation? Say ‘hello’ to better options for financing!
How simple is that? Now delegate the task as a monthly check to reduce all screens to 70% brightness. You won’t have to think about it again. Sustainability in business is simple and bring your significant benefits.
Sustainability: available for all
This is one of many no, or low, cost actions that you could put in place to build a more sustainable business. There are many more innovative ideas and return-on-investment options.
Have the resources? Install solar and reduce your impact on the planet 10 fold! Or, consider switching to an energy provider who uses renewables. Cheaper power, cleaner society and happier environment.
It also goes beyond energy. Look at your water use, the waste you’re producing. Sustainability is readily available for every business to start improving the planet whilst improving your back pocket!
The importance of sustainability comes down to that simple business equation we mentioned: profits depend on sales and costs. If you can influence sales through improved reputation, you increase profits! If you reduce costs through careful management of actions, you can improve the profit margin!
After explaining all this to Adam, he was beaming with clarity. How had he not noticed this earlier? Sustainability is not simply about reducing your impact on the planet. The importance of sustainability in a small business is to ensure there is a business in the future!
Why do you think sustainability is important for your business?