How to develop a small business sustainability plan

21
February 2022

Believe it or not, small businesses can have a surprisingly big impact on the environment. We tend to believe it’s only the Amazon’s of the world, but we are all involved in the practices related to environmental issues. As a small business owner, it’s up to you whether that impact is positive or negative.

The trend to consider climate change and how we can save the planet is impacting every area of our lives, even business. Therefore, small business sustainability is a growing practice in the mind of environmentally conscious brands. Are you interested in becoming one? Let’s get started on everything you need to know, from consumer perception, sustainable development, and sustainability plans.

Sustainability for small businesses

Being environmentally conscious is vital to the survival of our planet, and people are starting to understand this. And with this, comes the decision of who we go to for products and services. Consumers are more willing than ever to invest in non-toxic, eco-friendly products to protect their families and the future of the planet.

Today, businesses of all sizes are choosing more environmentally sustainable practices in response, and their customers are noticing. So, turning your small business into a sustainable one is a win-win situation. To prove this change in the market and consumer perception, let’s look at some numbers:

  • 1 in 3 consumers surveyed prefers eco-friendly options.

  • Almost 50% of top US companies and 60% of international companies are investing in strategies that reduce their environmental impacts. (This is a 7% increase between 2012 and 2018 when the survey took place).

  • 68% of millennials surveyed purchased a product with an environmental benefit in the past 12 months.

  • 63% of Americans surveyed hope businesses will take the lead to drive environmental change.

As you can see, "going green" is no longer seen as a specific concept for certain brands or businesses. It's become a major element of companies' strategy to reduce environmental risks and opportunities.

Actually, 75% of companies consider consumers as one of the key drivers of risks and opportunities related to carbon emissions from their products and services. It should come as no surprise, then, that 10% more companies set carbon and water targets in the past five years.

Not only does eco-consciousness help you stay competitive in today’s market, but it sends a positive message of environmental awareness that helps elevate your brand!

Understanding sustainable development

Let’s start by understanding what this means. Sustainable development means adhering to a development system that satisfies the wants of the present without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It entails understanding the current environmental issues. By doing this you can create a balance between meeting developmental goals and sustaining the ecosystem of the economy and society by large.

Reaching the targets for sustainable development requires actions on all businesses, governments, and societies. In this case, we can see that no matter how big or small, we can all take part. Sustainability goals can even go beyond climate change and environmental degradation since it also addresses well-known global challenges like poverty and inequality.

We can break sustainable development into three categories: Economy, Environment, and Society. In 2015, all the governments of the major economies adopted the 17 sustainable development goals and signed the Climate Agreement in Paris.

Every action - no matter how small - leaves an impact on the world. For example, the unplanned development across Asia has damaged the ecological balance resulting in the contamination of rivers and reduced forest cover.

a image of a green building, representing the benefits of becoming a sustainable business

Benefits to build a sustainable business

Sustainability offers lots of benefits to small businesses when it is integrated into operations. The most important ones are:

1. Reduce Costs and Increase Productivity

The development of sustainable business practices leads to efficient operations that conserve resources and reduce costs. This includes simple energy conservation strategies like switching off unnecessary lights.

2. Create a Loyal Following

As we stated, consumer surveys have revealed that more than half of buyers consider a company’s effect on the environment while purchasing their products. They are more likely to buy from businesses that practice sustainability. Therefore, these create a relationship with your customers that goes beyond your product - it's about your values. People will start to continue coming back to your brand and attract others to join as well.

3. Helps to Follow Government Rules

Central and state agencies are enacting regulations to protect the environment. Integrating sustainable practices in your small business will help you to properly abide by them. Going even further, a sustainable business will implement changes that reduce emissions, improve air quality, and identify products that reduce concerns about health and safety liability. This promotes higher standards of public health and environmental protection.

Five steps to sustainability for a small business

Now that we have gone through the benefits and reasons behind adopting a small business sustainability plan, let’s start by covering where to start. Your small business sustainability plan’s initial costs are a wise investment! Let’s begin.

A business sustainability plan is simply something an organization develops to achieve goals that create financial, societal and environmental sustainability. A business impacts communities and resources, so taking these steps to sustainability is in the best interests of the environment, the business owner, and the consumer.

  1. Firstly, learn more about sustainability and where your business can make a few changes. This can be either from suppliers to green energy, reusable materials, or even donating to sustainability organizations.

  2. Assess where your business can make changes - like the laws in your area, the needs of your community and your target audience, or your inner challenges.

  3. Invest in innovation and the best practices to make the changes you need.

  4. Be specific about your small business’s Vision and define your sustainability model’s terms. This will help you give your employees the ability to take ownership of your overall vision.

  5. Turn your vision into a reality by communicating your new sustainability plan across your entire company and your public and changing the policies within the business. Then create specific, measurable, and attainable written goals, and develop metrics on how to track the success of your changes.

Need further guidance?

If you have an idea of where you can lead your small business sustainability plan but need financial aid to turn it into a reality, One Park Financial is here to help! If you have been in business for three months or more and that generates at least $7,500 in monthly revenue, then this might be the right funding program for you.

We can connect you with a large pool of funders who specialize in helping small business owners flourish, grow, and, of course, turn into sustainable businesses. Applying will only take a few minutes of your time. In no time, you’ll have the funds you need to move to the green side of the scale.