Does size matter?

Source: Sustainable Industries.com

Why every small business should be thinking about sustainability

Small businesses are arguably more affected by the financial pressures and resource constraints in responding to dramatic changes in the market. Operating or owning a small business has never been for the faint of heart, and over the past decade, radical shifts in government policy, the financial world, and technology (particularly how we communicate) have presented even more challenges — and opportunities — for entrepreneurs.

For many small business executives and entrepreneurs, just surviving day-to-day is often the ultimate goal. However, by aligning business sustainability incentives with daily operations, small business owners are now initiating proactive business sustainability actions. Why? Because sustainability and small business are a perfect match. How so? Small business is often perfectly suited for sustainability implementation. Small business operations are generally more in touch with:

  • Employees: engaging and actively managing employees on an individual level
  • Investors: closely working business relationships to meet the expectations of stakeholders and investors
  • Customers: working directly with consumers and business customers to deliver products that meet specific requirements and delivery expectations
  • Suppliers: directly communicating with a smaller set of business partnerships often directly integrated into the business operations

There are many payoffs of green business to the owners. Sustainability reduces business cost. Business strategies of waste reduction, energy efficiency, and other operational efficiency measures reduce costs and enable competitiveness. Additionally, by incorporating sustainability principles into an existing supply chain as best practices, companies can proactively address supply stability and quality issues from a different perspective.

Sustainability improves sales. Business reputation matters. Developing and delivering commercially successful products and services that build customer loyalty are essential in today’s markets. Sustainability efforts enable a business to:

  • Integrate sustainability into product and service development
  • Shift sustainability from a cost add-on to a value driver
  • Change perceptions to build stronger brands

The result: increase sales, new revenue streams, improved brand loyalty.

Sustainability in small business is gaining momentum. These companies are defining opportunities for improvement, linking them to specific business metrics, and creating scorecards to evaluate success. With the ability to demonstrate visibility and control, companies open themselves up to financial and business growth opportunities in new markets and with a larger number of customers. With improved worker productivity, reduced costs, and an improved brand reputation, it’s easy to see why.

Julie Urlaub is the founder and managing partner of Taiga Company, a sustainability social media consulting firm, where she aids clients to powerfully engage in sustainability-related issues and stakeholder communications in the social space. She can be contacted at www.taigacompany.com | @taigacompany | Facebook/TaigaCompany