No business owner relishes spending extra money for something that won’t pay for itself with increased revenue, and going green as a business is no different. In fact, it might be one of the most common reasons for businesses to not make green choices – the belief that going green costs a lot more money, therefor cutting into product margins and the bottom line. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, some options for going green with your business will end up saving you money, which could either add to the margin or enable you to offer products at a lower price than your competitor.
It’s also important to realize the importance that many customers place on being an environmentally friendly business in some form or another. If you can clearly communicate what you do that makes your business green, and why you choose to do so, you’ll give new customers another reason to buy from you and not your competitor.
Green Your Business With These 25 Tips:
- Integrate green into your business plan: Start designing green into your business from day one. Include the environmental aspects of your product or service in your business plan.
- Combine manufacturing processes: Does your business have multiple steps in manufacturing? An audit to see about combining two or more processes may save you money and energy in the long run.
- Use waste as resource: What types of waste does your business generate? Can any of it be repurposed or used in any way as a resource for the company? What about for another business?
- Consider alternative materials: When sourcing materials, investigate the not-s0-obvious alternatives, considering the eco-friendliness of each one. It might be that the greener option doesn’t have a significantly higher cost associated with it, and can be used as a green marketing hook.
- Make an everyday item green: Take an everyday item and create a green version of it. Is there something we use all the time that could be made more environmentally friendly? New niches pop up all the time, so don’t be afraid to explore green options of mundane objects.
- Green marketing: Make strides to green your marketing efforts. Go digital, using social media, a blog, PPC or banner advertising to reach customers. Many times the cost is much lower than traditional marketing practices because there is no physical deliverable, and because the internet is a real-time network, you can adjust your copy or placement over and over until you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
- Green office: Take your office supplies and space to the next green level by making eco-friendly choices in your business office. Sometimes going green in the office means choosing a greener alternative, but it may also mean looking at your current situation and figuring out what you don’t need to purchase anymore.
- Choose renewable energy: Power your operations with renewable energy, or consider investing in alternative power for your business. In many places, an alternative energy option is available from the power company, usually for a small price premium above regular rates. If using green energy can be a bigger selling point for your business, consider thinking of the premium as part of your marketing budget.
- Write your environmental mission statement: Craft a green mission statement and display it prominently, periodically reviewing it for relevancy. Having a clear vision helps to define how and why you try to be greener, and it helps to communicate it to customers as well.
- Build a company culture conducive to reuse and recycling: Making recycling and reuse the norm within your business means it will flourish without having to force those habits on people.
- Source your materials from green suppliers: Investigate your options for sourcing your materials and give more weight to green businesses. Purchasing local or from a green business doesn’t always carry an extra cost – in fact, it might make more sense in terms of overall impact to make those choices. Again, it can all be a part of your business’ unique selling points.
- Source materials and services locally: Can you source the materials or services needed for your business from the local area? Local sourcing helps eliminate any excess transportation impact, while supporting businesses located nearby.
- Encourage ridesharing and alternative transportation: Giving employees incentives to share rides or ride their bikes, coupled with telecommuting options, will help to green your business.
- Use teleconferencing instead of physical meetings: Does your company really need all those face-to-face meetings, or could they be held virtually? Use teleconferencing or video calls to conserve on transportation, and explore the many free options available to you, such as Skype.
- Clean green: Purchase eco-friendly alternatives for cleaning and maintaining your business office and manufacturing site. In some industries, there aren’t many green options for cleaning or maintenance, but for many businesses, there’s a greener alternative for just about any cleaning supplies.
- Green the air: Clean the air in your operations by using live plants, and consider installing an air filtration system to protect employees and customers. Encourage employees or customers to bring in plants for your office, and ask the resident green thumb to take on watering responsibilities.
- Ditch the fax machine: Opt to send incoming to faxes to your computer instead of printing them, and send your faxes that way as well. It’s one less piece of equipment to maintain and supply power to.
- Paperless banking and billing: Choose paperless statements from your bank, your suppliers, your utilities, and pay your invoices electronically to save on paper waste.
- On-site rainwater collection: Install rainwater collection equipment for watering your landscape. Low-cost alternatives might be landscaping with water harvesting in mind, or finding used 55 gallon barrels instead of purchasing new containers.
- Maintain all equipment for maximum efficiency: How long has it been since you’ve last cleaned out the fans and filters on your equipment? Do you have a regular maintenance schedule for your devices? Well maintained equipment will pump up your energy and time efficiency.
- Conduct a life-cycle assessment for your product: Your manufacturing process might have unnecessary steps or materials, and assessing the life-cycle of your products and processes can help to identify cost or time savings.
- Join green business groups: Use green business networks to learn from other successful green businesses or to form partnerships or collaborate with them. In an effective network, any cost associated with joining will probably more than pay for itself through increased knowledge, customers, or collaboration.
- Eliminate all disposables from company operations: What items do you regularly purchase for your business that are considered disposable? Can they be replaced with a durable or permanent option? Investing in a longer-lasting version might also be a way of cutting your costs over time.
- Choose green phone and internet service: Explore the option of getting your phone and internet services from a green or socially responsible company. Making the choice to patronize another green business says a lot about a company, and can be used prominently in your green marketing efforts.
- Appoint a sustainability director: Assign one person in your business the responsibility for coordinating your green efforts. With one person accountable for sustainability, you’ll be better able to track your green projects.
You don’t run your business as a non-profit, or just for kicks – you do it for an income, to create revenue for yourself and your family. And going green doesn’t have to run counter to that purpose – going green in your business can go hand in hand with making more money, either through cost savings, increased sales, or a combination of both. Communicating your green message also helps to create a compelling argument for customers to choose your company over a competitor, and might just lead to opening up new markets for your products or services.