As small business owners move to make their operations more sustainable, they’re realizing that implementing such changes can have a positive, lasting impact overall. Budgets are more robust, employees are getting more satisfaction from their work, and local environments are changing for the better.
1. Practicing sustainability gets businesses up and running faster
Sustainability starts from the day you first open your doors. For brick-and-mortar store owners, this can be as simple as occupying an existing building instead of building new. Not only do business owners keep the concrete jungle from spreading and save additional natural resources, but they also avoid delays in opening often associated with new construction.
Occupying an existing space will also earn you points with your local community. Let’s face it, no one enjoys seeing abandoned shopping centers, unoccupied strip malls or shuttered downtown storefronts.
2. It gives employees something to be proud of
Employee morale improves when it’s clear that the company’s mission isn’t completely self-centered. Practicing business in a way that shows you value people, the community at large, and the environment generates goodwill among the people that work for you.
That’s good for business in and of itself. However, it has additional benefits including increasing your staff’s sense of responsibility and overall retention. Many employees prefer working some place where they feel they can have a positive impact.
3. Operating a sustainable business saves you money
This is the big one for most small business owners. When you see how sustainable efforts actually improve your bottom line, you’d be a fool not to make it a top priority.
You probably already know that conserving energy wherever possible will bring your operating costs down, but there’s more to consider. When efficiency becomes a way of life for your business, your mindset changes and all aspects of workflow can be improved. You’ll save time and consume fewer resources which both contribute to higher profit margins month after month.
When efficiency becomes a way of life for your business, your mindset changes and all aspects of workflow can be improved.
4. Sustainable businesses can enhance brand image
Sustainability matters to consumers, too. Consumer research indicates that buyers want to be known as conscientious shoppers and that they are often willing to pay higher prices for products and services they know are socially and environmentally responsible. So being recognized as a sustainable company enhances your overall brand image, and consumers feel like they’re doing something good when they do business with you.
5. Multiply your investment opportunities
If you’re looking to woo potential investors, practicing sustainability will make your business more attractive. The environmental and social impact of a company is one key factor that investors consider when evaluating whether or not a company is an ideal prospect. This is because sustainable businesses improve their chances of becoming and remaining profitable by reducing operating expenses through greater efficiency.
Many business owners are finding that the social and economic benefits of operating sustainably far exceed the initial costs associated with workplace improvements. Entrepreneurs are usually big picture thinkers capable of reaching long-term goals, so it makes sense that more and more are moving to sustainable practices.
Alyssa Gregory is a small business consultant, writer, speaker and collaborator who has been helping start and grow small businesses for 13 years. She is the founder of the Small Business Bonfire, a free social, educational and collaborative community for small business owners, and author of the Connect Startup Toolboxes currently available on U.S. Bank Connect.