Is your business climate-forward? The climate might seem outside the purview of your small to medium-sized businesses, but no business is immune when extreme weather events disrupt global supply chains. Meanwhile, consumer demand for sustainable business practices and products is skyrocketing and customers are ditching brands that violate their values. Employees, too, prefer to work with organizations that align with their values.
It doesn’t matter if your business has 5,000 employees or 50. If you want to start and grow a resilient business, you need to adapt to climate-related risks and market pressures. Strategies from Genesis Resiliency to improve your company’s climate resiliency include using their operational resiliency methodology and business disruption scenarios. See the latest quarterly business disruption scenarios to identify how you would need to continue business if your competitors are marketing their Net-Zero Emission policies and Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) practices.
What about the budget?
The cost of sustainable business practices is a top concern cited by business owners. The reality is, businesses have a lot more to lose by not factoring the environment into business decisions. Nonetheless, cost drives decision-making.
Sustainable practices needn’t be cost-prohibitive, however. Green practices reduce waste, conserve energy, and bolster your brand as a business and employer, all of which benefit your bottom line. When eco-conscious practices do come at a premium, 64% of Americans and 75% of Millennials are willing to pay more.
The biggest costs of going green are associated with transitioning from conventional to sustainable business practices, which is why new entrepreneurs should build sustainability into their business from Day One. Not only will you save money by integrating green practices up-front, you’ll position your new brand on the cutting edge of corporate social responsibility. If you’ve been on the fence about starting a green business, now is the time to take the leap!
How to start implementing sustainable business practices
Here’s where to start developing your business sustainability plan.
Understand what it means to be a sustainable business. Reducing negative impact on the environment is at the core of sustainability. Sustainable practices include reducing waste, preventing pollution, and choosing eco-friendly materials, products, and suppliers.
Identify key areas for improvement. Consider how changes impact the environment as well as your business reputation. Adopting renewable energy, switching to eco-friendly packaging, building a fuel-efficient fleet, and investing in carbon offsets are examples of impactful changes that also boost public image.
Choose sustainable business partners. Businesses should develop a set of standards for evaluating manufacturers and suppliers to ensure they meet sustainability standards. Trust signals like LEED building standards, TRUE Zero Waste certification, and B Lab certification also help businesses choose partners.
Evaluate supply chain risks. Supply chain disruptions are another important factor when vetting suppliers. In addition to raising inventory levels to prevent business interruptions, evaluate suppliers’ disaster preparedness and consider building geographic variability and redundancy into the supply chain.
Showcasing sustainable business practices
Sustainable practices give businesses a competitive advantage, but only if customers are aware of them. Marketing is a key way that businesses create value through corporate social responsibility.
Sustainable marketing promotes a business’s environmentally-responsible products, practices, and values. A sustainable marketing strategy should weave the concept of sustainability throughout a brand rather than treating green initiatives as a separate endeavor.
This may require rebranding to create a strong bond between green initiatives and your core brand and avoid the risks of greenwashing. When searching for digital marketing agencies to guide your rebrand, look for expertise specifically in green branding and marketing.
Third-party corporate social responsibility certifications add credence to sustainability claims. In addition to formalizing your commitment to the environment, certifications strengthen consumer trust. The most popular certifications for sustainable businesses are B Corp Certification and Green Business Bureau certification.
Climate change brings new concerns to the forefront of the business world, but along with risks and challenges come opportunities. As you prepare to launch or grow a business, consider how sustainable practices can benefit your reputation, resilience, and bottom line. While short-term sustainability investments can seem intimidating, they’re the answer to long-term business resiliency in the face of climate change.
Martin Gierczak, Founder