Ecopreneurship - How To Build a Greener Business
If you run (or hope to run) a small business, one way to stand out from the crowd is to emphasize the "green" elements of your business in your marketing. To truly be able to do that, however, you need to have green policies in place and understand the impact your business has on the environment as well as the options you have for reducing that impact.
What Goes Into Running a Sustainable Business?
Today's consumers are environmentally conscious, and that spills over into their shopping habits and brand preferences. It's not enough to simply put recycling bins in your office. If you want to be considered green, your business needs to make an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. That means:
Reducing unnecessary travel
Choosing local suppliers where possible
Considering the impact your products have on the environment
Encouraging environmentally friendly working practices
The cost of starting a business can be as little as $12 for a hosting package and domain name, or tens of thousands of dollars if you're looking to rent premises. Going green limits your choices of suppliers and may mean you incur further costs.
Brands can do well using the "green" angle, however. Whole Foods Market started in 1980 with a simple idea, selling healthy food in a sustainable way. More recently, Lyft achieved commercial success by marketing itself as carbon neutral.
Building a Sustainable Business
There are some "passive" strategies you can choose to reduce waste. For example, you can install motion sensors in your office, so people don't have to think about turning the lights on and off. In addition, you can encourage people to work from home rather than commuting (and wasting gasoline).
Another option is to go paperless. Use emails and PDFs instead of printouts. If your team struggles to share large files over email, compress a PDF online to reduce the file size without reducing the quality of the text and images. Once people feel confident doing this sort of thing, they'll be happier emailing instead of using memory sticks or printouts.
Grants and loans are available from the government to help businesses embrace green practices. Consider if any options are available for your industry that could offset some of the expense of green technology.
Marketing Yourself as a Green Brand
Once you've got sustainable practices in place, the next strategy is to market yourself based on those plans. Make sure you practice what you preach. If you're talking about reducing paper waste, don't start handing out flyers. Consider the 4Ps of green marketing:
Publish your green policies online, and use online marketing, local sponsorships, and other low-waste strategies to spread the word. Be transparent in your marketing efforts, and share your journey as you re-evaluate your green efforts.
Sustainability Is an Ongoing Effort
Running a sustainable business requires planning and continuous re-evaluation. Look at ways to reduce waste, such as going paperless and reducing travel, and share your policies and efforts with your customers to build a good reputation.
If you're interested in learning more about building and marketing a green business, or you just want to network with like-minded people, consider joining your local chamber of commerce.
This Hot Deal is promoted by Sherwood Area Chamber of Commerce.