Smaller businesses have limited resources at their disposal to help them become more eco-friendly. They also face a specific set of challenges due to their size and stature.
However, if you are running your own small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), then you are not powerless to improve. Should you adopt a proactive mindset, your SME can employ various measures to better its situation and that of the planet. It is arguably your moral obligation to keep innovating here as an entrepreneur.
Still, the changes can be challenging, and certain business leaders may shy away from redefining many of their processes. In the UK, 30% of smaller firms have no intention of becoming more sustainable, despite their government’s commitments to slashing emissions. SMEs are often in vulnerable positions at the best of times, and overhauling their already waning operations may not seem viable during a pandemic.
That said, time is of the essence. The decisions you make here as a leader of an SME are crucial. If you are short on incentives to go green as a small business leader, then keep reading.
Having a Collective Mindset
Some SMEs may perceive themselves as having a degree of anonymity, as they are not typically widely known by the public. Therefore, they may be under the false assumption that their actions are largely inconsequential on a grander scale.
However, SMEs are part of a collective. They are dependent on one another in propping up their respective industries, generating interest in consumer trends, and of course, protecting the environment. If smaller businesses start to abandon their efforts to better the planet’s wellbeing, others may assume that their own efforts are too ‘smaller scale’ to make a lasting difference.
Eco-friendly measures are a teambuilding exercise. All firms need to rally together to make a substantial impact on creating a sustainable environment. If you are unwilling to implement greener measures so far, try to consider how your actions may be affecting others. Are you a small business that can quietly shirk its responsibilities, or are you a part of something bigger?
Using the Societal Reset
The pandemic was devastating in many respects. Many businesses collapsed into nothing, while others were wounded, reevaluating their positions in their respective marketplaces.
However, there were some silver linings. For example, the reduced economic activity helped the environment considerably. Still, while things have slowly started to revert to how they were pre-pandemic, now could be an opportune moment for your SME to utilize this pivotal moment in history.
For many entrepreneurs, the emergence of the coronavirus has also been a time for sobering reflections. They have questioned how their business can persevere and how they must adapt to survive. It is a process that is still ongoing. Therefore, it may be a good idea to ask yourself questions like:
- If my SME is currently in a recovery process, could I make it a green recovery?
- Should I be trying to help my SME to survive or thrive?
- Could I hold myself more accountable for my decisions in ways that others have recently?
- How responsible should I feel for making the world a better place in times of struggle?
Though times are uncertain, it might be that this ‘societal reset’ is an excellent opportunity to restructure your business in numerous ways. From your profound sense of values to how you perceive your place on the industry stage, eco-friendly measures can bring clarity to your SME’s sense of purpose and importance.
Reading Your Customers
There is a sense worldwide of new beginnings taking place. Even if your attitudes to eco-friendly measures may not have changed too much, your customers may have other ideas in mind.
Last year, a study revealed that two-thirds of North Americans preferred eco-friendly brands, and it is unlikely things have gone the other way since. It is a cliché rule, but the saying that the ‘customer is always right’ does ring true. Ignoring the wants of your target audience can only spell bad things for business, especially if the pandemic has bruised your smaller company enough in recent times. Ultimately, your customer’s demands double as your roadmap to success.
Remember, you may have struggled as an SME leader during the pandemic, but you have not been alone in any of your bad luck. Most people have faced some manner of hardship recently. If you can supply your customers with any form of hope after such a bleak period, your SME can be a beacon of light in darker times. After that, your business could feasibly boom, as customers may be willing to pay substantially more for green products and services.
As 30% of UK small businesses proved, not every SME is willing to introduce sustainable measures. Perhaps your methods would grant you a competitive advantage? After your efforts, you may become your customer’s preferred SME, as they feel good about your firm and themselves when trading with you.
Inspiring Further Opportunities
Sustainability is often seen as an endgame solution. However, for savvy entrepreneurs, it can merely be a starting point to a brand-new world of opportunity.
For instance, this guide to accepting digital payments can teach you how eco-friendly these measures can be by creating a paper-free economy. Not only this, but the digital payment can also increase company efficiency, boost revenue, cut costs, and make your firm more accessible to a wider variety of customers. Therefore, sustainability can be the beginning of a new trajectory for your small business.
Of course, trading in an uncertain or vulnerable economic period is highly challenging for SMEs. Therefore, you should utilize every advantage in your arsenal. So long as you play your part, sustainability can be rewarding. You would be helping the environment, but at the same time, enabling the prospects of your SME to truly flourish.
Benefitting Your Employees
Of course, a win for your business is also a win for your employees. As the SME begins to reap the rewards of being sustainable, staff could also be treated to perks and pay rises as you see fit.
All good employers want to look after their employees. However, a smaller firm means less staff, which might mean that you are closer to your workers. Consequently, you may be more acutely aware of their needs. Running a more sustainable firm may address many of their concerns and nurture a more inclusive, caring, and considerate work culture.
Sustainable measures that may benefit your staff include:
- Work from home schemes – if employees are not travelling to and from work each day, they will slash emissions. At the same time, this arrangement may be ideal for them if they need time away from the workplace for personal reasons.
- Introducing more plants – Plants oxygenate rooms and reduce air pollution. They can also be visually appealing and mood-boosting inclusions to a workspace, so incorporating some greenery could be helpful.
- Utilizing sustainable cleaning products – Cleaning products often contain hazardous chemicals, creating pollution and endangering staff if they encounter them. However, their eco-friendly variants are biodegradable and far less dangerous.
Many employees may also wish to work for an SME that simply does the right thing. Succeed in this, and you may create a work culture that your staff are fully invested in and loyal to. Being a sustainable SME means going the extra mile. If you cannot do that yourself, then how can you expect your employees to have a similar attitude to their work?
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