Starting your own business can be both challenging and exciting. When starting a new business, you need to consider many things, including your startup costs, your target audience, and where you want your business to be located.
Another important consideration that many businesses overlook is sustainability. To find out what this is, why it is essential, and how to make your business more sustainable, check out the article below:
What is Sustainability in Business?
As you may already know, we are facing irreparable changes in the Earth's structure. The danger of climate change is now too significant to disregard. The exceedance of environmental thresholds raises concerns about the domino effects in society and global natural systems.
To try and prevent us from reaching the point of no return, countries worldwide have to look for ways to be more sustainable and reduce climate change. But what does this mean in terms of business?
Sustainability in business refers to a business's strategy to decrease the negative environmental impact resulting from its operations in a specific market. A business's sustainable practices are often analysed against social, environmental, and governance metrics.
The Importance of Sustainability in Business
When you first open a business, your primary concern is making money. However, this isn't the only thing businesses should focus on when setting out. Another thing that all business owners need to take into account is sustainability. Here are some of the reasons why sustainability is essential in business:
It impacts the environment â€“ Perhaps the most crucial reason businesses need to be sustainable is to help protect the environment. If businesses choose not to do this, they are playing a part in helping to destroy our planet. Sustainable businesses help protect nature and make conscious efforts to conserve natural resources.
Improve business image - If you've read a newspaper lately, there's a good chance you've seen an article about a company that uses crude business practices, such as negligence, human rights issues, and polluting the environment. While you may have overlooked this article, articles like this can do a lot of damage to the company's image. Many customers choose to avoid companies that do not consider these matters. On the other hand, businesses that make efforts to be sustainable are likely to have a better image in the eyes of their customers. Over 80% of customers now look at the behaviour of a business before purchasing goods or services from them.
It can help keep costs low â€“ sustainable businesses have much lower operational costs. This is because they are much more efficient than non-sustainable businesses. One example of this is the managed service provider that saved a whopping $11 million through transparency and sustainable waste management.
It impacts people â€“ a recent survey found that businesses that care about the environment and follow sustainable practices are much more likely to care about their customers, employees, and society as a whole. They work to empower local communities and think about how they can do good for others.
It can help you to find investors â€“ in 2020, over 85% of investors considered sustainability in their decisions. This means that businesses need to ensure they are sustainable if they want to attract investors.
It can help you to attract top talent â€“ in 2023, millennials make up the most significant proportion of the workforce. However, hiring millennials isn't always as easy as it sounds. These individuals will take a lot into account before accepting a job offer. One of the things millennials will look at is a business's sustainability credentials. A recent survey found that over 40% of these young people have taken a job because of a company's sustainability credentials. Many of these individuals also stated that they were happy to receive less money in order to work at a company that took their environmental responsibility seriously.
It can allow you to leverage new opportunities â€“ businesses with a strong sustainability proposition are much more likely to find it easy to explore new markets, such as China and the Far East, and expand into existing ones.
How to Make Your Business More Sustainable
Becoming a sustainable business is no small feat, which is why only a small number of businesses in the UK and worldwide can classify themselves as sustainable. However, even if your business cannot be considered sustainable, it is worth making changes. Here are some small things businesses can do to make their business more sustainable:
Make sustainability your mission â€“ whether you have an already established business or are starting one from scratch, it's a good idea to incorporate sustainability into your company's mission. You can do this by creating a concise declaration that summarises your sustainability goals. You must include information such as why sustainability is essential to your company, your sustainability goals, and how you plan to achieve them.
Create a green product â€“ if your company produces products, try and find ways to make these more sustainable. For example, you could use sustainable materials and source your materials locally and from ethical providers.
Go green when you can â€“ no matter what type of business you own, there are things you can do to improve sustainability. For example, a construction company can employ sustainable practices on their job sites, such as managing waste effectively and using fuel-efficient machinery.
Think about your back office â€“ while very few customers will spend time in your back office, it's essential to do what you can to make this area of your business more sustainable. There are some simple ways you can do this. For example, you could replace your lighting with more energy-efficient alternatives and go paperless. As well as this, you can encourage your employees to turn off machinery and computers when not in use. These things will not only help protect the environment, but they can also help reduce business costs.
Give back to your local community â€“ charitable giving is a crucial part of a sustainability strategy. There are several ways you can give to charity. You can give money, your time, or any unused materials.
Encourage remote work â€“ while not all businesses can enable their employees to work from home, many can. Allowing your employees to work from home is a great way to improve sustainability in a business.
Store and ship your products sustainably â€“ once you have produced your goods, you will need to store and ship them to their destination. The great news is that this can be done more sustainably. We will discuss how to do this later in the article.
Make The Shipping Process More Sustainable
As mentioned above, businesses can do many things to improve their sustainability, including making their shipping process more sustainable. If you want to know how to achieve this, here are some top tips for you:
1. Choose an environmentally friendly shipping provider â€“ whether you're looking to ship your products by seafreight or air freight, looking for an environmentally friendly shipping provider is vital. For example, when choosing a Seafreight Provider, you should ensure they use sustainable methods and eco-friendly transportation solutions.
2. Ship in bulk â€“ if your business is small, it may be impossible to ship in bulk. However, if you own a large business, you should consider this option. Shipping in bulk saves on fuel utilisation and reduces freight space.
3. Think about your packaging â€“ another consideration when trying to make your shipping process more sustainable is your packaging. While ensuring your goods are appropriately packaged to avoid damage is crucial, you can do this with eco-friendly alternatives. For example, you could consider using compostable mailers and recycled craft paper to package your products.
4. Don't use oversized packaging â€“ reducing packaging waste is one of the easiest ways to make your shipping process more sustainable. A recent study found that an average package wastes 40% of its packaging space. This can have several adverse environmental effects, including increasing carbon footprint.
5. Insulate the storage area â€“ most warehouses in the UK are made of metal sheeting that is poorly insulated. While these buildings are cheap to erect, they are not sustainable. This is particularly true in winter as heat can easily escape from these buildings. To prevent this from happening, it's advisable to insulate your warehouses.
6. Think about your return strategy â€“ while it would be nice not to receive customer returns, almost all businesses do. This can have a negative impact on the environment. To try and reduce your impact, it's a good idea to think about your return strategy. One option is to not to ask your customer to return the defective item. Instead, allow them to keep it.
Over 48% of businesses in the UK now prioritise sustainability. However, this isn't enough to slow climate change. More businesses need to take climate change seriously. One way they can do this is by making their shipping process more sustainable. Thankfully, this is easier to achieve than you'd expect. You can do this by following our advice above.