Driving ahead the revolution in clean growth
30th July 2019
The environmental agenda creates a curious dichotomy in the business world. As individuals we, of course, care about the future of the planet and the legacy we are leaving our children. As business owners, there is already so much to do, however, and ‘going green’ can often slip down the priority list.
It’s not just a necessary evil…
Don’t be fooled into thinking that sustainable business practices are just for the purposes of good PR and marketing (though, let’s be honest, it’s good for that too). Thinking about your environmental footprint now can really help you out as you grow.
- By setting the agenda of clean growth now, you are embedding it as part of the culture within your organisation while it is still small enough to embrace it. Shifting the culture in an organisation of 50 is significantly easier than in an organisation of 1000 and much more so than in one of 10,000.
- Once implemented, sustainable practices are usually cheaper. For example, savings on utility bills by installing motion sensitive lighting and solar thermal water systems can pay for themselves in the long run.
- As the global crisis worsens, it is inevitable that more legislation will be implemented with tighter controls for businesses. By taking action now, those changes will be easy to manage and could well put you ahead of the competition.
Asking the ‘clean’ questions
Making sustainable decisions is as much mindset as it is about having specific policies. For every decision you make ask yourself:
- Is this the most planet-friendly way to do this? As an example, if you currently provide plastic cutlery in your kitchen, could you move to bamboo or metal? Do you need to print documents, or can you use a tablet to review it electronically instead? Do people really need to travel for this meeting, or could we do it online?
- What current investments in sustainability will give me longer term savings? Smart buildings for example, are now a reality and, just as Alexa will turn on the heating in your house as you leave the office, so can it turn down the power in the office as the last person leaves. And, even in simple areas, you can make a big difference – getting your office boiler serviced regularly can make a big difference to its efficiency.
- What can I do to offset our environmental impact? Where there is no easy way to reduce your impact, are there ways to compensate? Carbon-offset schemes are the most obvious of these (planting trees and investing in clean energy to offset the damage done from modern living) but there are other ways to do this too. At Grant-Jones for example, we are a Business for Good, which means we support projects which contribute to the UN 2030 sustainability goals, every time we do certain work for clients.
What can you be doing now?
You can’t ‘go green’ in an instant – but you can ‘grow green’ as you build your business and shape your future.
- Involve your team – ask for suggestions on ways to improve and be prepared to take suggestions seriously and empower them to build a business case. At first suggestion it may feel like a big expense to build cycle racks but if it encourages enough people to cycle to work, how many car parking spaces could you release? And what would that save the business in rent?
- Rate your current ‘green’ credentials – this need not be complicated. While having a ‘ratings card’ like the kind you see on many white goods would be fantastic, even knowing what percentage of cost of your goods and services relate to energy consumption and water usage is a start. Being aware is the first step to making change – and if you feel really brave, you can share this with customers.
- Build sustainability into your business planning- setting targets and including investment in the capital budgets as well as forecasting cost reductions in overheads as you move to more sustainable practices.
- Review your systems – to see that they are also taking the clean agenda into account. As an example, if the current process is for meetings to be held face to face, can you move to virtual meetings to reduce travel?
And, if you need help to explore the costs and benefits of a green business, Grant-Jones Accountancy has a range of services and knowledge to offer as part of its Business Growth Services. For a free initial review and to learn more, contact us now.