So now, after reading my earlier article, Green Business Opportunities, you’re committed.
You are convinced that going green is something you want to build into your business. You are ready to do it.
The question becomes, how?
For existing small businesses, going green can be a lot of things. It can mean anything from a wellness program for your employees to reducing your energy consumption to making a green (or greener) product. Or perhaps it means committing to a sustainable business model — a cradle to grave effort.
Tips for Going Green in Your Existing Business
Here are some tips for how to transform your existing business:
- Figure out what going green means for you. This varies by business. What makes sense for your business? You need to find what the Harvard Business Review called the “shared value”. In other words, does your effort create a “meaningful benefit for society that is also valuable to the business”?
- Educate yourself about green issues. And stay up to date. Here are two books for an overview of green issues. The Rough Guide to Shopping with a Conscience by Duncan Clark and Richie Unterberger. Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century, edited by Alex Steffen.
- Find opportunities relative to your business. If you sell office supplies, it probably doesn’t make sense for you to sponsor a program at a nursing home. Instead, maybe you could open a section or your store with sustainable supplies. You could solicit supply donations to a school in your area. Or if you’re in a relatively affluent area — then donate to a sister school in a disadvantaged area.
- Recognize the value of a being a small local business. Realize it is an advantage in consumers’ eyes. Kemi Osukoya wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Many green consumers tend to see a small, local business as naturally more environmentally sound than a sprawling multinational. And small businesses can provide a personal touch that big ones can’t — which can be important when selling complicated eco-friendly wares.”
- Actively engage in and promote a sustainable life. Think beyond what you sell. Walk the talk. Be authentically green by consciously using less energy, trying to find local suppliers so your carbon footprint is smaller, and even live a green personal life. As a small business you owe nothing to shareholders or investors. In the eyes of consumers, this may make your business more trustworthy. The payback? Loyal customers, a decent business, and the satisfaction that you are doing good.
- Tell people about your green efforts. Tell customers and suppliers and anyone else. Put it on your website. Local papers and local television news always like a good story. Position your business as part of a larger story about how local businesses in the area are trying to improve the planet in lots of different ways. And don’t underestimate the value of blogs. Write an article, offer an interview to a green blog — there are loads of them.
Here’s a good list of “green blogs”. Check out their social media channels, too: