Greening Your Small Business: Book Review

Greening Your Small Business by Jennifer KaplanI’m not a good steward of the environment. I don’t recycle as much as I can, I drink bottled water when it’s available and I just don’t have time to make the extra effort that it takes to “be green.”

And you want to know something else? My final work in graduate school was titled “Using Sustainability as Competitive Advantage.” So if you’re one of these people who has been conflicted about getting green, know that you are not alone in this.

Thankfully, Jennifer Kaplan provided me a review copy of her new book “Greening Your Small Business” in time to include it in my 2009 must-read books for small business series.

Three Reasons Greening Your Small Business is a Winner

Greening your small business was chosen as an Editor’s Pick in our 2009 Book Awards for good reasons.

  • First, it’s timely. “Going Green” is a global trend that has reached a tipping point. To ignore it is to be out of touch.
  • Second, this book is practical and well written. It speaks to the business audience in their language and focuses on what’s important to us:  customers, savings, branding oh yes, and saving the planet.
  • And third, it’s LOADED with easy things you can do in the next 10 minutes that had even me thinking seriously about going green.

Jennifer Kaplan got the idea for writing the book from doing some research for a client who wanted to green her business. She discovered that there were lots of tips for homeowners, but very few for businesses. She found a lot of information out there, but it was all over the place and when she heard herself think “Someone should write a book about this” she was the one who did.

Written For Business Owners

Jennifer is completely focused on her audience, the small business owner, and the questions and concerns we have around what it means to “go green.” She hits on those nagging politically incorrect questions that we keep inside for fear of being seen as “unhip” or “out-of-touch” like:

  • What does going green mean exactly?
  • Is this going to cost me a fortune?
  • What the impact on profitability?
  • What about my customers? Will it make a difference to them?
  • Is this going to be so hard and inconvenience me?

Let me tell you something, these are exactly the questions I had in my head BEFORE I ever cracked the front cover. And when I started reading, I realized, Jennifer had me (and maybe you too) pegged.

Inside Greening Your Small Business

There are two main sections to the book and a useful Appendix:

  • Developing Your Green Plan: This is where she gives you context and history behind what green means. She includes statistics on how consumers think about “green” and why it’s good for your business. She basically holds your hand through the mental journey of deciding that this is good for business, profits, customers and ultimately the planet.
  • Assessing Your Green Options: Now that you’ve decided that you’re at least willing to stick your toe in the “green” waters, this section will help you identify the literally THOUSANDS of opportunities you have to go green.
  • The Appendix: In this section, you’ve got the going green checklist and a supplier sustainability Questionnaire.

Insights From Greening Your Small Business

Perhaps the biggest and best insight I got from this book is the realization that I didn’t have to become a “green eco nazi” to take my business in the green direction. Many of Jennifer’s suggestions were things I could easily do without sacrificing cost or lifestyle :

“Change HVAC filters monthly during peak heating and cooling seasons.”

“Use cold or colder water whenever possible”

“Use timers to turn lights on and off automatically.”

“Install a programmable thermostat”

Hundreds and maybe thousands more tips are included in this book. They range from the simple (like the ones I listed here) to the more committed and intense.

Who This Book is For

If you’re in a business that sells to consumers, especially consumers for whom being environmentally conscious is a basis for which they might choose you, you can’t afford not to get this.

Perhaps you’re a small business that’s looking to cut costs and save money? Going green is a wonderful win-win strategy that will help you control costs, create less waste and endear you to customers.

If you’re already on the path to greening your business, this book might uncover tips you might have missed AND it will help you create an organization around being green.

Overall Greening Your Small Business is more than a great book. It’s a resource guide to going green. Pick it up and see how your business profits.

For more tips on Greening Your Small Business, check out the 100 Green Small Business Tips our readers contributed!

Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."