Taking steps to build eco-awareness into your business product and culture not only keeps you competitive in the eye’s of today’s millennial workers and customers, it enables you to reinvest your energy cost savings into other areas of your business. Here are practical ways to implement a sustainability strategy into your small business today to benefit the environment and your business growth.
Tap into Your Local Chamber of Commerce
While multi-national corporations have been testing the waters for years, smaller firms are challenged and hesitant to jump in with both feet, from a cost and expertise perspective. Mega-corporations the size of Google, Walmart, Apple or General Motors have banded together to benefit from their combined purchasing power with cost-saving programs, under the umbrella of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance.
But what are there similar initiatives curtailed for smaller businesses?
The Chamber for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE) is a five-year-old nationwide organization that represents 2,000 chambers of commerce throughout the United States.
Of recent date, the organization serves as a catalyst for clean-energy innovation and growth while helping to diversify local economies. According to Executive Director, Diane Doucette:
In surveying hundreds of local chambers from around the country, we found that chambers are eager to help their member companies tap into growing clean-energy markets.
Local chambers are trusted business experts in their communities and have a unique ability to bring together policymakers, regulators, entrepreneurs, investors, academics, nonprofit groups, and labor around economic development and the emerging clean-energy economy.
Created and led by local chambers, CICE helps chambers and their member companies (made up mainly of small businesses) navigate the clean-energy space.
Reach out to your local chamber of commerce to find out if there are any clean energy initiatives and programs available to support your business.
With a growing network of more than 325 participating chambers representing more than 278,000 businesses from 48 states, the CICE includes chamber executives from every region of the country.
Scale Your Costs with Cloud Solutions
As the barriers to entry lessen, the cloud market for small business continues to expand. More business users are privvy to using apps and SaaS products, creating more opportunity and incentive for business operators to transition to software and internet based applications.
What’s more, technology in the cloud communications space is rapidly advancing. Innovators like Telzio add new features and improvements to an already robust platform several times throughout the year. With a singular focus on business communications, Telzio has the capability to use the newest breakthrough technologies to enhance performance and develop cutting-edge communication tools for business users. By subscribing to a cloud communication platform like Telzio that is constantly innovating, your system will continuously be powered by the best technologies available without investing your own IT resources.
Why invest in on-premise devices and apps when a more advantageous SaaS offering may become available in the near future?
Cloud solutions allow you to spend only on what you need to now, and rapidly evolve as better and more cost-effective options are introduced.
According to the globally managed service company ShoreGroup, one of their recent reports noted:
An organization might pay to run an application that requires ten virtual servers. When their app becomes more cost-effective to purchase as a SaaS solution, they can power down the virtual servers and eliminate the infrastructure costs. If they had purchased hardware instead, then their money is gone forever.
By sharing the cost of running your services in the cloud, you can scale your energy and server costs, as well as avoid long term maintenance and provisioning costs of running physical hardware.
Find a Value-Added IT Partner
The growth of small business often is weighed down by too much infrastructure and hardware issues. Without a fully operational IT department, business operators are caught too often shifting focus to address IT issues versus growing their businesses. One solution to the infrastructure dilemma is to contract a managed service provider (MSP) that specializes in areas like small business networks, computer support, and security.
Rather than investing in a limited IT staff of your own, an outsourced IT partner can offer a full team of experts when you need them.
IT partners can offer overall support for day-to-day operations and on-demand support as needed. The right IT partner will add value and cost savings by understanding the best products and solutions for your business.
Pricing models can vary from a subscription fee or per seat basis. Many full-bundle offerings provide flexible 24/7/365 remote support, on-site support and lab or bench time for an entire organization for a flat fee.
Start with the 20/5 Rule
According to energy analysts, small businesses could save up to 20 percent through simple initiatives that produce quick results. According to The Carbon Trust organization, this 20-percent cut in energy costs equates to a bottom-line benefit of a five-percent increase in sales for many businesses.
Toward that goal, start with a few simple practices like shutting down computers and turning off monitors, printers, fax machines, every night. Use energy-efficient light bulbs and turn off lights when not in use. Adjust thermostats a couple degrees cooler in the winter or warmer in the summer. Smart IoT devices like Hue and Nest automate your lights and thermostat, making it even easier and more fun for the techies.
Apply the TBL Method
Saving money the green way takes planning. The best plans for implementation are those, which are as comprehensive as possible. This includes a detailed plan of action and simple steps for your team to follow.
The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) measures people, planet, and profit, and is a concept that corporations can create more value and opportunity for their stakeholders by focusing economic, environmental, and social developments.
People refers to human capital which applies to your team as well as the community where your business is located. Planet is being responsibly-green and is not compromising the Earth’s resources for future generations. Profit is the impact your company has on the economic environment.
Some proven methods and best practices to achieve the TBL is:
- Build assets and resources and apply them to achieving goals and increasing future value.
- Create a work environment that is attractive, constructive and approachable, as well as unify the workers’ efforts.
- Determine the stakeholders’ perception of value, benchmark this information and use it to deliver sustainable value.
- Continuously improve products and services based on these determinations.
It’s a Win-Win
Integrating sustainability allows companies to become agile in a fast tech-changing world. It increases the appeal of your brand to potential employees and customers. You may already be building eco-awareness into your operations as many companies are as a result of the digital transformation. Eco-awareness is an opportunity to lower business costs, drive your brand, and do some good for the environment.
Ron is a blogger at Telzio, covering business, technology, and mobile trends. Previously a Director of Advertising and Public Relations at Marriott International, Ron has published several books including the award-winning graphic novel Facebucks.