Sustainable Business Practices
Sustainable business practices are earning a lot of buzz in the business world, and rightly so. Aside from the obvious environmental advantages (and those are substantial), there are three good reasons entrepreneurs are launching businesses that are good to the environment. Let’s take a look:
1. Sustainability Is Becoming the Norm
What used to be reserved for hippies or fanatics is now standard operating procedure for many cutting-edge corporations, and large and small businesses alike are being held responsible by conscientious consumers for where and how their products are made. According to a 2014 Nielsen study, 55 percent of global consumers say they would pay more for goods and services from companies committed to social responsibility.
And entrepreneurs across the country are on board. Seventy-two percent of small business owners said incentives for clean energy are a priority, according to the American Sustainable Business Council. The same report found that more than 70 percent of small business owners support increasing energy efficiency by 50 percent over the next 10 years, and 13 percent of CEOs are placing sustainability in their top three priorities, up from just 3 percent four years ago.
A recent study from the Environmental Protection Agency and reported by Apple Rubber found that well over half of 3,000 company officials surveyed believe that sustainability is critically important to being competitive in today’s marketplace. The numbers are clear and rising. Get sustainable or get left behind.
2. Don’t Waste Time and Money Down the Road
Let’s face it; many businesses don’t focus on sustainability out of the kindness of their hearts, they do it to use fewer resources and spend less money. Sustainability makes very good financial sense. It’s still one of the top three reasons entrepreneurs address sustainability within their corporate culture, according to this McKinsey & Company report.
Spend time now, in the beginning stages of your business, looking at the ways you can cut your environmental impact with things like packaging, production facilities and product design. You’ll save the headache and cost of switching to more sustainable practices down in the future, leaving you to attack the smaller sustainability fixes as they arise.
3. The New Social Science of Consumer Spending
New research shows that environmental consciousness is not only a way to save money and attract like-minded customers – it’s crucial to connecting with your customers on the deepest level possible.
It’s a movement that has spurned the term social entrepreneurship. Ph.D. Thomas S. Lyon defines this on TriplePundit.com as, “The application of the mindset, processes, tools, and techniques of business entrepreneurship to the pursuit of a social and/or environmental mission.” This definition is dry and boring, but then Lyons hits you with the heart of the concept: Social entrepreneurs play the role of change agents in the social sector. The socially conscious entrepreneur is actually more than just a clever marketing ploy; it’s a direct line to consumers’ heart strings, pocketbooks, and above all else, long-term, passionate brand loyalty.
According to the Psychology Today article, “How Emotions Influence What We Buy”, we make most of our purchasing decisions based on emotion, not logic. In fact, several studies from 2013 show that brand loyalty is based far more on the richness of emotional content than any other attribute of the product; not durability, versatility or even availability. Emotional connections are the most influential factor in long-term devotion to a particular brand as well.
A social entrepreneur focuses on not just supplying their customer with a product. They bring to the table a good feeling, a healthier world, maybe even a better life – or at least, the hope for one.
If you are looking to sell your business, if you have already implemented these practices, your chances of gaining a good buyer will be much higher.