If businesses want to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they may consider developing and introducing a sustainability strategy to their business. A plan for sustainable practices in your business can also improve the reputation of your brand while increasing efficiency in your business.
What is a small business sustainability plan?
A business sustainability plan is a document created by a company to help it achieve its operational goals while considering financial, environmental, and social sustainability issues. It is also a business strategy that aims to achieve a company’s goals sustainably.
Protecting our natural environment is a global challenge and all organisations that use public resources and reserves have an obligation to take care of it. Businesses that adopt environmentally-safe practices can also promote profits, contrary to popular belief. Many companies around the world have found ways to increase their revenues while prioritising sustainable business practices.
The benefits of developing a sustainability plan
Regardless of the size of your business and the industry you serve, there are many benefits that can come with introducing a sustainability plan to your business. These include cultivating respect amongst consumers and peers and maintaining a positive public reputation, as well as promoting environmental stewardship.
Businesses can reap many financial and moral benefits by developing a sustainability plan. These could include:
- Reduced energy consumption: Your business can reduce its energy consumption and save money – by installing energy-efficient appliances and LED light bulbs. To reduce carbon emissions, businesses can also ask employees to turn off the lights and carpool at work.
- Promoting public health: Sustainability plans for businesses can make a difference in creating a healthier environment that directly affects public health. People’s health can be improved if changes that reduce emissions and improve air quality are adopted in the business community. This can lead to higher standards of public health and general wellbeing.
- Industry leadership: Businesses with established sustainability plans can encourage changes in their community and industry by leading by example on sustainability. Encouraging other organisations to embrace environmentally-friendly policies can help create a positive future for all of us.
- Attract new customers: Businesses that create sustainability plans are more likely to attract environmentally conscious customers. This can be a great way to improve your brand’s reputation. It is therefore important to inform consumers about your sustainable policies in order to take advantage of this competitive advantage.
Recommended reading: How to Make a Business More Sustainable
5 Steps to write sustainability plan
When discussing green vs sustainability, it’s important to note that ‘going green’ means using environmentally friendly products and services, while ‘sustainability’ means using products or services in a way that does not cause undue damage to future generations’ resources. Here are five simple steps that can help you create an effective business sustainability plan for your small business.
Step 1. Increase your sustainability knowledge and awareness
Developing an acute understanding of sustainability is the first step in developing a solid plan for sustainability in your business. You can find plenty of sustainability information and research online from reputable organisations and government bodies.
Business sustainability plans are more than just making green decisions. They also consider the long-term effects of your business decisions and processes. This may require a change in perspective to consider the economy, households, and business practices in a different light.
Step 2. Assessing your current business practices
Next, you should identify areas in your business where improvements can be made, which may involve reading up on local laws and industry regulations. Once you have a firm understanding of the existing standards, you can start aligning your business practices and processes in line with sustainability best practice. Importantly, this process can reveal the most urgent sustainability issues in your business that you can address first.
It’s also worth noting here that your sustainability plan for your business should comply with all relevant laws. Your profits can be protected by looking at cost-effective ways to bring your practices in line with current laws.
As part of this process it is also possible to learn more about larger environmental issues such as climate change, the energy crisis, and ecosystem decline, as well as the ways in which your existing practices contribute to these problems.
Step 3. Identify the opportunities
To create a sustainable business plan you will need creativity and innovation to identify new ways to reduce your waste and your energy consumption.
Examples of such innovation could include incorporating new technologies or finding more cost-effective ways of doing business. Employee input can also help you to find innovative solutions that can improve the sustainability of your business.
Self-reflection is also a key component in finding sustainable opportunities. Companies might also consider the sustainability credentials of their clients and suppliers.
Step 4. Create your objectives
It is impossible for any one business to address all global sustainability issues simultaneously; rather, it’s about starting small and changing what you can change right now. Developing a solid sustainability plan takes focus and perseverance. Choose one or two areas in which your business can have a positive impact.
Depending on the size of your business, a separate sustainability vision for each department may be required depending on the nature and structure of your company. In your sustainability plan, be specific about the goals for the business.
Also, it is important to provide details to your team, and any other relevant stakeholders, such as investors, about the sustainability plan that your company will adopt. This will help employees and stakeholders understand their individual responsibilities for achieving the organisation’s sustainability goals.
Step 5. Make the changes
Implementing the changes is the final step in creating your business sustainability plan. This involves communicating the plan to all employees and other stakeholders.
As the business owner, you may need to revise your company policies in order to meet your new environmental goals. To measure and track the success of your sustainability initiatives, you may consider establishing and tracking metrics and key performance indicators.
It is also important that your business has the data on hand and readily accessible to back up its claims of being an environmentally conscious corporate citizen. This will help when it comes to publicising the success of your business sustainability plans – which may lead to media opportunities for your business.
Here are some areas in your business where you can look to make meaningful sustainability changes.
There are many ways you can reduce your energy consumption. You can replace traditional lighting with more energy-efficient LED lights or install lighting timers and sensors. Solar panels and biomass boilers are two other clean energy options you can use to generate your own electricity.
If possible, go paperless. Instead of throwing away unwanted or unneeded stationery like folders, paper, staplers, and pens, you can reuse them or donate them to a local charity or school. This applies to all unwanted office furniture and IT equipment too. You can also look into where you can repair, upcycle, or purchase pre-loved items in an antique or charity shop.
Products and packaging
Are you using sustainable materials that are safe and healthy for the environment? Examine the impact of your manufacturing on the environment to find ways to improve it. You can, for instance, pledge to use recycled materials to package or create your products.
Ensure that all of your suppliers agree to your sustainability commitments and take action. You can reduce your carbon emissions by sourcing products locally and from the nearest source.
Which vehicles are you using for distribution and operations? You might consider replacing petrol or diesel cars with hybrid or electric vehicles. Encourage your employees to walk or cycle for short distances, while car sharing may also be an option if your staff are happy to travel together. Remote or hybrid working arrangements can also be efficient too, as it eliminates the daily commute.
Installing motion sensor taps throughout your business premises can be a smart way to conserve water? Ensure that you and your staff only turn the tap on when it is necessary, and put up posters around the workplace to remind your guests and staff. Check for water leaks and fix them as soon as possible. If renting, you may ask the owner of your business premises if rainwater can be collected and stored for use on site.
Small business sustainability FAQs
What is small business sustainability?
Sustainable businesses are those that willingly choose to take sensible and appropriate steps to conserve natural resources and work with minimal impact on the environment, the community, and society at large.
Why are small businesses more sustainable?
Although small businesses may not be more sustainable by default, customer demand and reputational issues are the main reasons why they are determined to take concrete steps toward a more sustainable future. As such, sustainability initiatives can also make a small business a preferred destination for environmentally conscious customers.
Why does a business need a sustainability plan?
A sustainability plan can be essential for helping small businesses achieve their sustainability goals. A carefully considered sustainability plan will include goals and a realistic timeframe. It also provides a method to monitor and measure progress in addressing the selected environmental, governance, and social impacts.
How BizCover helps small businesses grow
While you are busy implementing your sustainability plan, let BizCover help you with your business insurance needs. At BizCover we make buying your business insurance faster and easier than ever before – and without the drama you may have endured in the past when buying your business insurance.
We provide a quick and easy online platform for small business owners throughout Australia to compare competitive business insurance quotes and purchase their business insurance in less than 10 minutes – and without any annoying paperwork.
Common types of business insurance that BizCover can help you with include:
Professional Indemnity insurance: Protects your business from losses arising out of acts, errors and omissions from a wide variety of services.
Business Insurance: An insurance package designed to provide cover for your business contents, stock, tools and commercial premises when an insured event occurs.
Public Liability insurance: Business insurance that protects you from claims and supports your profitability in the event of a cyber breach or attack.
Visit our dedicated online destination for small business insurance to compare competitive business insurance quotes for your small business, get covered in only 10 minutes, and get back to building your business. If you prefer to speak with us, you can reach our friendly team on 1300 920 867.
This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording.
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ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769