How small businesses can adopt sustainable business practices

Sustainability is not only about adopting green business practices, but is also a measure of the organization’s social and economic performance. Small businesses can especially adopt sustainable business strategies to improve profitability, customer loyalty, and commitment from their own employees.

The AICPA and CIMA, two of the most prestigious accounting bodies in the world, have released the report on the key elements to sustainable business practices in SMEs. Here are a few key points from that report.

Sustainability is not just about the environment

Very often, the word sustainability brings to mind green power, renewable energy, water conservation, and other environmental issues. But think beyond green business practices, and figure out creative ways in which your organization can act as a good corporate citizen for the benefit of all your stakeholders. Have open discussions with everyone, including suppliers and customers, and share information freely to come up with innovative solutions to improve efficiency and reduce waste.

Figure out what sustainability means to you

Write down a clear definition which communicates to everyone what sustainability means your company. This statement must be something that anyone can refer to, adopt the right goals for sustainability, and measure results accurately.

Communicate widely and involve top management

The measure of success of any strategy depends on who owns and writes it. The senior management must be actively involved in driving the policy, and must appoint the right sustainability champions who have the ability to communicate it throughout the organization, to every level.

Don’t attempt to do everything at once

Take baby steps. Becoming sustainable is not going to be an overnight transformation. Make small changes consistently and evolve to a more sustainable business over the course of a few years.

Don’t let sustainability be just a marketing campaign

Many companies make the mistake of jumping into the sustainability bandwagon only as a marketing exercise. It is easy enough to see through this “greenwashing”, and it can create an unfavorable impression about your company in the minds of customers, suppliers, and investors. Start talking about sustainability measures only if you are fully committed to the philosophy behind it and you’re prepared to do what it takes rather than just talk about it.

Track progress

You must measure, monitor, and review the goals of sustainability in order to justify it to the top management and to fully understand the benefit that it brings to the organization. It is important to develop clear and measurable metrics, and review them on a regular basis. This will help understand whether you’re making any progress, and in the goals are realistic and achievable.

Share best practices

Remember that you’re not alone in the sustainability drive. Actively engage with other organizations and industry initiatives to achieve sustainability goals together. Share best practices with other organizations that face challenges that are similar to your own.

Invest in sustainability more in terms of time rather than capital expenditure. Done the right way, sustainable business practices can truly push your business to another level.

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