Last week’s sustainable networking event definitely confirmed that there’s a growing interest in how to convert your business in a more sustainable company! That in itself is great news since nowadays it is the path every business should be on.
How a business manages social, environmental and corporate practices to generate profit, that is what sustainability is all about. It’s like a set of values that affect the product or service you offer and the way you operate on a daily basis, not just within your company but also with the community!
At the same time, I realise there are still several companies and entrepreneurs that are not on the road to sustainability yet. The bigger corporate firms by now are obliged by legislation to implement a sustainable strategy. But what about the smaller ones? I’m convinced they can also make a difference!
So I started thinking on how to get those professionals to change their minds. And what I have noticed during this last Open Coffee event, even more than the ones before, is that there are some very good reasons why businesses should care about sustainability!
So for those of you that might not be entirely convinced yet, here are 5 reasons why it is profitable to turn your business into a sustainable one!
1. Improved brand image and reputation
A couple of years ago, ESIC Business Marketing School published a report titled ‘The Ecological Consumer’s profile in Spain’ in which it divided the Spanish population into three groups: ecological, involved ecological, non-ecological. The first two groups represent no less than 70.4% of the entire Spanish population, the non-ecological group represents 29,6%. Let’s assume also that in the past few years those percentages have shifted since sustainability is becoming a mainstream issue nowadays and that we’re talking about more than 70% by now.
A business’ brand reputation is one of the most valuable assets it can have, however small it is. You may think it’s something that applies mainly to multinational companies. Well, acting like a big company will more than likely help you to be perceived as a larger business by clients, and even possible investors.
On a local level, you could think about donating to a local charity, or supporting your employees in volunteering (gather your team and go to one of the many cleanups throughout the islands; it will be a team-building event at the same time – double advantage!). If your sustainability strategy is aligned with your brand, then you tap into what consumers care about! Shortly put, sharing your sustainability story is becoming a marketing tool. By making everyone aware of your efforts, your business will definitely be remembered for positive reasons.
Important note – The opportunity to improve your brand image is immediately lost if your company does not do as it preaches! When consumers figure out a company has been involved in greenwashing, the damage to a brand’s reputation is far worse than actually making the effort to become an environmentally friendly business in the first place.
2. Meeting consumer demand and competitive advantage
According to a study done in 2018 by the OCU (Organization of Consumers and Users; comparable to the UK’s ‘Which?’), 73% of consumers in Spain avoid or prefer to buy certain products because of ethical or sustainable reasons! In the Canary Islands alone, that translates into about 1.5 million potential customers that are willing to buy from companies showing positive track records in personal, social and environmental values! Add to that the advantage that more and more people prefer buying local.
As people want to feel good about what they buy and where it comes from, for a sustainable business, it will be easier to meet this demand! And let’s not forget your future customers, the generation that is now growing up; their income increases and obviously so does their market share.
To keep up with this shift in the consumer’s mindset, companies will have to reinvent their existing products or services and even innovate to create new ones. It’s what will set higher selling prices, increase customer loyalty and market share; in short, it will set your business apart from the competition!
3. Attract and retain employees
In an era where it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract and retain staff, working for a bigger cause excites employees! This is especially true when you’re competing with bigger companies who might be paying larger salaries. Job candidates and employees nowadays look for a job that is meaningful and adds value to society!
Being a business where sustainability is embedded into the company culture, is an absolute selling point. Use it to your advantage in your employer branding, even when you’re about to hire your very first employee!
4. New revenue opportunities
Not only will you attract new customers (those who care about a company’s social responsibility), social and environmental issues in themselves also present new opportunities. If your business can develop solutions to the challenges we face, then you have a lot of new revenue sources ready for you, waiting to be tapped into!
5. Better resource efficiency
This is probably the most obvious way to implement sustainable practices as a company. At first, upon review, you could find that paper use can be significantly reduced, or electricity can be saved by simply switching off lights in certain unused spaces. Maybe people can share printers. There’re hundreds of small changes like these that, when actually implemented, will result in quite significant cost-savings.
Furthermore, resources such as fossil fuels and water are projected to become more scarce, and as they do, they will become more expensive. Developing more sustainable practices is a way to ensure the protection of those resources. At the same time, companies need to be prepared to find alternate resources for their products and services. Implementing water and energy efficiency initiatives, like the Seafuel project, together with reusing, reducing and recycling waste, will make sure you protect your bottom line. Winning companies will adopt all of the above!
As you can see, sustainability creates several opportunities for your business. You could obviously wait until the very last minute (as in, when the law obliges you to) but with the mindset of a leader, making your small business become sustainable first, you will surely reap the rewards. With a bit of planning, it can create true value for your company. Not sure where to start though? I would suggest you join us at the next Open Coffee, our sustainable networking event!