Starting a new business can be an exciting proposition. You have the opportunity to create a company predicated upon your ideas and driven by your values. One of the most popular options among social enterprises is a green business. These are companies with an eco-friendly concept at their core which is intended to help consumers to have a positive impact on their communities and the planet.
However, it’s important to understand it is not enough simply to have a green concept in mind. Though the product or service you provide may be intended for environmentally conscious results, if the entirety of your company doesn’t reflect and pursue green ideals, there is a limit to the sustainable effect you can have on the world around you.
So, how can you best go about making your green idea a truly green business? We’re going to examine a few key areas for your focus.
Assess Potential Impact
The mistake many entrepreneurs make when starting a business is treating their green activities as mitigating measures rather than an integrated aspect of their company. Even when your business idea is green-focused, just having some common tacked-on “sustainable” standards isn’t enough. Not only does it limit the green efficacy of your company, but it can also seem to increasingly savvy consumers that you are not entirely committed to environmental protocols. As such, you should begin with an assessment of potentially negative impact.
Review every aspect of your intended business model to establish what practices could be problematic from an environmental standpoint. If you’re producing an item intended to help consumers be more green in their own lives, you need to make sure the materials, processes, and logistics that go into providing it are also green. Consider the behavior of your employees — including whether having them commute to the workplace every day results in unnecessary emissions.
Remember, any assessment of your business model will also likely be colored by your own biases. This isn’t a failure on your part, it’s just it’s not unusual for business owners to be so close to their idea that they can’t see certain potential problems. As such, it may be worth working with other green organizations and environmental business consultants to gain a more nuanced and thorough understanding of what you need to do to maintain high standards.
Consider Your Tools
The contemporary world is on the brink of change. Exciting technologies are being developed, while at the same time an urgent need to prevent the catastrophic effects of climate change. It should be no surprise, then, that experts have posited the future of business is likely to be heavily dependent on embracing technology and a commitment to making a positive difference in the world.
Companies will need to establish technology that can help them thrive, while also serving the responsibility — and consumer demand — for social change. When you’re taking your green idea to become a business, this can seem like an overwhelming prospect. But a key to success here and future-proofing your business is recognizing that technology and environmental considerations are not mutually exclusive elements.
The choice of technological tools you use can be a route to eco-friendly practices. Certainly, you can examine the practicality of using exclusively green energy, either through an external provider or fitting solar panels to your business property. However, this can extend to your day-to-day equipment, too. Energy-efficient light bulbs and smart thermostats are becoming commonplace to reduce consumption. The government-backed Energy Star program can also be useful in identifying computers, data storage items, even break room appliances that conform to energy-efficient standards.
Beyond your equipment’s rate of consumption, it’s also worth considering what technology you can utilize to make your working practices more efficient. Depending on your business model and industry, there are often artificial intelligence (AI) driven software tools that can minimize the use of resources. For instance, if your green business is logistics focused, alongside your use of electric vehicles you can adopt route management software. This uses machine learning to monitor road conditions, vehicle maintenance, and maps among other data points to plot routes that use less fuel and expend fewer emissions.
An important thing to remember about taking your green idea to a fully-fledged business is you’re not always going to get it right. Your idea could well represent an important leap forward in how the public lives sustainably. But technology is constantly developing, standards are changing, and even what we know now about our impact on the planet can alter. Not to mention that even with the best will in the world you’re not going to know everything. As such, you should be willing to work with outsiders who will hold you accountable for green standards.
A good start here is gaining and maintaining green certification. Environmental regulations and initiatives have an important role to play in reducing the negative impact industries have on our planet. Your business can only hold green certifications (there are several, run by government and industry agencies) by achieving high standards of eco-friendly activity as specified for each program. However, you shouldn’t just treat this as a relationship in which an external agency holds you accountable for standards. Rather, treat their guidelines as a minimum and aim to surpass these rather than limit yourself to them.
Nurturing a green idea into a green business is a challenging prospect. To succeed, you should be taking a holistic approach. Even before you open your company, assess your business model for areas you can be more positively impactful on the environment. Carefully consider how technological tools can boost your efforts. Alongside a commitment to being held accountable for your standards, these can set you on a journey that sees your business making a positive difference in the world.