I really value the opinions and articles that appear in the New York Times. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised to read an entire section dedicated to small businesses and sustainability. This morning’s trip to jamba juice had me revved up, but then the NY feature page http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/small-business/sustainability/index.html added the protein boost.
What do small businesses and sustainability have in common you ask? A whole lot more than you can figure out in one sitting in front of your computer. If you are small business owner then you need to pay heed. If nothing to understand that sustainability means money in the pocket. Yes money that most critical of things for a small business, that which guides their decisions on a monthly or weekly if not a daily basis. It amazes me no end that while we have upped the ante on social good, doing the right thing by our future generations, and by our planet, we have actually forgotten or sold short that a lot of sustainability initiatives actually end up saving money for the small business owner.
As the New York times article notes, Mr. Joe Santana of Mi Rancho a family owned tortilla producer in San Leandro gets it. After arming themselves with knowledge on measures they could undertake, this family owned business is on track to save $100,000 a year by implementing numerous energy-efficiency and waste reduction measures. And, if a direct reduction in operational expenditures is not enough, think about branding and its effect on your top-line, think about employee retention and morale, and of course customer loyalty – the last one is something that makes or breaks a small business. And if that is not enough, if you are small business that is an integral part of a large business’ value chain, you better bet your last dime that you will need to be sustainable sooner rather than later. This is not meant to scare you! Rather its a call for action one way or the other. Organic or externally motivated. Its now well known that large organizations such as Procter & Gamble, Kaiser Permanente and that ubiquitous big box retailer Wal-Mart all have very specific programs aimed at making their supply chain sustainable. From cradle to grave for products and services these organizations now look to their suppliers to be sustainable in their procurement, manufacturing practices or services, and recycling of finished, used goods. Wal-Mart even has a name for it ‘Sustainability Index’ Go google it!
Smart sustainability can be a win-win for businesses, especially small businesses. No one is asking you to boil the ocean and radically alter your business. Even small steps can show a willingness to partner for the greater good and reap huge advantages. Take the case of hotels. I have been to many hotels while on the road, vacationing, attending conferences. I am struck by how some hotels cleverly leverage the financial aspects of sustainability, but I am more impressed as to how they leverage my social ROI. From requesting guests for permission when it comes to changing towels, and bedding, to keeping the lights dimmed and thermostats that consistently keep the rooms a few degrees above what hotels in the past used to do. Its this ability to transfer ownership of my social conscience to their financial and sustainable initiatives that makes me a willing partner in their efforts to save money while going green! I return back to these hotels on subsequent trips – a happy customer.
So, as you pick up your evening latte, or your favorite drink to relax to and reflect upon the days events, I strongly suggest you click through to the online article at the new york times. It will make for some good reading. Adios for now and more to follow on small businesses and sustainability efforts!