Over 80 percent of people say it is important that companies work for improving the environment, according to a 2019 global survey by Nielsen. Brands are moving beyond the usual standards of sustainability, such as recyclable packaging or paper straws, and customers are more aware than ever in wanting to bring their money to companies that share their values.
Increasingly, sustainability is listed as a core value in many small businesses, but it might still be difficult to know what could be done to turn it into a part of the brand DNA.
Here are are our top three best practices for small business sustainability:
Talk the talk, walk the walk
As a first step, identify what sustainability means to your business.
Is your company passionate about global warming, air pollution, or recycling, repurposing and waste disposal? Focus on the areas where you can have a valid impact.
Be specific about what sustainability means to your company. Define a few words that clarify what it is that you can and want to do. Today, sustainability has become such a buzzword that it can be difficult to know what it means in each case. Plus, increasing your small business sustainability can be an incremental change that you make.
Making big goals can find you coming up short when it comes to ensuring that you're able to make good on promises and intentions that you have. Look to where you can make small wins now, that lead to lasting change long term.
Take a look at your production process and make sure that each stage carries out these sustainability goals and values. As customers are more aware than ever, it is important to not just talk the talk but also walk the walk and show that your company takes its values seriously and takes actual steps towards them.
Engage your employees
Engage your employees in sustainable thinking. In many small businesses, sustainability efforts are mostly driven by the owner or a specific administrator, and even though that is better than nothing, there is a huge opportunity in encouraging employees to come up with new ideas. This kind of top-to-bottom approach makes sure that everyone is working towards the same goals.
If you have done your homework and defined what sustainability means to your business specifically, it will help your employees to contribute to your overall vision and also for them to find new solutions that help you improve the sustainability of your business.
Create activities and challenges that encourage your employees to get excited about your new initiatives. Change can be difficult when it comes to business, so if you are implementing new processes and/or products, you need to get buy-in from your employees.
Improve your customer experience
Customer behavior is changing rapidly and especially millennials and younger generations are looking for brands that reflect their values. Often this means a smaller, local brands with a sustainable story. Therefore, sustainability and customer experience go increasingly hand in hand. Improving customer experiences with novel, sustainable solutions helps you to differentiate from competition, achieve financial goals and raise your brand’s value.
Being sustainable should mean not only switching to LED-lightbulbs or paper straws but also continuing to improve the experience of your customers, your most valuable asset.
Sustainability and customer experience complement each other in building your brand’s trust, loyalty and overall image.