For years now, “going green” has been a trendy buzzword for businesses of all sizes. Now that climate change is making a real impact on the way we live, however, it’s become more pressing than ever for everyone—individuals and businesses alike—to take decisive action to limit our impact on the environment.
In an effort to cut costs, many businesses don’t build particularly sustainable business models. But it’s becoming more economically viable for even small and medium-sized businesses to go green—and doing so helps them realize larger profits in the form of more effective marketing strategies and increased brand loyalty.
It’s rare to find a “win-win” in business, but it’s true: Going green can not only help the environment, but improve the bottom line.
Need proof? Here are seven reasons why businesses should go green as soon as possible:
Digital workflows are more organized and efficient
Printing out and keeping paper documents—which can include contracts, invoices, project outlines, and much more—is a surefire way to keep people in your organization out of the loop, or to lose important information at the worst time.
The increased use of cloud-computing for important business tasks is not only greener, but it’s more efficient: You can now write up a document, sent it to clients, complete a project, generate an invoice, and send it on to accounting without generating a single piece of paper. Find a few choice business apps you’re willing to invest in, and create a more streamlined and organized workflow without relying on wasteful products.
You can reduce spending on supplies and utilities
Going green around the office starts with reducing the use (and thus spending on) traditional office materials such as paper, Post-Its, printer cartridges, and other wasteful products. You may not realize just how much paper an office goes through: The average office worker generates about two pounds worth of mixed paper products every day.
You can also reduce costs by investing in more energy-efficient equipment, such as compact fluorescent (CFL) lighting. According to Energy Star, their certified light bulbs last much longer, use markedly less energy, and produce less heat. These costs can add up over the course of months or years in your office space—as much as a 10-30% reduction in total energy expenses without sacrificing service or style.
You’ll meet rising consumer expectations
In many ways, it’s no longer optional for businesses to work unsustainably. Consumers increasingly expect the businesses they buy from to be transparent, sustainable, and socially responsible: A study from Cone Communications found that 91% of global consumers expect companies to operate responsibly, and 84% said they actively seek out responsible products whenever possible.
If consumers find that you’re not doing your part to help the environment, they’ll find a competitor who does. That shouldn’t be a risk you’re willing to take.
You’ll build brand loyalty
Going green isn’t just about attracting new customers, but strengthening your relationships with existing buyers.
According to a study on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the U.K., “Evidence shows that CSR can be more effective than advertising… Perhaps of even greater worth is its potential to enhance customer loyalty.” In a sense, customers will reward your business for being socially responsible by coming back again and again.
That study goes on to make the case that businesses should both increase their efforts to be socially responsible and to inform customers of those efforts. Improving your business’s image in this regard can a more efficient and effective way of increasing brand awareness for customers than simply spending a ton on marketing and advertising.
Talent looks for eco-conscious businesses
There are a variety of ways that small businesses can compete with larger organizations in the war for young talent, and touting a green business model and dedication towards addressing environmental and social causes is one of them. According to Deloitte, issues of environmentalism really matter to millennials and they believe businesses have a role to play in protecting the earth.
Small businesses can utilize this concern for the environment by promoting their green business practices and general commitment to fighting climate change. In the effort to build a small business brand identity that resonates with young workers, this is an effective weapon.
Green business tax credits and deductions become available
The upfront cost of converting to a greener business model is, in many states and cities, offset by tax credits and deductions that lower your tax burden and make your investment more financially palatable.
You can get tax credits for installing and using eligible technologies like solar, small wind turbines, geothermal systems, microturbines, and combined heat and power.
To understand just how much you’ll save on your taxes by going green, talk to your accountant or tax preparer, who will help you fill out Form 3468.
You’ll develop a well of green-related blog content
Businesses with blogs know the struggle of coming up with timely, informative, helpful blog content that can also steer readers towards their website.
Your efforts to go green—the investments you make, the tax credits you apply for, the impact you look to have on your consumer base—can be mined for extensive blog content that positions you as both a thought leader in the space and a trailblazer for other businesses in your niche. More well-written blog content means a better and more complete SEO strategy, which in turn creates more potential leads and customers.
Businesses constantly seek market differentiators—ways to help them stand out from their competition, and make a lasting impression on customers. Going green is hardly the maverick move of years past, but it’s still important enough that consumers will recognize your efforts and reward you appropriately.
Going green, when done correctly, can lower your costs, help you compete with big business, and make a positive impact on the world. What’s not to love about that tactic?
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