I’m a small time business owner that opened my company four to five years ago. I’ve invested heavily into my business, but I’m not seeing much profit. If any, I’m losing money. Recently, I’ve read about sustainable practices that will help businesses save money, but I don’t know if these will work for a small business like mine or if they are even effective.
Is there a way for me to make money, while saving the environment?
Dear Businessman Bob,
If there’s one thing I learned in the 14 years my company has been around, it’s that sustainability is profitability.
Profit matters to businesses because it’s what keeps them alive, but finding ways to help reduce your company’s carbon footprint is essential in the long run. Remember, the way for a business to survive is to think long-term. Sustainability is a long-term perspective. It’s not just about thinking what will earn you the most now; it’s about thinking what will save you the most in 5 to 10 years.
Sustainability is an investment - it’s an investment of your time and your resources.
A Harvard Business Review article I read stated there are three steps to making your company’s sustainability profitable. Here’s my take on some of the critical points the article gave.
Do your research.
Whenever you need to change the way you do things, you have to have some amount of research to back it up. Research doesn’t mean focusing entirely on statistical data; it can also mean asking around, asking people, and making your own observations.
Be willing to innovate and change.
Sustainable practices are not conventional, and sometimes they require a leap of faith into the unknown. You have to be willing to change the way you think and do things, in order to discover something great. Remember, progress does not happen without change.
Big changes can come from small things, so stop telling yourself that only companies who have the manpower and funding have the ability to inject sustainable practices into their work routine. Switching to sustainable practices may prove costly for some companies, which is sometimes necessary, but it doesn’t mean that all sustainable practices will cost you an arm and a leg. You’ll discover that even small changes here and there can make a big difference overall.
Take Manila Water for example. Manila Water discovered that if they found and repaired leaks in their pipes, and implemented preventive measures to keep people from illegally tapping into the water line, they would recover and save water amounting to about US$750million. Rather than doing a massive overhaul like changing pipes that didn’t need to be changed, or building a new dam that would have been able to increase the supply of water, Manila Water chose a more subtle and practical method---repair what’s broken and find ways to keep it secure.
Share what you know.
If you’ve found that your methodology works for you, don’t be selfish and keep it all to yourself, share it with other people like your clients, your partners, or your suppliers. If it works effectively for them, they’ll most likely be thankful and buy more from you, or lower the cost at which they sell to you. And even if they don’t directly help your business, the world is small, someone who will be benefiting from them might inadvertently be benefiting you in other ways.
Going back to your question Bob, I would like to answer you with a whole-hearted “YES.” You can make money while saving the environment. It may take time, effort, and some money on your part, but if done properly it will prove beneficial to your company, and will help you raise profits.
On a last note, as the world continues to develop and resources become increasingly scarce, I think sustainability becoming profitable will become a more discussed issue. Will we wait until we run out of resources before we do something to reduce our carbon footprint?
As they say, the best time to start something was yesterday, the next best is today.
All the best,
About the columnist
Amor Maclang leads GeiserMaclang, an internationally awarded full-service marketing communications company that steers leading names in a diverse field of industries. For more information and to post her a message, visit Geiser Maclang Network’s online directory listing here.