Helping the environment has been on the agenda for the majority of businesses for the last decade. Customers have and still are worried about the planet and their shopping preferences reflect that fact. It’s not beneath them to opt for a rival that makes them feel as if they are saving the environment and providing a quality product at the same time. Companies have had to react and they are doing so en mass now that the “fad” doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast.
Evolving to meet customer demands is a priority, but it isn’t one-hundred percent foolproof. Forgive the pun, yet startups make green errors on a daily basis and it impacts the firm. Business owners want to avoid this at all costs, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Here, then, are the mistakes and the solutions that should help you appease the planet and your customer base.
The initial transition period can be expensive even if the methods save the company money in the long-term. Take solar panels as a prime example. Installation costs alone are in the thousands of dollars and aren’t set to decrease anytime soon. Sadly, SMBs tend not to have a couple of thousand bucks lying around the office. And, it isn’t only the big projects because the smaller ones rack up the expenses too. Energy-saving light bulbs may last longer yet they aren’t as affordable as less efficient models. Businesses have to think about the future to stomach the costs in the first place. But, to lower them in the short-term, wait until the time is right. Experts predict local authorities will start providing grants for renewable energy, for instance. If you can hang around, there is no reason to spend money the startup doesn’t have.
Due to investments, prices may have to increase to cover the firm’s losses. It doesn’t matter how well you explain the necessity; the customers won’t accept the logic. Instead, they will think about how it impacts their bottom line. Usually, the situation ends up with consumers leaving their loyalty at the door as they look for a cheaper alternative. Once the business commits, it can’t back out or else it faces a PR backlash. Savvy bosses scour the market for budget yet quality materials which they know will keep prices low. Asia is a modern eBay of sorts as overheads are lower than in the West. Do be careful of shipping costs as they can be extortionate anywhere in the world. To buy in bulk is a smart way to cut the price by a significant amount as long as the materials don’t go to waste.
Consumers aren’t stupid and they will work out when a company is being disingenuous. Not to say that you are lying, but plenty of startups like to play the percentages. For instance, SMBs will gladly promote their efforts to help save the planet but will leave out the fine details. As soon as a customer sees something they class as a contradiction, they will jump on it and spread the word. And, word of mouth advertising can be destructive. There are two accessible and affordable solutions to this problem. The first is to go into partnership with an eco-conscious business. An organization such as GreenRush Packaging has services that are 100% green along the supply chain. Plus, some are a novelty and add will grab the attention of the customers. The second fix is to speak to a law expert. Because it’s a consultation, the fees shouldn’t be as exorbitant as usual.
One way to combat bad press is to get accredited by local and national authorities. That way, everything you publish will have a qualified source to back up the company’s claims. More and more, small businesses are finding these certificates harder to obtain, and the reasons are political. Departments with authority to grant SMBs a pass are full of people who have friends in ‘high’ places. Should one of them ask for a favor, then there’s a chance the application may get rejected. Anyone who doesn’t believe this happens should think about market share and protecting interests. When the company does attempt to apply, record everything and ask for documentation. Not to be a snitch, but filing a complaint may be the only option to what Andrew Georgiadis calls “entrenched bias.”
A simple way to go green is to stop using dead trees in the office. Although businesses are reliant on paper, there are plenty of alternatives. Nowadays, every employee has a smartphone with instant messaging apps and an email account. Rather than write it down on a piece of paper, colleagues can message back and forth to save the planet. In the beginning, the conversations can get lost in translation and work may suffer as a result. Bosses, though, can provide training for WhatsApp and Hangouts to prevent future complications. By far the biggest issue is the one regarding security. Should a server get hacked, there is no paper chase to act a physical factory reset. Therefore, startups must backup data onto a USB stick and store it outside of the office. Do this every three to six months and it should limit a hacker’s potential threat.
At the moment, green startups find that they are a disadvantage to traditional businesses. Why? It’s because the competition can set looser standards according to Sapling. In the future, legislation may dictate that every company has to start on the same level. However, until that point, regular firms can “do their bit” without taking on any of the same responsibilities. Sure, eco-friendly businesses will benefit down the line, but they have to survive that long and that isn’t guaranteed. Usually, green startups that succeed either give themselves breathing space to bend the rules or find a niche. The latter is a quality option as the firm should have a small monopoly.
Are you an environmentally-conscious SMB? Do you make any of the errors above?