Geri Stengel

 
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What Every Start-Up Should Know About Social Responsibility

Even Walmart is going green … which tells you that it isn’t just about being altruistic; it’s good business.

From the day you put finger to keyboard to type up your business plan, think green. It will save you trouble in the long run and money from the get-go.  That’s good business, whether you’re big or small, experienced or a start-up.

green business, long-term costs, socially responsible, start-up businesIf you look around, you’ll see that many businesses are greening up, surprising ones. Who’d have thought that  National Geographic would still be, um, un-green. Yet it was because it didn’t look at its whole operation for green possibilities. In its case, the green-up was modification of food service to its 1,000 or so employees. Fair trade, locally grown, and organic food along with compostable and/or recycled paper products.

At the end of the year, food costs were lower.

Start-ups and entrepreneurs can save that money by greening their business plan from the start.

  • Look for suppliers that are sustainable. Check out their supply lines. You may be able to use this clean alliance to get business.
  • Check out energy options.
  • Buy energy-saving equipment, from light bulbs to computers to the production line.
  • Look at every phase of your business, every department, for recycling, reusing, and less impact processes from using only double-sided printing to turning off computers at night.
  • Think about the cloud instead of onsite, electricity-sucking equipment.
  • Build fair pay and save working conditions into your plan. Pay may start low but plan a living wage as the business grows.
  • Set up procedures for employee involvement and feedback. Be prepared to listen. You’ll hear some things that can really help your business.
  • Include outreach to the community in your plan. How can you give back even before you have cash to donate?
  • Develop low-impact packaging, using the least amount of material to contain your product safely.
  • Furnish your store with recycled, low-impact decor.
  • Check out all the rebates and tax credits you might qualify for.
  • Most important: Set clear ethical standards that define the way you do business, treat employees, and relate to customers. Make sure all employees know that you really mean it.
  • Look around for like-minded business owners. You may find business partnerships, customers, and people who can help you solve problems as they arise.

Greening your business plan actually is a way to trim long-term costs, improve employee satisfaction, and give you a marketing edge with both retail and B2B customers. Now that’s getting off to a good start!

What have you done to green your business plan? How has it helped your business? What obstacles have you encountered on the way to a greener business?