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Green Business is Good Business


By Marcus Shaw, ActionCOACH Christchurch - Let’s be honest, the average business owner is more focused on profit, than they are on sustainability. But are sustainability and profitability mutually exclusive?

I don’t think so!

Controlling operational costs is obviously good for business because it benefits bottom line earnings, providing a degree of protection against seasonal fluctuations and some flexibility or breathing space to drop prices in order to remain competitive, or meet unexpected expenses that may arise.

Companies that invest in high efficiency equipment and eco-friendly processes enjoy a number of benefits that go beyond lower energy bills. Energy efficient equipment provides greater reliability and productivity, while ensuring lower maintenance costs and less waste.

A few years back, in a museum just outside Opunake, I came across a popular saying from when the region was first settled. The saying was, “A blade of grass is worth two trees”. In other words, the value of pasture was so immense that cutting down a few trees wasn’t seen as a big deal.
These days, things are a little bit different.

Aside from cost reductions, companies differentiate themselves by promoting their green credentials to create unique selling points that can ultimately lead to business growth. Various pieces of research show that the majority of consumers think it’s important to buy from environmentally responsible companies. Being recognised as a green organisation can boost sales, increase interest in an organisation, improve brand awareness and build brand loyalty. Operating a resource efficient business will also help to ensure that the company complies with increasing regulatory pressures.

News bulletins, social media, and even Netflix are now dominated by messages urging us to consider the effect that our lifestyles are having on the environment. Closer to home, a great deal of political pressure is also being placed on previously untouchable organisations over their impact on greenhouse gas emissions and water quality.

Alongside the changing political agenda, a powerful new generation of consumers has emerged – the millennials. Not only are millennials more aware of the environmental qualifications of companies but they’re also prepared to pay a premium for brands with green credentials.

Globally, companies such as Tesla have become household names out of this increased appetite for environmentally friendly products and services. Here in New Zealand, the modern shopping experience has also changed drastically. From free range chicken, to organic eggs, and even plant based disposable plates, supermarkets now have environmentally friendly products on almost every aisle.

A number of businesses have capitalised on emerging market segments. Whittakers have steadily grown into one of New Zealand’s most preferred brands, with their palm oil free, Fairtrade chocolate. Plant based home product company, Eco Store, has prompted big brands like Persil to offer green alternatives.

Several of my clients also utilise the sustainable message to great effect. An artisan baker sources spray free wheat from a local grower and sells their product at a premium far above industry average, whilst another commercial mechanical installer centres its business on capturing wasted energy to improve efficiency of production plants.
The power of “green” brands is clear. However, the question is, what can you do to harness some of that and leave the planet in a better place in the process?

Here are three ideas to get you started:
Go paperless:
There is now an app for almost anything imaginable and very few tasks need to be done exclusively on physical paper. Not only will you spend less on printing, but you’ll also improve the efficiency of your business systems.

Sell the story:
I often hear of business making a concerted effort to ‘go green’ and yet the market place knows nothing of it. Tell your prospects and your customers about your greening efforts, whether it is the installation of LED lights in your offices, a heat pump water heating system or your commitment to recycling and waste reduction. It may be the key differentiator between you and a competitor.

Involve your team
A great team has a shared vision. Meet with your team to get their ideas on how to reduce your environmental impact and to set a collective goal.

Marcus Shaw is a Christchurch based business coach, who combines his unique experience and the ActionCOACH system, to take business owners and their companies from chaos to control. Find out more at: www.marcusshaw.actioncoach.com

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