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Small business sustainability plans: Are they worth the hype?

by Mike Strawn
 
“Going green” typically evokes a couple of different skeptical reactions in the business world. Some people see it as the latest marketing gimmick, with no real potential to provide a long-term return. Some embrace the idea but consider the cost of change (both financial and cultural) too high.

Nobody can argue that some businesses use sustainability as a short term marketing ploy. Furthermore, if embraced without strategy and planning, sustainable practices can fail, financially and culturally. However, many of these skeptics are only seeing a tiny cross-section of the sustainability movement. In practice, modern sustainability offers value to both the community and the company implementing — in terms of cultural benefits and reduced costs.

Discover why business sustainability is more than mere hype

Consider two hypothetical small medical supply businesses. They both routinely work with insurance filings, customer records, and supply management chains. One, Company A, still relies on paper management and ground mail for accounts receivables, insurance matters, and more. In addition to records management labor, Company A also pays a specialized firm to shred sensitive documents, rents secure storage facility for documentation and has a turnaround time of a week to ten days for some claims.

​Small businesses account for roughly half of private-sector employment in the U.S.

These changes improve the bottom line and employee satisfaction while reducing a company’s carbon footprint

Company B recently converted all paper documents to digital copies and only stores information that must be kept in paper format. They keep all their data in a regulatory-friendly cloud solution and can access every document on file within a few minutes. As a result, the company is better prepared for disasters and has enhanced their business continuity planning. Whether working with an insurer, a customer, or a medical vendor, any Company B employee can easily handle several requests in a day’s time.

Company B has reduced paper waste, improved turnaround times, saved money, and improved their customer experience. These changes improve the bottom line and employee satisfaction while reducing a company’s carbon footprint. Sustainability using modern technology is a win-win situation for today’s small and midsize businesses.

Use modern solutions to transform business — any budget, any business

While sustainability can include eco-friendly installations and product commitments, these stereotypical fixes are not always part of the solution. To gain the most benefit from small business sustainability, look for areas where your strategic business goals match up with sustainability goals. If you need to cut overhead costs, use technology to improve workflow efficiencies and support remote work. If all of your equipment is getting old, start replacing pieces incrementally or partnering with services providers that can provide economies of scale.

Look for areas where your strategic business goals match up with sustainability goals

Global supply chains, consumers, and entire countries are committing to sustainable practices, and those who don’t join in are seeing the negative repercussions. Digitization often plays a role in sustainable success. For example, a telecommunications company saved over $1 million in overhead by using technology-driven solutions to reduce paper waste.
 

​Regardless of your stance on climate change, sustainability supports every business goal including profit, employee satisfaction, environmental conscientiousness, and customer satisfaction.

 

Put your business into perspective

Everyone on the planet is connected, and technological advancement is breaking down more barriers every day. You may think your business of 5, 50, or 500 employees has minimal impact on the world as a whole, but consider this – according to the most recent census data, small businesses account for roughly half of private-sector employment in the U.S. Collectively, small businesses can have an impact on the economy and environment that rivals much larger corporations.

Regardless of your stance on climate change, sustainability supports every business goal including profit, employee satisfaction, environmental conscientiousness, and customer satisfaction. In 2017, the question isn’t really “Why should my business join the sustainability movement?” it’s “How can we start?”

If your business is ready to learn more about what modern business sustainability really looks like, download “The Small Business Guide to Sustainability,” your comprehensive guide to going green and becoming a more efficient business in the process.

The small business sustainability guide

If your business is ready to learn more about the benefits of modern business sustainability, download this guide to going green and becoming a more efficient organization in the process.
 
Mike Strawn
Mike Strawn, Director, Services Business Development, Ricoh USA, Inc., is responsible for the vision and development of Ricoh’s services portfolio strategy capitalizing on new technology trends and delivery models. Strawn’s an accomplished business leader with more than 18 years of experience in marketing, sales, and services operations at Ricoh.