Sustainability Tips for SMEs

Sustainability
 
There are many challenges facing small businesses these days and while overcoming those hurdles business owners are also looking to go the extra mile to stay true to their own brand values. For example, to be green, to stay true to set ethical values, to support other local enterprises or even national concerns such as charities. 
In addition to this, with increased regulation and growing public awareness of environmental concerns, sustainability is a topic that no business can ignore. Sustainability is something to constantly consider and to plan for.
 

The Challenges Facing SMEs

The commercial marketplace is always evolving, and SMEs face daily challenges to stay competitive. As a result, more than 70 percent find that they lack the resources to put their sustainability plans into action. Most realise that sustainability is an important topic, but if it is not something that directly impacts the bottom line, it is inevitably deprioritised.

There is also a question of know-how. An SME will not have experts on hand to tackle sustainability issues and draw up a strategy along the lines of the larger companies. But that doesn’t mean you can do nothing.

Benefits of Implementing Sustainability in SMEs

These are challenges that apply to SMEs across the board in all industries. The first step is always the hardest, and it is as much about mindset as anything else. Look at the benefits that a sustainability strategy can bring, particularly in a sector where the competition is slow to get started.

For one thing, you will find that your brand image gains a welcome boost. Today’s consumers are savvy people, and you will attract a whole new demographic that is willing to pay more for a product or service from a sustainable supplier.

For another, you will find that many of the simple measures you can adopt will have direct financial benefits.

Simple Sustainability Strategies

You don’t need a 100-page strategy to improve sustainability in your business, all it really takes is some common sense. Here are some examples:

 

  • Recycling – This goes beyond bins for bottles and drink cans and can run through the entire business. Speak to your printer toner manufacturer or supplier about what to do with old toners, and introduce a policy that if paper has only been used on one side, it gets fed back into the printer. Costs and consumption will reduce dramatically.
  • LED lightingLEDs make the office environment a nicer place to be and use far less electricity. They also last longer than conventional light bulbs. 
  • Car pooling – Offer incentives for employees to car pool. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, and will increase office morale as people get to know each other better and save themselves some fuel costs.
  • Get everyone involved – make sustainability a topic that everyone is involved in, and ask the team to come up with ideas for new ways the business can reduce its carbon footprint – usually, this will also result in saving money.

 

 

Getting My Business Out There

Business
Photo credit

According to my emails via LinkedIn and the kind congratulations they contained I should be celebrating a work anniversary this week, six years as the owner of Candid Copywriting. I’ve been self-employed for nine years now however officially becoming CC was a turning point for me and I’ve worked full time as a freelance copywriter ever since.

When I look back to the beginning of my business journey there are a few things I would change. I know people say that your past mistakes form the present “you” however when it came to marketing in the early days the only thing some of my efforts shaped was an empty purse and wasted time.

I did all of the usual stuff, advertised in the local In Focus magazine which cost a fortune and promised a huge return (no one ever admitted to seeing it, let alone got in touch) and attended the formal networking meetings (ego lunches) to no avail.

The problem with starting out I found, particularly with marketing is that you really need to concentrate on your target audience or area and secondly, you could probably do with some help. I was so busy at that point writing copy that marketing was a sideline which it really shouldn’t have been.

Thankfully my advertising misadventures have not cost me too dearly and now, years on I have a thriving business which I love; I have a great book of clients, I am able to pick and choose what projects I take on, I choose my own hours, I really enjoy copywriting and of course what I do is so family friendly.

To be fair though I think I was fortunate, despite my ham fisted marketing efforts early on, thanks to some great recommendations from people who liked my work to others who took me on because of it. If this hadn’t happened and my reputation hadn’t grown organically I’d have been scuppered!

If I was to have a time travel machine which could take me back and allow me to make some different choices I would look at something like leafleting, having someone create leaflets (something quirky yet professional) and have them distributed in the areas I wished to work. I like the idea of the hand to hand approach as opposed to a blanket advertisement in a magazine or similar, it suits how I like to work. I want people to hear what I do and how I do it and want to take a leaflet with my details on!

My advice to anyone starting out now or revisiting their market plan would be to really think about how your business is being advertised. Of course we are all taking advantage of the online (often free) methods of building a brand and advertising ourselves however it would be blinkered to think that you’ll catch everyone in your marketing net this way as there are so many different forms of advertising to exploit, if you will.

What you choose depends on your business, your message and what you are trying to achieve for example. For me gorgeous lads and lasses as walking billboards at an event or busy metropolitan area would not suit my particular business however for some could be a game changer.

It doesn’t matter how established you are, it always pays to shake up your marketing efforts every now and then and trying something new could take your business in directions you’d never imagined.

Did you waste time and money on advertising methods going back which really weren’t suitable for you and didn’t create the buzz you’d hoped for? What would your one piece of advice be for someone starting up now and looking to get their name out? Please do comment as I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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