How others see your business is a fundamental driver for your entrepreneurial success. Digital Marketers like me, and even those who operate in a niche, concentrate on this before anything else when hired to boost your business.
The business personality can attract or detract new customers, it can create and destroy bonds and it can enhance or repair loyalty. For a business model to work, be it a service or a product, customers must feel as though they have something in common with the business, or that the business understands their core beliefs as a customer.
There are many ways to do this, too many to mention in one article. For instance, you can carve out a personality through social media interactions, you can partner with charities or like minded organisations and you can take part in events that host your desired target market. Of course, your service or product will be the star of the show, as you create demand for what you sell, but how you run your business and the ethos you follow is just as important. This is why many new businesses start out as green companies while even the bigger brands are transforming their energy consumption to show they care about the environment.
This move, along with the obvious environmental benefits, can actually persuade an eco-conscious customer to choose you over anyone else.
Working with some of the big energy companies and combi boiler providers, I’ve gained a few insights into how to go green for the least amount of money possible and how to generate profit from this advantageous move.
Being environmentally friendly is a choice that most businesses would opt for, but the concern in many people’s minds is how expensive it would be. The good news is that business can go green in small as well as big ways, so that it doesn’t have to cost the earth.
Energy saving measures
One simple way for your business to be more environmentally friendly is to simply reduce wasteful practices. This means taking a look at your operations and finding ways to cut out the more harmful habits. The good news is that this can save rather than cost you money. The Co-Operative Group has saved more than £50m per year since 2006 solely through staff training and education. Similarly, Nando’s managed to reduce its energy consumption by 9% by changing employees day-to-day habits.
Switching to LED lights will help reduce your energy bills now, as will training your employees to think about how they can avoid waste. Three easy ways that staff can make your business greener are:
- Turning off computers and monitors at night
- Tweaking the air-conditioning by a couple of degrees (more below)
- Only printing what is absolutely necessary
The average office workers prints off 10,000 pages every year, which can add up to a huge volume of paper and printer ink, when adding up all the employees in the company. There is usually no need to print out emails and when documents are stored in the cloud they can often be edited online, saving the need for print-outs.
Upgrade Your Boiler
Upgrading a boiler can save you a lot of money and if you want to go a step further, you could make the transition from oil to gas or vice versa. Choose a high quality boiler to save on maintenance costs and watch as your business utilities decrease.
These measures alone will help to reduce your energy bills and boost your green credentials.
Positive public image
Going green is something that often pays dividends through the positive media coverage that results. Research suggests that a business gets 35-50% more favourable media attention when it promotes its green activities compared to other types of publicity. In addition, the vast majority of young professionals (90%) cite having an eco-focus as being a factor when choosing between employers.
All businesses will have smart meter technology installed by 2020 and this should help companies identify how they can be more energy efficient. It will also help both when sourcing energy and in tackling over-consumption in the business.
Higher energy costs
The UK government previously gave a tax exemption to businesses that purchased renewable energy but unfortunately began phasing this out from August 2015 (contact the Tax Rebate and other tax services through Tax Rebate Services for more details). This has meant that brown energy is becoming cheaper. However, Danish utility company DONG Energy is offering to make up the difference in price between old and renewable energy, so that UK businesses can continue to use green electricity without suffering financially.
Many people think that investing in green initiatives takes a lot of up-front capital investment. It seems more manageable for large companies and smaller businesses sometimes think going green is just too expensive. However, various government initiatives have helped SMEs to make even the big investments more affordable. One example is the Green Deal, which is designed to help businesses become more energy efficient.
For a long term impact consider installing solar panels. The government’s Feed-in tariff means that owners receive an index linked 8-13% return on investment over 20 years. Panels typically have a life span of 50 years, so the long term benefits are attractive. Costs for a small business average around £7,000 (around the same as a residential property), while for a mid-size office building the investment is about £20,000. Larger premises, such as a warehouse that consumes a lot of energy, are probably looking at around £50,000. Remember that the installer and the panel must be MCS accredited in order to be eligible for the Feed-in tariff.
So, from a businesses perspective, going green is worth it in terms of positive PR and cost savings, especially for those small easy-to-implement changes. Other, more long term measures may require greater up-front investment, but should offer a good return for businesses.
Martina Mercer is a freelance marketing consultant, editor and copywriter. Her clients include big brands such as Tax Rebate Services andSunday Woman Magazine. Martina writes for a variety of publications such as Huff Post, Forbes and Moz. She has over 15 years experience in marketing, SEO and copywriting.