Creating a Green, Planet-Friendly Business: A Roadmap

Are you about to launch your very own business? Making it sustainable or “green” would be a smart decision. Sustainable businesses are in keeping with the times – they’re planet-friendly, popular with customers, and often economically outperform other “traditional” businesses. Also, knowing that you’re the owner of a planet-friendly business that’s helping the ecosystem is a good feeling. 

Of course, wanting to make an eco-friendly business is different than actually making one. It requires some serious planning and resource investment (which you should be able to recoup down the road). Check out the guide below, which offers practical tips to help you map out and implement a sustainable business from scratch:     

What does going green mean in a business sense? 

Sustainability is a constantly-evolving concept. It also looks different for different industries and niches. As such, there is no be-all, end-all way to make a business “green.” Having said that, a business is considered eco-friendly when it has a neutral or beneficial social, ecological, and economical footprint. To simplify further, businesses are typically made up of multiple processes, like procurement, manufacturing, and shipping. When you can make these processes eco-friendly, you have a green business.  

Does sustainability require an extra investment? 

As you can probably tell, becoming sustainable is a challenge and not something that happens overnight. Designing sustainable processes and implementing them can take some doing. For instance, say you need an eco-friendly supplier to source raw materials from – you have to scout one out, double-check their credentials, and then set up a working relationship with them. This would be something you would have to do for every process. It could require serious effort, expertise, and resources.  

Are there any challenges you could face? 

There are multiple challenges to going green, as PBS can verify. Sustainability isn’t well-defined, so it’s hard to know what to do and how. You may need to find green consultants who can share their expertise with you. Some of the other top challenges you could encounter are lack of collaborators, lack of funding, failed processes, lack of traction in the market, and lack of buy-in from investors or employees. 

Keep in mind that while sustainability is admittedly expensive to implement initially, it can be quite profitable, as Limelight can confirm. Like with all business-related initiatives, it can take a while to bear fruit.

How to go green with your new business 

Are you committed to going green? Here is a roadmap to follow to get there:  

1. Choose a business structure

If you’re starting your business from the ground up, you’ll need to take care of a few to-dos before diving into your going-green plan. First and foremost, you’ll need to choose a legal entity to file your business under. There are several options to choose from.

Two popular choices include S and C corps. C corps are usually better suited to large companies that would be hindered by growth restrictions and that benefit from having both foreign and domestic shareholders. S corps, on the other hand, benefit small businesses with pass-through taxation options, self-employment tax savings, and tax deductions on their business’s financial losses. An LLC S corp Texas designation can be obtained inexpensively with an online formation service. You can also check out this S corp vs C corp pros cons guide for more information on these entities.

Other entrepreneurs choose to start an LLC in Texas. LLCs require very little paperwork to set up compared to corporations, and they ensure a business owner’s personal property is protected from any business debt their company incurs. For these reasons, LLCs are a safe option for many new startups. 

2. Map out your green initiatives with a “greenprint” 

Every good business starts with a solid business plan – and every “green” one with a “greenprint.” A green business plan is essentially a document that helps you delineate and map out green processes. It will include your goals (like a low carbon footprint or low energy use), strategies, funding, and other plans. You can nail down the specifics, depending on your budget, local ecosystem, knowledge, local trends, and available resources.  

3. Make sustainability a core tenet of your culture  

Making sustainability a part of your company culture helps in multiple ways. First, you can’t be sustainable alone – your investors, clients, customers, and employees have to support the initiative too. A sustainable culture attracts other people who care about the concept. Moreover, it becomes easier to train your employees to be the same way and give them guidelines on how to be.  

4. Find a green workspace (or make one)

Having a green workspace also helps on several levels. It’s better for the environment, makes your employees healthier and happier, boosts productivity, and gives you a marketing and visibility boost. You could rent office space in a green building or make an existing space eco-friendly. For the latter, it may involve introducing more natural lighting, using eco-friendly paint, using clean energy, and acquiring energy-efficient equipment.  

5. Prioritize sustainability wherever possible

Sustainability doesn’t have to be something grand or perfect – small steps help, and they all add up. It may not be possible to build a fully sustainable business from the get-go, but you should still be able to make sustainable choices in many places. For example, using clean energy (such as  installing solar panels), reusing cutlery, favoring public transport, using recyclable packaging, and more. 

Software and technology can support your sustainability drive. Technology is an inherent time and energy saver. You can get more done in less time, say by using utility project management tools, communication tools, and employee engagement software. Sometimes, it also helps save on tangible resources. For example, consider PDF editors. They let you share digital documents, edit them, sign them, and more without having to print anything out. You upload files online, make changes, and then download and use them. 

6. Market your green initiatives for the best results 

Marketing your green initiatives is an important part of going green. It allows you to generate brand visibility, making it easier for investors and employees to find you. Furthermore, it allows customers who care about sustainability to locate your brand. Without a green marketing campaign, it will be hard for you to remain sustainable long-term.

7. Be inspired by other green leaders

You don’t need to design green processes from scratch – you can take inspiration from existing green leaders. See what they’re doing and see if you can replicate their success. Osram Licht AG is a manufacturing giant that’s all set to go climate neutral by 2030. ING Group NV has been climate-neutral since 2007 and aims for zero coal use by 2025. Smaller businesses are also following suit by reducing waste, prioritizing green transport, and minimizing CO2 emissions. 

Going green isn’t something you have to do overnight. You can make small changes and slowly change your processes over time. In time, you will succeed in creating an eco-friendly business. That’s the most challenging part. Once you have momentum going, your sustainable business will sustain itself. 

To learn from your fellow local entrepreneurs, join the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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