A Simple Guide to Sustainable Business Practices for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

A Simple Guide to Sustainable Business Practices for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

By Indiana Lee

With what often seems like an infinite number of choices when starting a new business, it can be difficult to decide on your first steps as an aspiring entrepreneur. However, the right path is a green one. From the get-go, new business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs would be remiss not to embrace sustainable business practices.

Not only is this way of doing business better for the environment, but adopting eco-friendly operations can also benefit your company’s bottom line. You don’t want to miss out on opportunities to obtain green loans and tax credits, nor how green business practices can improve brand image and attract modern and socially conscious consumers.

From utilizing renewable energy to going paperless, implementing sustainable business practices is simpler and more affordable than you think.

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1. Consider a green office design

First, start with greening your office. Every year, conscientious business owners embrace the latest design approaches to green buildings. From the widespread use of used office furniture; natural and recycled materials to innovative elements like water harvesting, eco-friendly office buildings are on the rise.

As a new business owner, you may not yet have the budget to design a green building or office for yourself, however with 30 of the United States’ largest cities having recorded record levels of “green-certified” office space, you are likely to find green office buildings offering space to rent.

Co-working spaces, where businesses and entrepreneurs share office equipment, boardroom, training rooms, and office space, is another sustainable solution for new businesses that also helps to cut business expenses and costs.

Related Post: Eco Startups: 8 Green Entrepreneurship Business Ideas?

Photo by Austin Distel.

If and when the day comes that your business is able to invest in office design, you may want to look to Microsoft for inspiration. The tech giant ranks as America’s most environmentally friendly company. Currently, Microsoft is working toward its goal to make all its facilities “zero carbon.” To do so, the company is reducing carbon in its building materials and committing to only using clean energy.

2. Ditch paper, go digital

From reducing operation costs to helping cultivate an environmentally-conscious brand image, the benefits of going digital are numerous. While ditching paper may, initially, seem like an overwhelming undertaking, it’s actually not as difficult as you may think. In fact, new businesses across industries are capable of going paperless.

At its core, going digital means less paper waste. With trillions of sheets of paper consumed in offices annually, the decision to go digital (along with using clean and renewable electricity at the office) can have a major positive environmental impact. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you can make it company policy to share information electronically.

When communication is done via email and reports are sent electronically, your new business will decrease not only its waste but also office supplies costs. It’s not just the cost of reams of paper, but ink and toner too. Then, factor in the IT labor costs for fixing the seemingly always broken printer that exists in every office.

Green scanning services and electronic backup storage makes going digital a breeze. Instead of waiting to ditch paper sometime down the road, just scan and save money– and the environment!

And while we’re on the subject of supplies, you should really purchase eco-friendly office stationary. Check out this comprehensive list 32 eco-friendly office products for your start-up.

A Guide to Sustainable Business Practices for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Credit: STIL.

3. Embrace green technology

The old “but we’ve always done it this way” line of thinking isn’t a good enough reason to continue a wasteful business practice. Case in point: office electricity. Rather than sticking with inefficient and fossil fuel powered electricity, aspiring entrepreneurs should adopt clean and renewable energy or invest in smart grid technologies

What is a smart grid technology? The latest in modern power generation, a smart grid “learns” the behavior of renewable power generation resources—such as solar, wind and hydro—and uses that understanding to optimize energy production. In addition to being significantly more reliable than a traditional grid, a smart grid can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 211 metric tons.

Over the next 30 years, the expected value for all the energy smart grids is estimated at $102 billion. This is a technology to watch.

4. Green finance

As an aspiring green entrepreneur or business owner, you may be aware that capital can be as scarce a resource as not-so-renewable coal and oil. So, if you’ve made the effort to make yourself eligible, you won’t want to miss out on green loans and energy-efficient tax credits.

With the goal of increasing companies’ sustainability initiatives, “green loans” are private loans for which the cost of the loan does not exceed the cost of the energy saved. New businesses can use these loans for a variety of purposes, and after the first year, the lender will reduce rates as long as the company meets specific sustainability benchmarks.

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Even better than green loans are energy efficient tax credits. Unlike loans, new business owners don’t need to pay back green tax credits. Businesses of all sizes can qualify for energy tax credits (in the U.S. that is, you’ll need to check if you’re own country has something similar).

As an aspiring entrepreneur, you will want to consider the following sustainable business practices in order to qualify for energy investment tax credits:

  • Solar technology
  • Fuel cells
  • Wind turbines
  • Geothermal systems
  • Combined heat and power

With the chance to both help the environment and benefit financially, this list should serve as a guide to balancing profit with environmental responsibility. While it may be tempting to put off enacting eco-friendly operations and policy, there really is no better time to embrace sustainable practices than when your new venture is just getting off the ground.

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Feature image by ROOM.

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