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Sustainable Business For Good Ideas
Do you feel like there is more we could do to change the world? As a freelancer, digital nomad, entrepreneur or small business owner, do you wish you could do more?
Whether it’s fundraising for a good cause, donating your products to those who need it, or campaigning for social and environmental sustainability in your community, even a small business can make a positive impact.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
But how do you make room for philanthropy when you’re focused on day to day operations?
Starting a new business is an exciting time, as you embark on your entrepreneurial journey with passion and determination. New ventures can often incorporate sustainability as a focus.
Whether it’s a drink, a clothing brand, outdoor venture, online business or a café, many of us want include sustainability as part of our brand.
There are many small ways you can adapt your working practices and working day for sustainability, not just by making charitable handouts.
Business can generate positive outcomes by focusing on social responsibility as well as profit in many ways ranging from reducing carbon footprint, ethical sourcing to charity fundraisers and volunteering. It’s not just big corporations like Google, Netflix or organisations like Toms donating 60 million pairs of shoes to children in need.
Digital nomads and freelancers who travel end enjoy spending time outdoors are often passionate about environmental and conservation issues and want to make a difference in whichever way they can. Small businesses and self-employed are often at the forefront of social and environmental impact and make up the bulk of businesses.
While being ‘socially responsible’ can often be seen as a marketing strategy, the tips below will look at some practical and inspiring ideas for how you can make a positive impact through the decisions you make as a business owner.
8 Ways to Become a Business as a Force For Good
Make Sustainable Choices and Ethical Partnerships
A business that is operating as a force-for-good considers the wider ethical responsibilities of operating. If you’re business uses consumables, often you can choose suppliers and source products that are less harmful to animals, the planet and/or are sustainable.
If you are manufacturing products you can do the same. If you outsource the manufacturing, this might be a bit more difficult but you can carefully review and select your partners to ensure they meet your ethical standards. A great example of this is LUSH ethical, natural and handmade cosmetics.
If you grow your own produce then consider sustainable agricultural practices where possible such as permaculture techniques and organic methods.
If you freelance, travel as a digital nomad or mainly operate your business through digital you may have fewer physical requirements for your business operations but you can still consider the ethical and social responsibility of the online services you use.
For example, by choosing a dedicated green web hosting provider such as GreenGeeks or a provider with high ethical standards like Siteground, both of which are excellent hosting providers and use renewable energy.
Dealing with companies that are questionable can actually harm your business while partnering with companies that support your ethical principles can actually support your brand while working together towards the bigger picture.
Improve Your Business Culture
Adopt a culture that is founded on kindness, integrity and respect for all, whether that’s employees or contractors. Place a high value on fairness, employee rights and equal pay.
If the Pandemic has taught us something about working habits it’s that there are many ways to contribute to employee (and your own) work-life-balance by offering flexible working schedules, part-time work and opportunities for working remotely.
Workplace diversity and equality should create a safe place for people to work without harassment, embracing a diverse workforce.
You can expect to see more companies taking a public stand against harassment and discrimination thanks to the #metoo movement. Diversity in the workplace will continue to expand providing equal opportunities to people of all races, genders, cultures, disabilities, and sexual orientations.
In the long-run, the result of championing workplace culture will also feed through to your customer service and satisfaction.
Support Local Initiatives
Supporting local initiatives is a great way to make a difference in your community while building new connections.
This can include sponsoring events and fundraisers, donating products (or providing them at a reduced rate) or providing a venue if you have one.
For individuals or small businesses you can volunteer your time to participate in events or activities that benefit your local community. If you’ve got a team you can give them time off from work to participate.
By supporting local initiatives you will make a difference and build re reputation for giving back.
Lead by Example
As a responsible business you can start your own initiative by looking at what your community needs and start a movement of your own.
One way of doing this is to provide your services at a reduced rate for those who can’t afford a standard or premium price.
By allowing people to pay what they can afford you can cater to those who could benefit from your product or services but do not have the means to pay the typical amount.
Work With An Existing Charity
Another way to make a difference while aligning your business with the ethical values that are important to you is to choose a dedicated charity or charitable causes to support on a regular basis.
Choose something that is really meaningful to you, your company and employees. Once you’ve chosen your charity or charities you can start to think creatively about fundraising and organise activities accordingly.
There are so many charities around the world doing great work there is sure to be something that aligns with your values. Check out the charities and causes we endorse here at Free Range Entrepreneur.
Donate Your Time or Resources
We often imagine businesses giving products or services to those in need. However donating time and resources can be an excellent way to give back. To make the most of this for everyone, give what you are good at.
- Get involved in volunteering events like a plastic clean up at the beach.
- Volunteer time and services that align with your existing skills and business. Such as providing free professional advice or pro bono services.
- Donate time for building, maintenance and DIY skills to community projects.
Reduce and Eliminate Harm
Business large and small can often find things they are doing that are causing undue stress to the environment or social pressures. Take a close look at what processes and services may be causing harm and which of those are necessary to your business.
You may be able to eliminate some of these or make improvements by reducing waste, recycling (e.g. providing easy access to recycling bins) and reducing carbon footprint thus making a neutral or even positive impact on sustainability and conservation.
Gong paperless is a great way to reduce environmental impact but what if you are already operating mainly in digital? You can still look at using renewable energy and energy-saving devices.
This can include choosing services that run on renewable energy and, as mentioned previously, dedicated green web hosting providers such as GreenGeeks and Siteground who both employ renewable energy for powering their data centres.
As a freelancer or small business you can calculate your carbon footprint here, here and here and can then look at ways of reducing waste. You can also offset your business’s carbon footprint to achieve Carbonfree Certification via CarbonFund.org and invest in carbon offset projects at Carbon Footprint and ClimateCare.
Taking steps to be sustainable means future-proofing your business by minimizing social and environmental impacts. But how much more are customers actually willing to pay? The Software Advice report found that, for a $100 product, customers were willing to pay an average of
- $27 more if it the product was made under good working conditions.
- $19.50 more if the production’s carbon emissions were offset.
- $18.50 more if the raw materials were sourced ethically.
So by investing in an ethical supply chain, small businesses and entrepreneurs can position themselves to engage with a conscientious and passionate customer base. Consumers are willing to pay as much as 25% more for goods that reflect their values, and not only, they are actively seeking out sustainable companies.
Certified B Corporation
While this may not be viable for all businesses, getting B Corp Certified is a great way to really show you are serious about making a difference.
Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balance purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.
It is a growing community of over 3,900 companies and leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good.
Certified B corporation meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability and as such is more than just a tick-box exercise and shows real commitment.
You would be forgiven for thinking it’s only for large companies, in fact, there is no minimum size for B Corp Certification and your organisation’s size will influence the questions you have to answer to meet the performance requirement for Certification.
However Certified B Corporations do have to pay an annual certification fee, which licenses them to use intellectual property like the Certified B Corp logo and starts from $1000 and scales with revenue.
If you make it a point to embrace sustainable practices and support a good cause though your business, don’t keep it a secret. Share your pro-social initiatives and information on your website, social media and product information to your customers as they want to know. You can even incorporate it into your brand or company values.
For millennials and generation Z, socially responsible companies are more important than ever. They believe companies should be invested in improving society and look for solutions that will assist in these improvements.
After all, the benefits are not only limited to your business but can have a positive impact in so many ways.
Let us know your thoughts and leave a comment below if you’ve adopted any new sustainable practices or started you own initiatives.