Going green is not only good for the environment; it appears it can boost your small business. A just released survey of small businesses conducted by Green America (GA), EcoVentures International (EVI) and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) indicates that nearly four out of five (79 percent) respondents strongly agreed that offering green products and services gives their businesses a competitive edge. Furthermore, during the 2008-2011 economic down turn, 75 percent of respondents who sell green products or services experienced an increase in sales of their offerings.
According to the survey, over the past 10 years, the market for green products and services has expanded dramatically. As an example, the green building market has increased by 1,700 percent compared to the conventional building market, which has contracted by 17 percent. The organic food market has increased by 238 percent in comparison to the non-organic food market’s expansion of only 33 percent.
More green means more sales
Conducted from late June through early August last year, the survey of 1305 small businesses indicated that of the small businesses that reported increased sales during the recession, the more green the company was, the more likely it was to experience increased sales.
The survey segmented respondents into three groups based on the social and environmental attributes of their offerings and adoption of sustainable business practices – efficient use of water, energy and/or waste. The “deep green” segment of the survey (the 27 percent of small business owners who embrace green products and practices the most) reported stronger performance compared to their ‘light green’ peers (38 percent of respondents). A ‘medium green’ segment accounted for 35 percent of the respondents. Specifically the survey indicated:
- Deep green businesses were significantly more likely than their lighter green peers to agree that being green enabled them to expand and diversify their product and service offerings.
- Deep green businesses were significantly more likely to report a competitive advantage from their green offerings than their lighter green peers.
- Deep green businesses were far more likely to report strong revenue growth through the recession from their green products and services than their light green counterparts.
- Deep green businesses were significantly more likely than their less-green peers to report that their customers are willing to pay more for green products and services.
- Deep green businesses were far more likely than their lighter green counterparts to agree that their existing customers continue to support them because of their green attributes.
Survey analyst Dr. Julie Cincotta, principal, CLA Organizational Solutions, LLC, said: “This survey shows that green business is not just about feeling good, it positively impacts an organization’s bottom line. Green products and services are in growing demand by the American public. Small business operators agree that green practices and products can be the key to more sales and bigger profits.”
Green operational efficiencies
The report also indicated that green ‘operational efficiency’ practices increasingly are mainstream among small business owners. Respondents indicated that the 10 key operational investments that provide the fastest return on investments include:
- Purchase energy efficient equipment
- Train staff to conserve energy
- Install more efficient lighting
- Recycle and/or reuse in-house plastics, paper, metals, glass and/or organics
- Redesign product to require less energy in production
- Create employee incentives for reducing energy use
- Enable energy-saving settings on computers
- Increase purchasing of products in local vicinity
- Install energy efficient windows
- Install solar photovoltaic panels
Have you made changes in your business to offer more green products and services?
Recommended reading: Find out how Smarter Worker can help companies reduce their carbon footprint. Plantronics Smarter Working – The New Competitive Advantage.