5 steps for your small business to manage environmental impacts and boost growth – part 2

In the previous blog, we talked about 5 steps you could take to improve or sustain your economic growth without compromising your carbon footprint. They included having a plan which took into consideration environmental issues such as raw material costs, disposal costs, etc; to realising being a small business means you can be agile, but that this flexibility needed a built-in core resilience.

In part 2, we continue with 5 more steps to show you how to think more strategically, rather than operationally when it comes to environment management.

6. Enough of red tape – There are a lot of legislations out there covering environmental matters. Which means having to provide regulators with some kind of proof. For a small business, it’s impossible to avoid these red tape – access to certain services, support and resources might be denied unless a mountain of documents are filled in. And for a small business owner, time is money. Take a look at the new additions in ISO 14001 relating to what is called ‘documented information’. It provides guidance in ways to help you develop a rationale for having, or not, that document. And that you can always revisit should circumstances change. It mentions also, in specific instances where documentation is needed, even that can be as simple as the demands put on it. In fact, more often, you’ll find you’re already producing these documentations for your own records anyway.

7. You are in the driving seat – When you are a small business owner, you are in control – your actions get translated into results almost instantly without much intervention. However, you can’t be sure that your method of control is the most effective. Especially when it comes to environmental issues and aligning with regulations, you might feel this is beyond your sphere of knowledge. So we would suggest you look into operational control (made famous in ISO 14001) to identify things which you can control and others which you can only influence.

8. Measure twice, cut once – No raw material is so cheap that they can be used without measurement. Taking an environmental perspective on measurement, monitoring, analysis and evaluation, such as that embedded in ISO 14001 is of benefit to a small business. The implications of rising (and falling) costs can be tracked through the system quickly and new strategies devised to either take advantage of potential windfalls or offset the increases through changed processes.

Measurement and monitoring then takes on a different role; additional accuracy and breadth here means that feedback not only speeds up reaction times, it makes greater depth of analysis possible and thus better output maintenance. The same principle can apply to all the resources an organization draws upon, whether it’s energy, materials or supplied services, all of which affect overall financial performance.

9. Look at the big picture - Managers of smaller businesses can afford to step back and keep an eye on the bigger picture, simply because the limited manpower encourages multiple roles being filled. This flexible application can sometimes draw negative comments of being a ‘jack of all trades’. But such comments mistake the gifts of being a generalist for a lack of knowledge. Multi-role owners and managers have to grasp the essentials of any subject quickly if they are to be at all successful.

Stepping back and taking a strategic helicopter view has always been part of management system standards, but the new version of ISO 14001 has introduced a specific reference to ensuring that the implications of changes are considered directly in the light of the businesses strategic direction. This sort of review is likely to encourage innovative responses to threats such as potentially over extended supply chains, the sentiments of markets, potential cost spikes, etc. Essentially, due to the all-encompassing nature of environmental management, it’s the sort of approach that builds on the natural abilities of managers in small businesses.

10. Do what you say - Actions not only speak louder than words in a small business; the results positively yell from the rooftops. The measurable parameters of growing and improving are thus pretty much the same thing and if one of the two elements is not discernible with the naked eye, the other will be hard to find as well. ISO 14001 works on the principle that corrective actions when things go wrong speak louder than corrective words attempting to smooth over the problem. It calls for analysis of why things went wrong in the first place and then responding in such a way that it doesn’t have a chance to go wrong again.

If you think that your business could use some help with environmental monitoring to become more sustainable, then BSI can advise you. We can audit and train you on the new ISO 14001:2015 standard which will allow you to track and report on your resource consumption. This will give you a clear understanding of what you need to do to achieve your goal. For more information, call us on 0345 080 9000 or email us at cservices@bsigroup.com