5 steps for your small business to manage environmental impacts and boost growth – part 1

There’s a new reality in town for the small business owner, and that is: how do you improve or even sustain economic growth without increasing your carbon footprint? If you, like many other small business owners around the world are wondering how to achieve growth without compromising the environment, then here are some steps you can take.

1. Make a plan - If you’ve got a plan, you’ll have analyzed everything regarding your business including key risks factors that could affect it. And with this, there will be some understanding of climate-related issues, such as raw material costs, energy costs and waste disposal costs.  And once you’ve done this, you’ll be on the way to meeting one of the prime requirements of the new EMS  ISO 14001:2015 – and that is to understand the environmental issues facing your company in terms of operating context.

2. Expect the unexpected - Whether it’s a price or meeting a customer’s last minute rush orders, some of your actions might have negative implications. It might surprise you to know, that for every complaint you get to hear about, there might be some unvoiced thoughts about your business. You might only find out about this when you put in a planning application for a change of use on a building, or to extend the hours of operation of a site. Suddenly, the costs of doing business escalates and stalls growth. So from an environmental angle,  you can’t always meet your customer’s requirement - just know what they are and consider what you can do. In doing so, you’ve just increased the future–proofing of your business.

3. Be a leader - Leadership is a function of what you do and not just a job title. It means being able to focus on a shared future and being able to articulate it to others. It means caring about all your working relationships, and planning for scenarios that others don’t think about, including issues that matter environmentally. As natural resources and raw materials start to cost more, as markets and climates become more volatile, and as energy sources change and fuel prices fluctuate more widely, you need to consider climate concerns.  If you want to lay down some real markers on the future, this hard won knowledge of leadership from the inside needs a focus to help bring it into reality.

4. Small is being agile - Small isn’t just more personal. It demands more from every part of the organization. Smaller companies are more flexible, more responsive and more open to embracing sudden change especially if there is an environmental impact involved. This agility in realizing opportunities is prized and nurtured by small business owners.  The real challenge is to build resilience into the core of that flexibility. Hence thinking strategically is essential, having a solid foundation of resource planning and market knowledge, and being able to identify risks and opportunities from a wide range of sources.

5. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it - Planning for change is one thing. Constantly initiating it for the sake of it is another. There is a natural tendency to get the most out of existing ways of doing things. This approach is not without merit; sweating assets and making sure they work for a living is good economic sense. However, more often than not, this leaves the organization exposed when it’s put under pressure. The trick is to harness a ‘light touch’ approach that allows change in the areas needed most. All management system standards have this approach integrated into their structure, but the unique angle offered by ISO 14001 here is the link to the broader perspective. Meaning, you’ve already identified the medium term changes likely to be prompted by the external pressures of the environment. 

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 +1 800 862 4977 or email us at inquiry.msamericas@bsigroup.com.