According to a recent report, there was a 59% jump last year in the number of businesses that have gone green. This is great for the environment, plus nine out of ten of those businesses experienced cost savings by going green. Going green could spell black for your business, and this is especially important for small businesses. While it requires more heavy lifting and thinking on your part at the onset, the payoff is great in that it will help you reduce waste and operate more efficiently. Here’s advice for small business owners to take stock of how they operate in order to pave the way toward greener pastures.
Just Say No to Paper: While it’s nearly ingrained within most of us to print out and send paper documents to customers, you don’t have to today. Make sure you have software to convert documents from PDFs to Word, Excel or PowerPoint, and to PDFs, and then rely solely on email for transmitting your documents and/or correspondence with others. In this day and age where everyone is on the go, moving to an “all email” practice should be an easy transition. Also try to e-file all documents versus printing papers out and filing them in a physical folder. While saving on storage space, the benefit to the environment is that you’ll save a tree and reduce the amount of paper and ink costs normally incurred when you’re printing the old school way.
Send and Receive Invoices and Bills Efficiently: Sending invoices and receiving bills electronically does more than save paper – it saves you money (think no envelopes & no postage) and will provide you with an accurate accounting of when an invoice or bill is received. As for paying your bills, using electronic bill payment services will allow you to issue payment by (and not before) the due date- most bank e-payment services guarantee payment delivery dates or pay for late penalties -which eliminates the need to buy checks, envelopes and postage to pay bills.
Outsource Your IT and Reach for the Cloud: Most large companies require vendors to set up Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) capabilities for the transmission of purchase orders and invoices. If you need EDI capabilities, I recommend using a web-based (cloud computing) EDI provider versus trying to set up your own internal EDI system, unless you already have an internal IT department in place.
Evaluate a Products’ Packaging: Pay attention to the way you package your goods. Make sure that the packaging is sturdy to withstand warehouse and transportation handling, but don’t over engineer it so it is too bulky or heavy. Consumers and retailers are not only concerned about what is in your package, but the packaging itself, so try to use materials that are both recyclable and post recyclable.
Shipping the Right Way Can Save You Money: Transportation costs, especially with today’s gas prices, are higher than ever and everyone is looking for more efficient ways to ship. The more you ship at one time, the less it will cost per pound; it’s greener, too, because it requires less packaging, less handling and less gas. Work with your customers to identify a minimum for orders to increase the amount you ship at one time; you save and they save because they too will reduce the handling cost of receiving your products into their warehouse. Ship in pallets versus cartons, if possible — this increases the order size, reduces the per pound transportation cost, and lessens the potential for transportation damage.
Evaluate your supply chain logistics and work with your customers to see if there are greater efficiencies you can deploy to become even greener while saving money.
The benefits are tangible when you seek out environmentally conscious business practices. From saving trees to your bottom line — it may not be easy, but it’s great being green!
Quincy Yu, has spent her 30+ year career consulting for big and small businesses across a variety of industries, and currently she serves as President of SeaYu Enterprises, makers of Clean+Green natural pet stain and odor removers.