Sustainability: Good for Business
By Deborah Smarth, Chief Operating Officer/Associate State Director, New Jersey Small Business Development Centers
Small and medium sized businesses might think that sustainability is only achievable by large companies who have the capacity and resources to develop comprehensive plans and hire dedicated sustainability staff. However, this is a misperception; the most successful sustainability strategies often start with simple, low cost initiatives that even the smallest business can accomplish. There are real opportunities for small businesses to yield significant benefits from the adoption of basic environmental best practices.
For businesses interested in sustainability, but not sure where to start, the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) offer pro bono sustainability consulting and technical assistance. Over the past two years small businesses across New Jersey have taken advantage of this no cost service to find ways to integrate environmentally friendly practices into their day to day operations. NJSDBC’s expert counselors work with business owners to identify ways to increase efficiency through energy conservation, waste reduction, pollution prevention, streamlined procurement and risk management. Businesses are provided a baseline assessment of their environmental footprint, and a series of recommendations on how to implement sustainable practices. Small business owners can take advantage of this service, by visiting https://www.njsbdc.com/sustainability-consulting/.
In addition to no-cost environmental counseling services, NJSBDC, in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, has developed the New Jersey Sustainability Business Registry (NJSBR). The Registry was created to recognize and promote sustainable businesses across the state. The NJSBR is open to companies of all types and sizes and there is no cost to join. Businesses that have implemented five sustainable practices are eligible to create a NJSBR profile and receive membership benefits.
NJSBR membership benefits include free marketing and promotional materials, including the use of the NJSBR logo on your business website, a “Sustainable Business” seal which can be displayed on site, a promotional profile of your company’s environmental efforts on the website, along with recognition and eligibility for the annual NJSBDC Sustainable Business Award. The NJSBR also offers comprehensive online resources to help organizations set and meet their sustainability goals. Businesses can apply online at http://registry.njsbdc.com/ to become recognized for their sustainability efforts.
For Stacey Schlosser, owner of Glassworks Studio in Morristown, joining the Registry was a smart business choice:
“I am so proud as a small business owner to have a place to register and be recognized for all of the large and small efforts I am making on behalf of a sustainable future. The process of registering was quite simple and I was able to use the recognition in marketing materials to grow my business by appealing to like-minded individuals. And of course, as a business person every action I registered for actually saved me money with the exception of 100% renewable energy which cost a little bit more. But the overall number is a plus for profitability. Last year Glassworks had its largest profit ever!”
Ultimately, it makes sense, business-wise, to run a sustainable, environmentally responsible business. New Jersey small business owners should explore integrating sustainable business practices for three very simple reasons.
- Sustainable business practices often increase profits and reduce waste;
- The practices small businesses need to adopt to increase sustainability are not that hard to implement; and,
- Sustainability increasingly transfers into good PR; especially positive brand association and stronger community engagement.
Businesses interested in learning more about how sustainable business practices can positively impact their company should reach out to NJSBDC to schedule a no cost sustainability consultation. Businesses already committed to and implementing environmentally friendly practices should take advantage of the benefits of the NJSBR by becoming a member today.
Deborah Smarth is the NJSBDC network Chief Operating Officer/Associate State Director. NJSBDC Headquarters contact information: 973-353-1927, or at sbdcINFO@njsbdc.com