Sustainable Business: Why Your Startup Should Go Green

31 Jul 2016

Chris Smith

Chris Smith is a Glasgow based writer and blogger. He writes about sports and finance on his blog Spend It Like Beckham, and has been published in a number of high profile publications, including The Guardian, the Telegraph and The Huffington Post.

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When it comes to starting a business, many entrepreneurs (particularly those in the eco-friendly sector) will concede that success is concerned with giving the people what they want. As for small business, many of us expect startups to have some degree of green credulity from the get-go, in the form of a sustainable business.

Research shows us that this trend is going beyond startups and further into big businesses. A survey carried out by McKinsey revealed that the respondents are increasingly taking a long-term strategic view of pursuing and integrating sustainability opportunities into their business models.

Looking at startups, having that green, eco-friendly business model from the get-go presents a number of advantages. Firstly, the very fact that a company is small can lend itself well to a marketing strategy, as the reduced overheads and smaller operating capacity will make for a business that has a smaller carbon footprint than a large multinational competitor.

To demonstrate this, we can look at the Innocent Drinks Company as an example. The company’s reputation gained traction on social media as being an eco-conscious enterprise. When this is compared to some other big hitters in the juice market, such as Tropicana and Robinsons (owned by the large corporations Pepsi and BritVic, respectively), we can see how Innocent Drinks have been able to gain such a strong foothold in an already crowded marketplace. Somewhat ironically, it is worth noting that as of 2013, the Coca-Cola Company now owns a 90 percent stake of the business.


Also on StartupNation.com: Sustainable Packaging for Your Brand


Obviously, if you were to find yourself in a position where the company that you started is being courted by one of the world’s largest and most valuable brands, the thought of turning down any offer is potentially stomach churning. But it can be argued that the brand’s initial surge in popularity was down to its cheeky marketing campaign and green credentials.

This brings us to the second advantage of building a startup that is environmentally conscious and sustainable. Highly regarded green credentials are seen as a major advantage in terms of marketing opportunities, making them doubly important when trying to get an idea off of the ground. Businesses both big and small do what they can to flaunt their sustainability. The Internet is full of guides on how to do this effectively.

Do it right, and you have the likes of Yorkshire Bank imparting advice on how to reduce the environmental impact of your home with a handy infographic. Take the opposite approach, and try to hide the carbon footprint of your business, then you’re left with the Volkswagen emissions scandal. This equates to brand damage that will take years of considered marketing strategy to recover.

When it comes to making your businesses environmentally friendly, the best approach is not to make it forced, or disingenuous. The most effective way of achieving this is by having a personal belief in the sustainability of your business from day one.

Granted, your ability to employ such a strategy will differ massively, dependent on your startup’s industry. However, a mindfulness towards the environmental impact of your business can go a long way, especially when it is employed as a supporting foundation on day one. Your customers will latch onto this, and will support your business. That initial surge of brand loyalty is vital to the success of any startup, regardless of the industry in which it exists.

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