Business isn’t often “good for the world.” In fact, until recently, many companies didn’t prioritize helping the planet (or even just not hurting it) as the main goal was to make money. However, new knowledge and a shift in consumer mindset have changed what businesses focus on. In addition, social entrepreneurs have come onto the stage with innovative business ideas that can make money and put the Earth first.
As an agency that offers management consulting services, Helianthus Advising specializes in working with these new “eco companies.” More than that, we are a sustainable business! Today, we wanted to focus on exactly what these companies are and what it means in comparison to traditional operations.
What Do Sustainable Companies Prioritize?
Though each business is different, there are a few factors that differentiate a sustainable operation from a traditional operation. One great example of a truly sustainable business (on all fronts) is Thrive Market – a 100% carbon neutral company.
Especially in the consumer products goods area, sustainability in business often means choosing materials, shipping methods, and designs that minimize their carbon footprint.
This can be as simple as using less packaging materials and turning off more lights to something as complex as having a solar roof to completely reduce electricity usage.
More than reducing their use of new materials, many eco-entrepreneurs put a high priority on using replacing materials that are “bad” with biodegradable and natural alternatives. For example, rather than using recycled plastic for a shoe sole, Vevo Barefoot uses a biodegradable corn-based sole in their “Primus Bio.”
While using less is certainly the easiest way to have a smaller impact, most earth-conscious brands will reuse what they do use as well. For example, food brands might compost food that’s going bad or give unused goods to a shelter. This keeps everything out of landfills and provides a “second life” in the form of either soil or food for someone in need.
As you might expect, the last thing that all sustainable businesses will look at implementing into their SOPs is recycling. Much like reusing food scraps in the form of compost, the end goal here is to keep something from ending up in the landfill.
One company that does a great job of this is Lush Cosmetics. On their website, they say, “Recycled and recyclable are two of our favorite words. Our in-store bags are made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper and are recyclable, reusable, or compostable, and our catalog is printed on 100% recycled paper too.”
In addition, they love to get customers involved by letting them return “pots” after all the product has been used up. To encourage customers to participate, they say, “When you return five clean, empty pots to a shop, you’ll even get a free fresh face mask!.”
Choosing Sustainable Vendors
As a bonus, there is one other thing some eco-startups look at. Vendors. After all, if you do everything you can to stay “green” but also buy from a company famous for polluting, then can you say you’re really green?
For example, the hosting provider (the person/company who keeps our website running) for Helianthus Advising is Green Geeks. As a hosting company, they are part of one of the highest carbon usage industries.
However, Green Geeks “fixes this” by designing a platform that’s as energy efficient as possible and also matches the amperage they pull by three times in the form of renewable energy. That means not only does Helianthus Advising work to help the world, so do the people we pay to help us.
How Are Sustainable Companies Different?
Aside from the obvious “better for the world” statement, eco-companies often have different SOPs and costs when compared to their traditional counterparts. As someone who works in management consulting I, (Ashley Madden, the founder of Helianthus Advising) have seen this first hand.
- Material/Product Price: Though not always the case (like in our case), being sustainable means costing more. This can mainly be attributed to the higher cost of sustainable materials.
- Marketing: Since eco-operations change almost every facet of normal business, it would make sense that marketing would change as well. From emphasizing how they help the world to choosing advertising methods that do less harm, marketing is made sustainable too.
- Management: When running a sustainable business, you have to think about how your employees contribute to your business’s pollution and how they contribute to your bottom line. As such, SOPs begin to change to incorporate recycling and the reduction of plastic or paper waste.
How Helianthus Advising Helps:
As a consulting agency, we at Helianthus Advising see ourselves as one of the top management consulting firms specializes in helping sustainable businesses streamline their processes and operations. In simpler terms? We can help you make your business lean – while keeping the Earth the number one priority.
We offer a five-session business consulting package that enables you to learn about and implement the best programs, tools, and SOPs possible. Now you will save more time and money and possibly further improve your impact on the planet.