It’s a new year and it’s time to plan. For business owners, that means looking at practices that will make them as successful a new year as possible. In a world that is prioritizing sustainability and ethical business practices more than ever, these green business resolutions can help any venture become a go-to that employees are happy to work for, and shoppers are proud to patronize.
Be Prepared for the Worst
Risks run the gamut when running a business, from natural disasters to cyber-attacks and financial hardships to theft.
This is why it’s key to have a business continuity plan (BCP), a system of preventative and recovery tactics in case of any emergency or setback.
To best prepare your business, check out these six steps so your business has the means to maintain operations and withstand hardship, including a rainy-day fund, insurance, and more.
Let’s be rid of greenwashing once and for all. It is no secret anymore that companies participate in this deceptive tactic, boasting claims of hard-to-verify or outright false sustainability practices.
Now, however, the consequences are becoming more and more common.
Last year, several global airlines faced criticism and bans of their advertisements from British watchdog Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Other businesses, from fashion brands to skin care lines, are getting called out on social media for exaggerating or lying about their sustainability practices. And when shoppers are willing to pay extra for ethically sourced and produced products, the consequence of losing customers is a dire reality for many businesses.
Apply for Certifications
Certifications touting a business’ ethical, sustainable, or diversity commitments
, —including how a business practically achieves these commitments , —empowers consumers to identify and intentionally shop where they can help make a difference.
There are several certifications business owners can apply for, depending on the nature of their business and what they want a certification to convey to consumers.
For food businesses, obtaining Non-GMO or USDA Organic certifications is key, while skincare or body product brands can look at cruelty-free or vegan certifications like Leaping Bunny.
The Green Business Network’s “environmentally ethical and socially responsible” certification is another option, showcasing three areas: environmental responsibility, social equity, and accountability.
According to a 2022 survey from Clutch, an independent B2B review platform, most diverse-owned small businesses don’t have any sort of certification communicating their identities or ethical values.
Certifications “provide models that can not only create global system change but also allow each of us to ‘vote with our dollars’ and to be a part of the system change that these times demand,” says Michelina A. Roth & David M. Roth, CPFA, BFA, co-founders of Green Business Network member Fair Planet Advisors.
Take Advantage of the IRA
When Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in August 2022, it promised big goals, including reducing the United States’ share of global greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 40%, or 1 gigaton, by 2030.
One of the ways the bill aims to achieve this is through various new incentives making resources and products like clean energy and energy efficient vehicles more accessible.
Some of the incentives include tax credits, rebates on energy efficient appliances and vehicles, better healthcare for small business owners and employees, and more.
To find out more about what benefits your business can claim, see The Inflation Reduction Act: Guide to Small Business Resources.
Prioritize Your Employees
There’s no way to have a sustainable planet if it’s not also a just and equal planet—for every person and living thing.
This year, survey your workplace to see how you can better the lives of your employees, from more flexible schedules, generous benefits, DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) programs, and more.
Some practices to consider this year if you haven’t already, include open hiring and considering potential employees from a wider pool, like those experiencing homelessness or have experienced incarceration; an equitable 401(k) plan; DEI training; becoming a more inclusive business for employees and customers alike; and more flexibility, including work from home options or benefits for choosing a more sustainable commute.
The new year has only just begun—what will you and your business do to make it a just and good one?