Sustainable business practices for tradesman

Posted on: 21 January 2014

2014 is tipped to be year of the sustainable SME. What does that mean for tradesmen?

What is sustainability?

In a nutshell, it’s about legacy. It’s about using resources responsibly and it now often comes hand in hand with commercial advantage. Because many customers will simply turn away if you’re not seen to operate as a sustainable business.

What are the advantages?

The most attractive aspect of a sustainable business is that it saves you money. Recycling tools and equipment lowers your operating costs, reducing waste can cut down on levies and saving energy cuts your utility bills.

It can also help you win contracts, because ‘green’ suppliers are obligatory for some organisations, and it can give you a competitive advantage if potential customers value your ethos.

Who’s bothered about sustainability?

Apparently one in four UK SMEs will prioritise sustainability in 2014, according to a survey by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking Group. Being seen as a business that doesn’t embrace green issues can damage your brand, so here are our tips for becoming a start-up sustainable tradesman:

  1. Travel: only use your vehicle when you have to, and only carry goods and equipment that is necessary for your trip
  2. Power and waste: turn things off when you’re not using them, including lights, tools, technology and engines, and reuse or recycle kit, packaging and any other waste produced by your business
  3. Go paperless: communicate, quote, invoice and pay electronically
  4. Products: chose eco-friendly products where possible, not just for your business but if you’re supplying goods for your customers too
  5. Encourage: inspire your team and those you do business with to follow your lead

And then?

Well, given that our list of tips isn’t exactly rocket science, once you’ve ticked them all off and maintained them for long enough to prove that you’re serious, you need to let your clients and your market know about your efforts. You can do this informally through mentions on your website or via social media, or you can get accreditation from the likes of the Carbon Trust and Motorvate and publicise them widely.

Becoming a sustainable tradesman doesn’t have to be complicated. It just requires a bit of re-thinking.

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