Understand Your Business Case
As I’m working through the interviews for The Green Executive, it is becoming clear that companies who lead on sustainability have a really deep understanding of the business case as it applies to them. If you look at many Green Business Support Organisations’ literature, it tends to start and finish with the message “save energy, cut waste, save money”. This is true, but very short sighted.
Most service sector organisations will not save an appreciable amount of cash compared with their turnover or profit margin. The benefit for these companies is in branding and winning new business. Cash savings are a distraction to these companies as they are miniscule compared to business benefits. Manufacturing industries and other resource intensive businesses can save significant sums of money and contribute directly to increased profits. But if they see this as the sole driver, they too will miss out on the wider PR and marketing opportunities. A recent edition of The Low Carbon Agenda dealt with how this type of narrow minded thinking can adversely affect budgeting decisions and some ideas on how to overcome it.
The other aspect of understanding the business case relates to how far you can move from your core business and still bring your customer base with you. Marks & Spencer tried selling worm bins, but realised no-one comes to to M&S; for a wormery. They do sell recycled polyester umbrellas – as a green consumer that’s what I expect to find in their stores.
So, if you’re going to go down this road, take some time to really think through what the business case is for you – both internally and for your customers. It will be time well spent.