How green is my business?

Many businesses resist going ‘green’ because of perceived additional costs, but is this actually correct? What if going green contributed to greater profits?

WinfarmThere are many ways that going green can improve your profits. The most obvious is by reducing your utilities bills. Use less water or power and pay less. It really is that simple.

You can reduce your water bill by not using the hose as a broom when cleaning the path or driveway, and by turning taps off when you don’t need them on – for example when you are actually brushing your teeth.

You can reduce your power bill be being just a little organised – and ensuring staff turn equipment off overnight. If you want to be more organised then install switchboards that allow many devices to be turned off by a single power switch. You can use the type that has power surge protection as well, and protect your equipment from surges at the same time.

If your business has more than a dozen light bulbs then it is likely that you will achieve worthwhile savings by changing to low energy versions. You can also make better use of natural light by opening curtains and installing skylights. Modern low energy bulbs use about half of the energy old fashioned bulbs use, so the savings from this simple measure can mount up very quickly.

ParkingBikeHow green is your vehicle fleet? That’s everything from the CEO’s car to the delivery trucks. When it is time to replace vehicles consider the carbon footprint over the life of the vehicle – and imagine even a 5% or 10% saving on your fuel bill. Smaller motors, alternate fuels, and hybrid vehicles all contribute to lower transport costs.

Consider how much paper your business uses. Is every page really necessary? Did every page really need to be printed? Could you have used a digital copy instead? Reducing the paper usage has obvious benefits, and so does buying paper that has already been recycled. Even if all you do is change to recycled paper you will be assisting the environment, and today the price difference between recycled paper and non-recycled is reducing (at least it is where I live).

Many businesspeople need to fly to other cities from time to time – I will be flying nearly the whole continent next week for example. What can you do to reduce the carbon footprint of that flight? I help plant trees to at least partially offset mine. What do you do?

Now that your business is green, what about your Suppliers? Are there greener alternatives for about the same price or less? Is there a business that would prefer your products if they knew you were a green organisation? Are you in a position to inspire other businesses you deal with to become greener? How might you leverage your new green status for greater benefit?

In fact if saving on your power bill sounds like a good idea to you then hire a professional to do an Energy Audit. This will identify all possible savings and help you develop a plan to implement low-power alternatives and save money.

Before we continue – if your sales increase by $1 your profit increases, but by less than a dollar – depending upon your Cost Of Goods Sold and other factors. If your power bill goes down by $1 what happens to your profit? It goes up by the whole $1, assuming everything else stays the same.

Your business can also become a stronger shade of green by establishing a recycling programme. Recycling can mean refilling fax and printer cartridges, collecting paper, plastics and metals suitable for recycling, and even having devices to recycle that old food from the refrigerator – and don’t worry, you can ‘recycle’ food waste without the smell these days.

This isn’t supposed to be a complete list of what you can do to be a greener organisation – what are your best ideas? Or why do you not bother, if that’s the case? We’re an equal opportunity comments blog site, so tell us your story regardless of your position.

Successful Online Businesses

Is Online the New MLM?

It seems that online business is taking over from MLM business as something that everybody wants to do, believing that this is the way to riches. That may well be right, and yet there are secrets that nobody tells you about.

imageWhat is the difference between running a successful online business versus a successful MLM or regular bricks and mortar business? Not as much as you might first imagine. Let’s find out.

What Criteria Determines That?

First, we will establish the criteria that we will measure against. That would have to be something that is generally applicable, not subject to variation over time, and simple to use. In fact, you probably use these measures yourself already.

The first criteria is “Why” you are in business in the first place. That can be anything from wanting to earn a little extra to buy some new curtains or carpet, pay for a holiday abroad, or to make a million or more.

The next criteria is “What” business, meaning what industry, what is your target market, what problem are you solving? Mechanics fix vehicles, doctors fix people, restaurants fix hunger and your business solves somebody’s problem too.

Then we move to “Who” is helping you out? That is obviously your business partner, if you have one, and also the people supplying you, the logistics provider you use to deliver, the utility company and everyone else that you need to actually be in business.

When” is the next criteria, meaning all things related to time. When are you open, how long to deliver and all the other date/time questions people ask.

Where” is also important for a business. Where will the premises be located, either a street address or a URL. Where is your target market? Geography plays a big part in any business.

Finally we come to “How” will you do things? How do you order, process, sell and deliver to your customer?

Regardless of what business you are in, or you are thinking of starting, these criteria, answered in that sequence, will help you be one of the small percentage of new businesses that survive. Here’s a perspective on why businesses fail from Critical Care for Business. http://www.criticalc4c.com/step1_busfail.html

Different Types of Business

imageNow let’s review the different types of businesses, and see where the differences are.

Your motivation for being in business is likely to be the same regardless of what type of business. You will operate online, as a Home based business or a regular bricks and mortar for the same reason. To make money, to achieve a certain lifestyle, to be free or any number of perfectly valid reasons.

Why you want to be self employed comes from inside you, it is the driving force that makes you want to conquer the business world. It remains constant over all of the business types.image

What industry you select is most likely based on your background, training, experience and interests. Once again, that remains constant across all business types. Now some of you may be thinking that lions cannot be tamed online, to do that you must be there, in the cage with them. And you’re right, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use online or other techniques in your business. We’re a little ahead of ourselves, because we find out more about this in the section on how.

The main point to remember regarding what business to get into is that this too comes from inside you and your contacts.

Who Do You Turn To?

Who will help you in this venture? That would be the people that you already know, those you will reach out to, and those provided by the parent company if you join some sort of franchise. Mostly, the people who will help you are people you already know, and you need to know your customer before they will buy from you.

One person you need to find (if you don’t already have at least one) is to get a good coach. Someone who knows the pitfalls, and how to avoid them. The Carnegie Community put it this way http://blog.dalecarnegie.com/tipsforsuccess/why-is-training-important-to-a-business/

imageSo the answer is mostly “Your current network” and of course that remains the same regardless of which type of business you enter.

We won’t discuss when for long, because that depends upon the individual more than anything else. Some of us plan and make sure we do it right the first time, others jump in and fix it as we go. What I will say is that the timing of things is in a sense controlled by the type of business you start.

Bricks and mortar businesses need to wait for the physical item to be in the premises before they can sell it, or at least a demonstration version to sell orders from. MLM businesses usually have large warehouses full of product, so orders can be received and delivered very quickly, and online businesses can sometimes operate at literally the speed of light.

So there are some differences in timing, but they are controlled by the type of business rather than controlling the business type. The exception to this is that maybe you decide how fast you want to be able to respond and this criteria drives your choice of business type.

imageWhere your business operates and where your customers are is also dependent on the business type, although your interaction with them will follow the same general pattern. For example regardless of where, you still need to know what problem they have and be able to tell them that you can solve it. You may place that message at a physical place or at a specific URL, but the principles remain the same. You have to get your message to where your potential customers can see it.

Some more differences creeping in, although the basic intent is the same.

The ‘How’.

This is the one you have been waiting for! How you do things will vary enormously depending upon which type of business you are in. You may even use techniques from every business type – you may have a physical location, operate a franchise, MLM or affiliate program, and deliver at least some of your message if not product online.

The real point of all this is: the basics of being in business haven’t changed for 2,000 or more years. We have different industries, different ways to communicate, and a more educated customer but we still need to deliver according to their requirements!

Let me put it this way – you probably like to shop from people you know, like, and trust. So do your customers. This is the core of any successful business, and the rest is just details!

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Do you have a situation that does not fit? Leave a comment and find out what others think. Here are some more thoughts to help you decide http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5627.html