Small business owners are keenly focused on “green” — making money that is. However, more and more entrepreneurs are concentrating on a different type of green. They’re interested in creating an environmentally friendly company — or “going green” — and technology is helping them do just that.
You may have read my January blog post on the top ten trends for small businesses in 2014. Two of my predictions are strategies that are not only helping small businesses compete more effectively, but they are also helping them reduce their carbon footprint and save money.
For example, Cloud-based Business Solutions enhance the productivity and profitability of small businesses. They also allow entrepreneurs to create a nearly paperless work environment. Businesses generate 350 pounds of wastepaper per employee per year. And I’d safely say over 90 percent of all documents are created electronically these days. Think about it. Do you know anyone in your organization who hand-writes proposals, memos, or reports? Those days are gone.
The cloud for flexibility
So if documents are created electronically, why not keep them there? Cloud-based solutions give small businesses the flexibility to share documents and critical information without printing out copies. With the cloud, employees can access the information they need and collaborate with co-workers from anywhere at anytime. This makes telecommuting (another one of my top ten trends) more practical than ever.
Jeff Kear is the owner of a web-based event management company called Planning Pod. His company uses cloud-based solutions not only to reduce paper, but to travel as well. “[Cloud-based solutions] have made us basically paperless. No more need to print out documents, spreadsheets, or anything else. All information among employees is shared via the cloud and accessed on computers, tablets and handhelds,” he said. “Once we started sharing information online, we found that we did not need to physically meet very often. So we shut down our office location, saving a large expense for the company, but also saving lots of fuel costs and consumption for us and our employees. When we do meet, it is a centralized place to minimize travel,” Kear added.
The cloud for the home office
One of my favorite examples of how technology is helping small businesses go green comes from RE/MAX Realtor, Jan Green. Rather than working out of one of the company’s three locations in Scottsdale, Arizona, Green opted to work out of her home to save on fuel costs. And as paper-intensive as the real-estate business can be, Green has developed a few tricks.
First, she uses a PowerPoint listing presentation. “Power Point Slides illustrate the entire listing process for my sellers,” she says. “This can be printed upon request on paper made from 30 percent recycled content products.” She also uses paperless listings for her clients and instead of those printed brochures hanging on “for sale” signs, “A sign rider with a 24/7 hotline is hanging on every sign with the details of the home recorded. Buyers can also contact me from that site after the recording, which saves them time,” she added.
There are myriad ways in which technology can help you “go green” in your small business. In doing so, you’ll enjoy the additional benefits of saving money, increasing your productivity and your profits. Don’t be shy about telling your environmentally friendly story. Companies that are “greening” their businesses typically gain favor with concerned customers and clients. So include your efforts in your marketing strategies.
Has your business implemented any “greener” strategies? If so, have you noticed cost savings or productivity gains?
Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.