If you are one of the 52% of small businesses that has made the decision to operate a home-based business (source) you no doubt appreciate the consequences of your choice – reduced commuting expenses, no hefty commercial property leases to pay, flexible work hours, and so on.
But operating a home-based business also means that you have a responsibility to ensure that your home office has a minimal impact on the environment and on your household’s bottom line!
Many small business owners however, especially those in charge of home-based businesses, have for many years been reticent about the benefits of “going green” – viewing the “green” movement as costly to implement and best left to bigger businesses and manufacturers whose perceived carbon footprint may be larger.
But with the advent of cost-efficient and readily available green technologies coupled with government incentives, more and more small business are embracing green purchasing decisions and the three R’s of the environment – reduce, reuse, recycle.
Environmental and cost savings aside, you might also want to consider the branding brownie points you can earn from customers and prospects – if you market your “green” practices properly.
Ways to “Green” Your Home-Based Business
There are many ways for home-based businesses to “go green”. It might start with simple actions like recycling used paper and ink cartridges, and powering off electrical equipment when not in use. In fact, “going green” is limitless – for example, a home-based child daycare business might consider reducing its carbon footprint by using cold water wash cycles for laundry, buying furniture and toys from thrift stores and garage sales, and using reusable dishes at mealtimes.
Here are some additional ways to “green” your home-based business:
1. From Office Equipment to Paper and Furniture – Set up a “Green” Home Office
It doesn’t matter what you do, if you operate a home-based business you will need an office-space. Maintaining an environmentally-friendly home office is somewhere where you can also realize immediate cost-savings by preserving resources and using green technology options such as e-bills instead of letter mail, duplex printing, remanufactured toner cartridges, and energy-efficient equipment (for example, an Energy Star labeled computer uses 70% less energy than computers without this designation).
Get more tips in this handy cheat sheet from the Environmental Protection Agency – Setting up a Home Office: Making Environmental Choices.
2. Take Advantage of Government Energy Efficiency Incentives
While most home-based businesses will benefit from no-cost or low-cost green options to improve the energy efficiency of their place of work, others may consider larger improvements or choose to piggy back planned upgrades to home-based facilities with an energy-efficient goal in mind. In these cases, you may need capital – and there are a variety of sources that exist to such projects. Find out more about available grants, loans and small business assistance programs for financing energy efficiency projects from Business.gov here.
3. Let Customers Know How Green You Are
Whether you produce or manufacture a green product from home or you simply employ environmentally friendly practices in your home-based business you may want to introduce it as part of your marketing toolkit as well.
While touting the fact that you use energy efficient light bulbs may not earn you much credibility from customers, if you provide any kind of service within your home – whether it be a childcare or doggy daycare business to producing gift baskets or floral arrangements – you might consider enhancing your brand by adding messaging to your marketing materials that alludes to your green business practices.
For example, “We are working to reduce the environmental impact of our business by introducing energy efficient practices into our day-to-day operations…” or “All our products are created using recycled material“.
Whatever the message – be prepared to back up your claims, read this Green Marketing Guide from Business.gov to ensure your check off all the regulatory requirements pertaining to making any claims about how “green” your business is.
- Green Business Guides – Read more about Energy Efficiency for Home-Based Businesses and learn about Green Business Practices in these comprehensive resources for small businesses from Business.gov.
- Financing the ‘Greening’ of Your Small Businesses – A quick read about government programs that help small businesses stay competitive while going “green”.
- Green Commuting Options – From Teleworking Programs to Transit and Ride Share Tax Incentives – A breakdown of how you can help your employees take advantage of green commuting options, including teleworking, and how you both can reap the benefits of green commuting tax incentives.