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Investing in a sustainable business is not just for large companies

Having a sustainable business not only means being more environmentally friendly, but it is a result of reducing the consumption of your machinery or equipment. Lower consumption also means lower spending and there is no doubt that this is something all SMEs and small companies are looking for.

We live in a time marked by our environmental impact and a growing awareness that we need to be more sustainable. All social agents from citizens to governments and institutions, including companies, are called on to meet the enormous challenge of laying the foundations for a better world.

But not all of them have the same opportunities. For small and medium-sized companies, any investment, no matter how small, carries significant weight. Budgets tend to be tighter, margins smaller, and decisions are measured in pence. And when it comes to sustainability, this is usually no different.

The frequent absence of ad hoc departments for certain issues, such as efficiency, means that all actions are the responsibility of one or the same people, who may not master that area. For this reason, many SMEs believe that being more sustainable is out of reach, and that these are improvements that are reserved only for large companies that can afford them. And yet they may be the ones who need it most to take the first step to meet the challenge presented by the green transition.

Towards maximum cost efficiency

For low-volume businesses, energy consumption often represents a large portion of the budget. The replacement of machinery or technology, the use of disposable materials or the lack of planning in methods or workspaces are also important costs that are very common in SMEs, whose vision is sometimes highly focussed on the daily activity.

This means that adapting more efficient processes or equipment can make all the difference with regard to savings. Starting to implement energy efficiency will reduce the costs of bills and the simplest gestures may well be more profitable, even from the start. For example, by using low-consumption lighting in the office, optimising the time the light, heating and cooling systems are switched on, and using appliances with efficient energy ratings.

This margin of savings that is earned can also be invested in other business actions that need more budget, such as employee training, product development or advertising and marketing.

 

A more resilient business

In recent times we have seen that the energy market can become very volatile, and that prices can rise significantly in a matter of days. The solution to this can be energy efficiency because by using more sustainable tools, SMEs can neutralise the impact of prices and create a much more resilient strategy for action.

Sustainable businesses seek to reduce their environmental impact, while increasing their positive impact on the community they are a part of. Energy efficiency can play an essential role in this, because consumers are increasingly looking for products and services where the commitment behind them can be seen and that an effort is being made with regard to corporate social responsibility.

In the European Union, 99% of the business sector consists of small and medium-sized enterprises. They are also responsible for 70% of the employment generated in Spain, so they have a significant impact on society and they are therefore seen as beneficial.

 

Investing in a sustainable business

The European Union has made public the targets it wishes to reach during this decade through its agenda, and some of these involve the activities of SMEs.

Gerardo Cuerva, Chairman of the Spanish Confederation of Small and Medium Enterprises (CEPYME in Spanish), describes the 2030 Agenda as a "formidable challenge" for all those involved, but urges everyone not to forget that "at the same time, it generates new opportunities for companies, strengthening their competitiveness in a global economy and their commitment to an increasingly aware and demanding society".

In addition to the 2030 Agenda, state and local governments are being increasingly demanding with regard to consumption and energy efficiency, so by committing to a sustainable business you will always keep up to date with regulations, if not one step ahead.

This is why small businesses are not just a clear objective in the race to the future:   Their role is crucial in this commitment to the future. The sooner SMEs embrace the green transition, the sooner they will be able enjoy the environmental, social and economic benefits. The time to act is now.

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