Green Entrepreneurship: Choosing and Implementing Sustainability Initiatives

Self Made: NASE's Blog

Blog With Us

Welcome to the Self Made. This is a blog focused primarily on the self-employed and micro-business and full of fantastic posts by not only our team of experts but by YOU!  We realize that there are many ways to help the small businesses out there which is why we invite other business minded individuals to post here and help the rest of the community as well.

Green Entrepreneurship: Choosing and Implementing Sustainability Initiatives

Jan 30, 2024

Many self-employed business owners recognize the importance of incorporating environmental practices within their companies. Being a “green” entrepreneur is a way to embody the ethics that consumers are clamoring for and positively influence current brand trends. It’s also a great way to cut down on your carbon footprint as a whole and save in the process. 

Choosing the Right Sustainability Initiatives

With younger generations like Gen Z placing great value on sustainability, small business owners are figuring out how to make their ideas, products, or services more sustainable. Moving toward sustainability puts your brand in line to gain and retain more customers while saving your company money and doing environmental good. 

Take the following steps to choose the best sustainability initiatives for your business:

1. Conduct a Sustainability Assessment

Begin by evaluating your business operations and identifying areas with excessive environmental impacts, such as supply chain practices, energy consumption, and waste generation. Use this assessment to prioritize sustainability initiatives for your company.

2. Research Industry Best Practices

Stay abreast of industry-specific sustainability best practices. Research what other businesses in your sector are doing to reduce their carbon footprint. These companies can offer inspiration and valuable insights for implementing similar initiatives in your business.

3. Engage Your Stakeholders

Include all key stakeholders in your company — from employees to suppliers to customers — in the sustainability decision-making process. Consider their viewpoints as they may identify other possibilities and spot potential problems. Additionally, giving your stakeholders a say in sustainability makes them more likely to be on board with the changes happening in your business.

4. Start Small and Scale Up

Start with small, manageable, achievable initiatives rather than completely overhauling your company’s business practices. Easing into the process allows for a smoother and more successful transition. It also enables an accurate measurement of the initial impacts of the new sustainable processes you’ve enacted in your business before you scale up those practices.

Identifying Sustainable Opportunities 

A good sustainability goal can be measured, and ample opportunities exist to identify sustainable, actionable opportunities for your business. For example, many companies aim to purchase carbon offset credits to cancel out the waste that they may generate through other processes. Unfortunately, those credits are not always accurate as they often don’t have tangible measurements. 

Here are some alternatives to carbon offset credits that you should consider for your business sustainability plan:

  • Work toward supply chain sustainability, including sourcing water and energy responsibly, finding places to cut back on emissions, reusing and recycling, and switching to sustainable packaging with biodegradable and recycled materials;

  • Use sustainable finance strategies by adopting sustainable loans and green bonds, which show a commitment to corporate social responsibility and attract eco-friendly investors;

  • Conduct waste audits to determine areas of inventory waste, identify disposal problems, and locate inefficiencies in your current waste management policies. Then, assess energy needs and find your business's best renewable energy solution.

  • Implement green transportation in your company fleet using eco-friendly transportation options in your supply chain. Begin by assessing your current transportation practices for receiving goods and services from suppliers and delivering products to customers. Green transportation, such as hybrid or electric vehicles, contributes to cleaner air and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

These sustainable opportunities are excellent entry points for companies switching to a sustainable business plan. Start small and build up to becoming a fully sustainable company over time.

Developing an Implementation Plan

To develop an effective implementation plan, you want to establish clear goals and sustainability objectives for your business. Whether you reduce your company’s carbon emissions or minimize waste, having goals provides a roadmap for making your business greener. 

Set Realistic Timelines

Sustainability initiatives, like regenerative sourcing or sustainable procurement policies, often require sourcing products or infrastructure changes. Determine a reasonable, practical timeline for initiating each goal, considering the potential challenges and complexity associated with each goal. 

Write SMART Goals

Small businesses can succeed in sustainability initiatives by establishing clear benchmarks using the SMART goal method. This tool can help you avoid working toward a vague idea and instead produce a set of clear, achievable, sustainable goals.

Here are the five criteria that align with the SMART method of goal setting:

  • Specific: What sustainability goal do we want to accomplish? Why should we accomplish it?

  • Measurable: Use timelines or program management tools to record and assess your progress weekly, monthly, or quarterly; 

  • Achievable: Ensure that your team has a realistic goal that is achievable to prevent unrealistic expectations and disappointment;

  • Relevant: Why is this goal important to my team and the company? How will this goal help the company become more sustainable?

  • Time-Bound: Set goal completion deadlines to create accountability and measure your team’s success.

You can write SMART goals that are more structured and achievable using these five traits. Instead of dealing with frustratingly vague goals, using the SMART methodology lets you and your team create clearly defined goals and a system to measure your progress.

Measuring and Reporting Progress

Measuring a business’s sustainability performance involves examining three key areas, including social, environmental, and governance (ESG) factors. Start by measuring your company’s emissions using a carbon assessment tool or a carbon calculator with measurement software. Benchmark your workplace waste production and emissions and collect employee feedback to determine your company’s overall carbon footprint.

Measuring and reporting the progress in these critical areas is one of the best ways to assess your company’s sustainability performance.

Switch to a Business Sustainability Plan

Selecting and using sustainability initiatives is a process that requires thinking, assessing, and planning. Self-employed business owners can contribute to a more sustainable future while enjoying the perks of their enhanced business sustainability plans and determining clear objectives and evaluation processes. With the proper evaluations and team vision, your small business will be known as a company that cares about customer ethics and environmental good.

Meet The Author:


Luke Smith

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger.


Related Member Benefits

We thought these benefits may be of interest based on the content above.
Business: Business Learning Center

Full access to articles, in-depth guides and more

Expert Advice: Business Strategy

We call it Business 101, but our business strategists will personally answer your questions about how to succeed in business.

Expert Advice: Business Law

Answers to your estate planning, retirement, or general business law questions, delivered promptly from our own NASE legal professionals. Submit your questions online for a personal response.

The opinions expressed in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the National Association for the Self-Employed or its members.

Courtesy of