When it comes to environmental management, big businesses and small businesses appear to have very different requirements. But the simple truth is this: The core activities that make up both environmental department’s are similar, but they function on a different scale. We’ve already talked about the air emissions management lessons small businesses can learn from big business. So, what can big business learn from the "little guy"?
Here are three shockingly simple tactics that small businesses get right, where their larger counterparts fall short:
1) Paying Penalties Is Not Part Of The Plan
Small businesses truly know that a penny saved is a penny earned. That’s why you’ll never find a successful small business that just assumes it will be paying environmental fines. Instead, they invest in ways to avoid paying penalties, since they know it has a better long-term return.
Shockingly, some large businesses simply budget for huge loses every year because they undervalue environmental compliance.
Unfortunately, environmental fines are not something you can (or should) just patch over with money.
Paying fines is a tell-tale sign of inefficient, poorly managed processes, poor choice of materials, or even insufficient training.
Seeing fines as a built-in cost of being in business is overlooking the non-monetary downsides that can cause serious harm to your business, such as:
- Noncompliance undoes your best marketing efforts
- Other businesses with a green image will avoid you like the plague.
We’ve seen firsthand some really profitable companies refusing to buy from suppliers that have a record of noncompliance. Some are even requiring their vendors to go green or go home.
2) Less Can Be More
In the world of environmental data management, it can be tempting to assume that bigger is better. More spreadsheets, more EH&S managers, more reports... but the reality is the success of an EH&S department isn’t measured by how large it is, but by how effectively things get done.
That’s why small businesses are 100% as capable of getting ISO 14001 certified and can have a perfect compliance record just like some big players.
The key is to be better, not bigger.
Having fewer resources forces small business to think leaner and smarter. They know that one highly skilled EH&S specialist equipped with the right tools is a better choice than a huge EH&S department that is vulnerable to communication and redundancy issues.
Added bonus: A leaner EH&S team costs less too.
3) Manage Your Emissions Like Your Life Depends on It
For small businesses, being in environmental compliance can literally be a case of life or death.
This sink or swim attitude means that small businesses are less likely to get complacent about reporting deadlines or obeying permit conditions.
Too often, we see large businesses in really difficult compliance situations that just give up when faced with dozens of permits and reports.
Cross your fingers and hope the EPA doesn't notice or - worse - convince yourself you qualify for an exemption and plead ignorance to the regulatory reality.
Some even just stop trying to meet certain conditions and absorb the resulting fines, because the cost of the fines seem to be less burdensome than staying compliant.
This is a losing strategy.
Ignoring compliance requirements can send you spiraling downwards into a situation that just compounds your penalties when you eventually get audited.
It’s no surprise then, that one of the best things a big business can emulate from small businesses is their attitude about compliance.
Big business needs to tap into the same concerns that motivate the little guys.
Learn the secrets of how data automation can improve your environmental performance and eliminate redundant work.
Image credit: kennethgray