Barriers to entry: Less time and resources to dedicate to change

This post is the fourth in a series of blogs addressing the barriers to entry for sustainability projects experienced by SMEs, the support that exists to implement and monitor projects and the benefits and returns typically seen when projects are completed.

Barrier to entry: Lack of time and resources to affect change

When selecting any project or priority, small businesses face constraints on the amount of staff time to dedicate to change. Whether it is creating positions solely to focus on specific projects, or finding time in busy schedules, the lack of commitment to implementing sustainability projects often stems from an inability to find the time needed to do research, assess project feasibility, develop internal know-how and implement the projects themselves.

To develop an understanding surrounding sustainability itself and understand what types of projects are relevant to an individual business, organizations can tap into informal networks of peers actively sharing ideas and best practices to learn what solutions have worked for similar businesses and how they selected projects that were relevant for them.

Finding the areas of greatest need is necessary before beginning a project to ensure any investment of time will generate a corresponding return. However, paying for impact assessments and consultants can make projects financially non-viable. Tracking a few key indicators or metrics is one way to ensure organizations gain insight into where resource consumption is the largest and where investments could be made to generate worthwhile returns.

An example of an indicator worth examining is your organization’s costs per kilowatt hour/cubic meter, or the amount of energy consumed per unit of product. This will give an indication as to how much energy is needed to be profitable, and whether a reduction in cost in any specific area would create a competitive advantage. Better understanding how your organization uses energy, and how much is consumed, will provide greater understanding about the potential for savings.

Dedicating time and resources to change can be an impediment to any investment for small businesses. Joining informal networks to discuss the value of investment in sustainability, as well as doing initial measurement to find the areas where the highest returns would be found, allows for small business staff and management to do research and understand where their efforts should be focused without committing large volumes of time or capital.

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