Getting Started

The importance of sustainable thinking when launching a business

With consumers increasingly keen to make ethical purchases, it pays to think about sustainability from the outset

The importance of sustainable thinking when launching a business

With consumers increasingly keen to make ethical purchases, it pays to think about sustainability from the outset

The importance of sustainable thinking when launching a business

With consumers increasingly keen to make ethical purchases, it pays to think about sustainability from the outset

Entrepreneur Nikki Hawkes sits at a table with a collegue working. Image credit: Nikki Hawkes

Nikki Hawkes (above) co-founded Stratiphy, an investment app, during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

The Bristol-based start-up, which in 2021 raised £440,000 on the crowdfunding website Crowdcube, has a focus on sustainable investing and allows users to track the environmental impact of their investment decisions.

Nikki’s business not only helps customers invest in companies that make a positive impact, but it’s also set up as a sustainable business itself: she hopes that, in time, Stratiphy will qualify as a B Corporation, a certification given to companies that can prove they operate to strict ethical standards.

To ensure Stratiphy can achieve B Corp recognition – which requires a full assessment of a company’s structure, work processes and operations – Nikki says it was vital to introduce sustainable principles from the beginning. One way to ensure that happened was to build an advisory board of experienced campaigners, including an environmental, social and governance (ESG) expert.

“One thing that has really helped us is getting a strong panel of advisers on our board,” says Nikki. “It doesn’t cost you money because they’re not employees. They can be remunerated with equity.”

Good for the planet, good for your business

Sustainability isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s also good for business. While large companies – at least outwardly – have switched onto the importance of displaying their green credentials, many small companies have been slower to adapt.

This is understandable. When setting up a business, there are a million things to do, and proving your concept, finding your first sale or bringing in your first members of staff seem like a higher priority than focusing on sustainability.

Yet launching with environmental responsibility in mind can pay off sooner than you might expect, both in terms of aligning your business with the views of your customers and in terms of overall growth. Indeed, B Corps in the UK reported an average growth rate of 14% in 2018, some 28 times higher than the national average of 0.5%.1

Aligning with your customers

Increasingly, consumers are making purchasing decisions based on sustainability concerns such as avoiding single-use plastic or choosing products made using fair working practices in their supply chain.

Sustainability was a key consideration for consumers in 2021, with 32% highly engaged with adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, according to a survey of more than 2,000 UK adults by Deloitte.2 The research also showed that 28% of consumers have stopped buying certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns.

Although those figures might not seem that high, sustainability concerns increase markedly with the younger generations who are likely to turn into the customers that will ensure the future growth of your business.

According to Deloitte, Generation Z – those born roughly between 1997 and 2012 – are adopting more sustainable behaviours than any other groups: in 2021, 50% reduced how much they bought and 45% stopped purchasing certain brands because of ethical or sustainability concerns.

This is something Nikki understands, with Stratiphy set up to help its users make more sustainable decisions. “It’s not that everyone should be perfectly sustainable, but we need everyone to be imperfectly trying at least,” she says. “People now are definitely focusing on climate change and what’s good for the planet. But greenwashing is also bigger than ever, which can be difficult.”

Avoiding greenwashing

Greenwashing is when companies overstate or lie about the environmental impact of their products. It has become more commonplace in recent years as consumers become more concerned with sustainability when making purchasing decisions.

For small companies, it’s important to think about sustainability from the start – in both the way you run the business and the way you market your products.

Any claims about the positive environmental impact of your products must be backed up with evidence to support them. For example, a product cannot claim to be ‘ecofriendly’ if parts of it are damaging to the environment.

It’s becoming even more important to ensure sustainability claims can be substantiated, not only because customers are likely to choose another product if they discover yours has misled them, but also because your business could be fined for making false claims.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched the Green Claims Code, which focuses on six principles based on existing consumer law and aims to stop companies making misleading environmental claims. It applies to all businesses – big and small – and those found to contravene the code can face significant fines.

Seek advice

It’s important to take advice on launching your business with sustainability in mind. Speak to your St. James’s Place Partner for ideas on what steps you can take when beginning your business journey.

 

Nikki Hawkes (above) co-founded Stratiphy, an investment app, during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

The Bristol-based start-up, which in 2021 raised £440,000 on the crowdfunding website Crowdcube, has a focus on sustainable investing and allows users to track the environmental impact of their investment decisions.

Nikki’s business not only helps customers invest in companies that make a positive impact, but it’s also set up as a sustainable business itself: she hopes that, in time, Stratiphy will qualify as a B Corporation, a certification given to companies that can prove they operate to strict ethical standards.

To ensure Stratiphy can achieve B Corp recognition – which requires a full assessment of a company’s structure, work processes and operations – Nikki says it was vital to introduce sustainable principles from the beginning. One way to ensure that happened was to build an advisory board of experienced campaigners, including an environmental, social and governance (ESG) expert.

“One thing that has really helped us is getting a strong panel of advisers on our board,” says Nikki. “It doesn’t cost you money because they’re not employees. They can be remunerated with equity.”

Good for the planet, good for your business

Sustainability isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s also good for business. While large companies – at least outwardly – have switched onto the importance of displaying their green credentials, many small companies have been slower to adapt.

This is understandable. When setting up a business, there are a million things to do, and proving your concept, finding your first sale or bringing in your first members of staff seem like a higher priority than focusing on sustainability.

Yet launching with environmental responsibility in mind can pay off sooner than you might expect, both in terms of aligning your business with the views of your customers and in terms of overall growth. Indeed, B Corps in the UK reported an average growth rate of 14% in 2018, some 28 times higher than the national average of 0.5%.1

Aligning with your customers

Increasingly, consumers are making purchasing decisions based on sustainability concerns such as avoiding single-use plastic or choosing products made using fair working practices in their supply chain.

Sustainability was a key consideration for consumers in 2021, with 32% highly engaged with adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, according to a survey of more than 2,000 UK adults by Deloitte.2 The research also showed that 28% of consumers have stopped buying certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns.

Although those figures might not seem that high, sustainability concerns increase markedly with the younger generations who are likely to turn into the customers that will ensure the future growth of your business.

According to Deloitte, Generation Z – those born roughly between 1997 and 2012 – are adopting more sustainable behaviours than any other groups: in 2021, 50% reduced how much they bought and 45% stopped purchasing certain brands because of ethical or sustainability concerns.

This is something Nikki understands, with Stratiphy set up to help its users make more sustainable decisions. “It’s not that everyone should be perfectly sustainable, but we need everyone to be imperfectly trying at least,” she says. “People now are definitely focusing on climate change and what’s good for the planet. But greenwashing is also bigger than ever, which can be difficult.”

Avoiding greenwashing

Greenwashing is when companies overstate or lie about the environmental impact of their products. It has become more commonplace in recent years as consumers become more concerned with sustainability when making purchasing decisions.

For small companies, it’s important to think about sustainability from the start – in both the way you run the business and the way you market your products.

Any claims about the positive environmental impact of your products must be backed up with evidence to support them. For example, a product cannot claim to be ‘ecofriendly’ if parts of it are damaging to the environment.

It’s becoming even more important to ensure sustainability claims can be substantiated, not only because customers are likely to choose another product if they discover yours has misled them, but also because your business could be fined for making false claims.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched the Green Claims Code, which focuses on six principles based on existing consumer law and aims to stop companies making misleading environmental claims. It applies to all businesses – big and small – and those found to contravene the code can face significant fines.

Seek advice

It’s important to take advice on launching your business with sustainability in mind. Speak to your St. James’s Place Partner for ideas on what steps you can take when beginning your business journey.

 

Nikki Hawkes (above) co-founded Stratiphy, an investment app, during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

The Bristol-based start-up, which in 2021 raised £440,000 on the crowdfunding website Crowdcube, has a focus on sustainable investing and allows users to track the environmental impact of their investment decisions.

Nikki’s business not only helps customers invest in companies that make a positive impact, but it’s also set up as a sustainable business itself: she hopes that, in time, Stratiphy will qualify as a B Corporation, a certification given to companies that can prove they operate to strict ethical standards.

To ensure Stratiphy can achieve B Corp recognition – which requires a full assessment of a company’s structure, work processes and operations – Nikki says it was vital to introduce sustainable principles from the beginning. One way to ensure that happened was to build an advisory board of experienced campaigners, including an environmental, social and governance (ESG) expert.

“One thing that has really helped us is getting a strong panel of advisers on our board,” says Nikki. “It doesn’t cost you money because they’re not employees. They can be remunerated with equity.”

Good for the planet, good for your business

Sustainability isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s also good for business. While large companies – at least outwardly – have switched onto the importance of displaying their green credentials, many small companies have been slower to adapt.

This is understandable. When setting up a business, there are a million things to do, and proving your concept, finding your first sale or bringing in your first members of staff seem like a higher priority than focusing on sustainability.

Yet launching with environmental responsibility in mind can pay off sooner than you might expect, both in terms of aligning your business with the views of your customers and in terms of overall growth. Indeed, B Corps in the UK reported an average growth rate of 14% in 2018, some 28 times higher than the national average of 0.5%.1

Aligning with your customers

Increasingly, consumers are making purchasing decisions based on sustainability concerns such as avoiding single-use plastic or choosing products made using fair working practices in their supply chain.

Sustainability was a key consideration for consumers in 2021, with 32% highly engaged with adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, according to a survey of more than 2,000 UK adults by Deloitte.2 The research also showed that 28% of consumers have stopped buying certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns.

Although those figures might not seem that high, sustainability concerns increase markedly with the younger generations who are likely to turn into the customers that will ensure the future growth of your business.

According to Deloitte, Generation Z – those born roughly between 1997 and 2012 – are adopting more sustainable behaviours than any other groups: in 2021, 50% reduced how much they bought and 45% stopped purchasing certain brands because of ethical or sustainability concerns.

This is something Nikki understands, with Stratiphy set up to help its users make more sustainable decisions. “It’s not that everyone should be perfectly sustainable, but we need everyone to be imperfectly trying at least,” she says. “People now are definitely focusing on climate change and what’s good for the planet. But greenwashing is also bigger than ever, which can be difficult.”

Avoiding greenwashing

Greenwashing is when companies overstate or lie about the environmental impact of their products. It has become more commonplace in recent years as consumers become more concerned with sustainability when making purchasing decisions.

For small companies, it’s important to think about sustainability from the start – in both the way you run the business and the way you market your products.

Any claims about the positive environmental impact of your products must be backed up with evidence to support them. For example, a product cannot claim to be ‘ecofriendly’ if parts of it are damaging to the environment.

It’s becoming even more important to ensure sustainability claims can be substantiated, not only because customers are likely to choose another product if they discover yours has misled them, but also because your business could be fined for making false claims.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched the Green Claims Code, which focuses on six principles based on existing consumer law and aims to stop companies making misleading environmental claims. It applies to all businesses – big and small – and those found to contravene the code can face significant fines.

Seek advice

It’s important to take advice on launching your business with sustainability in mind. Speak to your St. James’s Place Partner for ideas on what steps you can take when beginning your business journey.

 

 


 

Sources:

1 ‘To B or Not to B’: Is Achieving B Corporation Status Valuable for Organisations in 2019?, PwC Industry Insights, March 2019

2 Shifting Sands: Are Consumers Still Embracing Sustainability?, Deloitte, accessed January 2022 (Based on a survey sample size of more than 2,000)

 

 


 

Sources:

1 ‘To B or Not to B’: Is Achieving B Corporation Status Valuable for Organisations in 2019?, PwC Industry Insights, March 2019

2 Shifting Sands: Are Consumers Still Embracing Sustainability?, Deloitte, accessed January 2022 (Based on a survey sample size of more than 2,000)

 

 


 

Sources:

1 ‘To B or Not to B’: Is Achieving B Corporation Status Valuable for Organisations in 2019?, PwC Industry Insights, March 2019

2 Shifting Sands: Are Consumers Still Embracing Sustainability?, Deloitte, accessed January 2022 (Based on a survey sample size of more than 2,000)