Sustainability vital to small-business success

New research from Australia Post shows almost half of the country’s small businesses consider sustainability to be very important in their future success.

The Small business sustainability in a COVID-19 world report, released in collaboration with the Banksia Foundation, examines what the key drivers and sustainability issues facing small businesses are at the moment. It is also part of a series of whitepapers by Australia Post to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) initiative.

The report focused on three key themes: operating responsibly, building resilience and regeneration in a world impacted by COVID-19. With the focus on sustainability, many small businesses are looking to invest more heavily in this area this year.

The report also provides a 10-step roadmap to help business owners prioritise sustainability and achieve their goals through methods such as committing to sustainable packaging, assessing their existing practices and adopting a principles based approach to doing business.

Australia Post Executive General Manager, Business, Government and International, Gary Starr said sustainability for businesses now extends beyond reputation and trust, and is critical to long-term survival, security and competitive advantage.

“There has never been a more important time for small businesses to be directing their focus towards sustainability and improving their overall resilience,” Starr said. “Research consistently finds that consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that are sustainable, and many are willing to pay more for products and services that protect the environment or don’t infringe on human rights, and this trend has only been accelerated by the pandemic.

Starr said the fact that many SMEs have to focus on the immediate concerns of running a business means that sustainability isn’t always top of mind, but that developing more sustainable products and operations is becoming increasingly important. He also pointed out that it’s now easier to get started than many businesses realise.

“Small businesses are the engine room of our economy and one of Australia Post’s largest customer groups,” Starr said. “We hope this research will be helpful to businesses embarking on a journey towards sustainability so they can take advantage of new opportunities and grow their business in a sustainable way.”

Banksia Foundation Chief Executive Officer Graz Van Egmond said unlike large businesses, resources are limited to assist small businesses to be more sustainable, and she hopes this report will guide them to have a positive impact by incorporating sustainability into the core of their business strategies.

“Now more than ever Australia needs small businesses, and we have a real opportunity to build a more sustainable and inclusive economy than the one we left behind prior to COVID-19. I hope this report stimulates thought and action in small businesses across Australia,” Van Egmond said.

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