How to Build a Sustainable Start-Up
This opinion piece aims to set out the business benefits of building a sustainable start up, what you can do to start your net zero journey, and some insight into our sustainability journey at Climax Community.
Sustainability is now an imperative – for businesses and for the planet – and it’s important to know that anyone and everyone can improve their operations and become a more sustainable business. Whether you are a sole trader working from your kitchen at home or a growing start up with multiple offices across different national borders, all businesses have an emissions footprint and need to be thinking about it. We appreciate that this can be a daunting task, but knowing your emissions is critical in helping understand where you stand as an organisation in the current climate crisis.
As we are talking about start-ups here, there is a unique opportunity to embed sustainability into business operations from the get-go. If you are a start-up in innovation and asking for funding: VCs, grant providers, and funds may ask for your environmental impact. Having an authentic sustainability ethos doesn’t only help with funding opportunities but can also lead to partnerships with a growing number of climate-conscious government agencies and organisations, and increased employee and customer satisfaction. It’s better to start early and demonstrate proactively and transparently what you are doing to improve your carbon footprint.
Have the right KPIs.
Start-ups are designed to grow and going from 3 people to 10 people means your emissions are likely to go up. So use KPIs which are proportionate to your operations to track success each year.
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
Ensure that the data you collect is consistent, relevant, and regularly updated, but don’t let the information intimidate you. Getting caught in the minute details can slow down your process and make measuring your emissions off-putting.
Measure, track, reduce – and then do it all over again!
Reducing your emissions is a continuous process. Calculating your carbon footprint is great to start your journey and tell you where you are right now, but it is only the beginning. You then need to build a strategy and start to understand what are your easy wins as a company. What change can you make now to meet interim targets (e.g. reduce emissions by 30% by 2025?) What might need more time and investment (e.g. setting a goal-year for becoming net zero)?
It’s about the culture as much as it is about the data.
An effective strategy requires a company-scale review which includes an analysis of operations, employees, supply chains, vendors, and all other emissions producing processes. Integrate sustainable practices into company culture, behaviours, and relationships by keeping all stakeholders informed and making the processes collaborative and educational.
Our Journey at Climax Community
At Climax Community we’ve always been conscious of championing a sustainable business model as much as we can. With a small team (currently of 8) and a flexible work-from-home week, we have a pretty small footprint – our scope 1 and 2 is just 1kg c02e because we are powered almost exclusively by renewable energy. We have also come to understand the power of an engaged workforce. For us, it is important that we share expertise and knowledge across the team to make sure everyone is educated and confident enough with climate knowledge to contribute new ideas and improve our company practices.
We’ve also set ourselves some goals. As the team grows we will continue to measure our emissions using our carbon management platform, Climate Essentials, and find ways to improve on our scope 3 emissions. Our office is within a shared workspace, so we also want to engage with the other businesses in the building and expand our community in our immediate vicinity.
Small businesses often lack the time, money, and sustainability expertise to build an effective climate strategy. That’s why we developed Climate Essentials. Through this highly affordable platform, start-ups can measure, track, and reduce their carbon emissions in an easy and engaging way. With support, SMEs can contribute to a 50% reduction in UK carbon emissions by 2030, and we are there to support start-ups right from the beginning.