There is a lot coming at entrepreneurs lately. It seems like crises are everywhere. While (energy) prices are skyrocketing, SMEs are expected to become more sustainable. Read in this blog how you, as an entrepreneur, can kill two birds with one stone by investing in a sustainable future and how.
Financially hard times for entrepreneurs
SMEs are struggling, according to recent research. In the month of July, for instance, entrepreneurs experienced the lowest average growth in eighteen months. This trend has been going on for some time, with average growth of SMEs already declining since December 2021. Although these were small differences at first, the figures in the summer months leave many a business owner in financial dire straits. The decline in sales growth affects every sector, but SMEs in trade, accountancy and hospitality are particularly suffering, the report shows. With rising inflation and the oppressive energy crisis, perspective seems far away.
There is no shortage of crises these days. While – financially speaking – the entrepreneurial landscape is subject to increasing prices, the sea level is rising along at similar pace. A report last week showed that emissions of the three main greenhouse gases hit a record high in 2021. Researchers and politicians warn that we cannot continue at this rate. Measures are inevitable and that includes you and me. Brussels and The Hague are working overtime to impose appropriate legislation on everyone entering the market. The Dutch Climate minister Rob Jetten announces grotesque climate ambitions, so arm yourselves, because CSRD is just the beginning.
The resilience of SMEs
There is no doubt that we need to take the concerns of SMEs seriously. However, that does not mean we should underestimate the resilient nature of an entrepreneur. SMEs are proving again to be incredibly resistant and extremely creative. When the Corona crisis shocked the entire country, enterprises took the lead in rebuilding society. Name a problem and SMEs have the solution. That entrepreneurs don’t sit back and relax also shares top investor Pieter Schoen. He adds that “the weaker ones eventually fall down anyway and the stronger ones survive. That is simply a fact. And that is just as well, because it keeps you on your toes as an entrepreneur”. Besides, says Pieter, “if you manage to get traction with a new venture in a difficult period, that means you really are a good entrepreneur, and everything will only get better”.
What you can and (should) do now
By travelling by public transport, insulating business premises or turning the heating down a degree, many SMEs are already contributing to a more sustainable future. In the fight against sky-high energy prices, entrepreneurs are taking plenty of initiative. After all, from a financial point of view, becoming more sustainable is an increasingly logical option. Many companies are willing to make a move towards sustainability. The fact remains, however, that many SMEs do not know how to become more sustainable and what are the best steps for them in concrete terms. “What can be done” Johan Remkes referred to his nitrogen report. With this, he assumed what is already realistic, something that can be shrugged off. Sustainability is often seen as a topic that gets no attention. This is exactly where people, and especially SMEs, are very much underestimated.
The necessary steps
When SMEs have the right information and resources, they can move mountains when it comes to sustainability. Indeed, in sustainability there are great opportunities to make your business future-proof. To turn a crisis into an opportunity, the following steps are very important. The first and most important step is to gain insight into how sustainable, or unsustainable, your company currently is. For example, by calculating your CO2 emissions. Then, once this is clear, logical next steps can be taken for each focus area. By doing so, you can keep your company ahead of both regulations and competition.
It is our mission to support entrepreneurs in their efforts to become more sustainable. We offer knowledge and expertise to help you measure, report and communicate about sustainability. So, you are not alone in assessing opportunities and challenges in an already hectic time.
Want to know more about sustainable business in times of crisis? Subscribe now and read the latest news for SMEs on ESG and sustainability, and sustainable business.