Sustainable Small Businesses are More Likely to Predict Growth

Small businesses that were anticipating either significant or modest growth in the next three months were also the most likely to be prioritising sustainable initiatives.

According to Novuna Business Finance research, two in three small businesses (63%) are prioritising sustainability initiatives over the next 12-months – and for many, looking after the planet correlates with being positive about growth prospects.

The national poll of 1,027 small business owners revealed the most popular sustainability projects for the months ahead, including:

  • focusing on products or services that are both profitable and environmentally friendly (36%); 
  • investing in staff education and training on sustainability (30%);
  • cutting back on waste and packaging (27%).

Small businesses that were anticipating either significant or modest growth in the next three months were also the most likely to be prioritising sustainable initiatives. The results showed that 79% of growing businesses could point to initiatives they were doing compared with 53% of businesses scaling down or struggling to survive.

Sector variations

While the proportion of small businesses looking to become more sustainable in the next 12 months was similar across most sectors, the initiatives they were working on varied:

  • In the retail and hospitality & leisure sectors cutting down on waste and packaging was the top priority (47% and 38% respectively);
  • For agricultural small businesses, the top priority was a greater use of solar and renewable energy (44%);
  • For construction, around a third of business owners (35%) were investing in staff education and training, with a further 21% investing in staff well-being; 
  • With small business in the finance and accounting sector, the top priority was reviewing sustainability risk management policies (33%);
  • In the manufacturing sector, more than half of respondents (53%) were looking to improve the financial sustainability of the business.

The findings come as Novuna Business Finance launches its Sustainability Toolkit for businesses, including for its broker, manufacturers and dealer customers. The toolkit consists of advice, hints and tips on charity and volunteering, environmental grants, best practice on diversity, equity and inclusion, building sustainability into a business strategy, reporting and products to promote sustainable asset choices.

Joanna Morris, Head of Insight and Marketing at Novuna Business Financecommented: “It is becoming very clear that the climate message has been heard by the vast majority of small business leaders, and the fact that most of these enterprises are actively incorporating this into how they operate is really encouraging. Every journey starts with a first step, however small, but we should not underestimate the uphill journey that lies ahead in the task to reduce carbon emissions globally and meaningfully. The targets laid out by the Government of meeting net zero by 2050 will surely require everyone to come together and act, on that basis it is really inspiring to see that the UK small business community is already leading from the front.

“We know from our own research that education is one of the biggest barriers to doing more on sustainability and the challenge in 2022 is to enable more business leaders who want and need to do more, to feel empowered in doing so. Our Sustainability Toolkit, along with our various financing options, guides and resources, are all designed to do just that.”