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How accountants can help small businesses be more sustainable

28th Jul 2022
Brought to you by
xero

Xero is an easy-to-use platform for businesses and advisors.

Save content
Have you found this content useful? Use the button above to save it to your profile.

xero-sustainability

If sustainability isn’t front of mind for many of your clients, it will be soon. Here’s how you can empower them to be more sustainable.

As small business advisors, you'll no doubt have experienced the growing number of challenges your clients are facing, from inflation, to late payments and the changing workforce

Attempting to survive and thrive in the current climate is both time consuming and deeply challenging for small business owners. It’s no surprise, then, that many of your clients may struggle to address an issue that impacts not only their own success, but the wellbeing of the planet as a whole. That’s right, we’re talking about sustainability and in particular, climate change.

Businesses of all sizes are grappling with how to respond to the impacts of the climate crisis. Many of your clients will be aware of the need to take action, not just because of increased disclosure and reporting requirements, but because operating sustainably has never been more important. 

It can be hard to know where to begin. In a 2021 Xero study, we found that 68% of small businesses want to improve their sustainability practices, but many don’t know where to start. This is where you, as their most trusted advisors, come in. 

Over the past few years your role has evolved – becoming an all-encompassing guru offering advice on everything from digital transformation to the evolving workforce. As more clients now tackle their own sustainability challenges, here’s how you can support them to make positive change in their businesses.

Helping clients save the world

There are a few practical steps you can take to help small business clients become more sustainable. 

First, is to carry out a sustainability audit. This is an all-round assessment of a client’s operations to identify opportunities to improve. Typically, this will be energy suppliers or consumables (for example, cups, printing or catering), but could open up doors for other areas of improvement. 

Second, is supply chain assessments, where you review a client’s top suppliers to see if there are less expensive and more sustainable options available. Not only are they useful in determining which suppliers are doing the most in the fight against climate change, but can also be used to help clients understand the risk factors for modern slavery.

Another burgeoning space that is similar in process to financial audits, is carbon measurement, management, offsetting, auditing and certification. This is where you can use business data to identify opportunities for more sustainable decisions and operations. There are a number of apps available that can help small businesses calculate their carbon footprint, including Spherics and Carbon Analytics

In addition, you can help clients understand and develop active transport policy support. 

By offering employee benefits like subsidised public transport, and providing end-of-trip facilities (like showers and towels), small business clients not only become more sustainable in their operations, but can also help increase employee engagement. After all, according to an IBM study, 69% of employees say they’re more likely to work for organisations they consider to be environmentally sustainable.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you can remind clients that any business can operate sustainably, so long as sustainability is the underlying principle in everything they do. 

By encouraging them to adopt this mindset, you have a great opportunity to make a difference in a new way by supporting your clients throughout their sustainability journey. 

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