The Sustainable Business Model

A best practise approach to business survival.

Will you be carbon free by the end of 2020?

Setting a target many years down the road is just kicking the can. Action is required now, so if you can you should.

Powering your business

In the UK, we use a mix of electricity, natural gas, petrol and diesel to power our businesses and or personal lives. In addition, we may also use coal, wood, oil etc in places that are difficult to connect to the grid.

More recently, we have become increasing aware that the fossil fuels of gas, petrol and diesel are unsustainable and are negatively impacting our health and the health of the planet.

We as an organisation and in our person lives have made commitments to ourselves to remove carbon from our daily lives. It makes good business sense to reduce the amount of energy we need whilst maintaining a good and productive lifestyle.

However, in many peoples minds living a good lifestyle is not considered sustainable and has too large an impact on others around us. So how can we have our cake and eat it. The following page highlights what we have already done, what we are in the process of doing and future plans that we would like to achieve.

Working from home

If you are able to work from home you can instantly reduce your impact on the environment, simply by reducing the number of trips you make per year. This will save you a lot of money but you will use more energy at home. You can claim about 10% of the total cost of utilities, as an expense from your business tax bill.

We chose to get our energy from a supplier that only supplies electricity from renewable sources, wind, solar, hydro, biomass and tidal. You can choose your preferred source, we chose solar. We have a referral code that will get you 40 off your bill and 40 off of ours, So Energy if you choose to switch.

The big thing here, is that everything you do to make your home more sustainable, makes your business more sustainable too.

In our case the biggest cost for us was gas. We have gas central heating and a gas hob. The UK goverment announced some time ago, that all new houses would be built with no connection to gas in the future, as it was damaging the environment. So, it is very possible that gas could become a thing of the past in UK homes. If you are on benefits you can get a grant to switch from gas to electric. Our first aim is to replace our gas hob with an electric induction hob. As energy prices fluctuate it is hard to tell if in the long term this will be a saving or not.

Central heating is quite effective but can be expensive, gas is currently cheaper than electricity because it is subsidised. You have to be pragmatic here and look for ways to cut your costs in the longer term. Some quick wins are loft insulation, double glazing and sorting out drafts. If you make your home easier to heat you will be saving money which you could put towards replacing your boiler for electric.

In your own home, it is difficult to create your own energy except for solar panels. We are in a three story building and so the roof is relatively small for the volume of the house. However, we believe that solar panels give you a degree of protection from electricity price hikes in the future. If you can also use battery storage at home, you can protect yourself from power cuts too.

In summary, we switched to 100% renewable electricity, we will install solar panels, replace gas hob and boiler for all eletric house. By not having gas, we no longer need to have an annual service saving over 300 pounds a year. We also do not have the 20p a day standing charge for gas saving about 70 a year.

Travel

Most people in business will have to travel at some point. So, how do you make that travel sustainable.

Road

Our aim is to convert from a petrol car to an electric car. If we had a diesel but did not have the money to switch to electric, we would switch to petrol first, because of the health risks associated with diesel particulates.

Our first choice would be to go for a Tesla Model 3. We feel that at the time of writing this, it is a great car which you could hold onto for many years and that over time would pay for itself compared to paying for petrol, maintenance and repairs. It is also rated very highly on safety, so great for sustaining its occupants. However, we are more likely to buy a second hand Nissan Leaf. They do not have the range but they are less than half the price.

Getting an electric car, especially an import can be very expensive. You also need to have infrastructure at your house and learn some new skills. All of these things can slow down the take up of electric vehicle. However, it is the way things are going and we would expect all new cars to be electric in the future. There are more charging points than petrol stations.

How long is the payback

Assunimg average mileage of 10k per year and 30 miles per gallon at 1.30 a litre (not hard to work out at all) (10000/30) = 333 gallons. 333*4.5 = 1,500 litres. 1500*1.30 = 1,950 a year in petrol (162.50 a month).

If you get a second hand electirc car for 15k, spend a 1k on a charge point at home and 5,000 on solar panels. You would have a spend of 21,000. That would give a ten year payback time on petrol alone. At the moment, there is no road tax, that will change once everyone is driving electric. You will have reduced maintenance costs, no oil changes, regen braking means much less brake wear. Currently (2020) 0% BiK.

Air

We have all been on flights both for business and pleasure but we can all see that it is going to be difficult to replace aircraft fuel any time soon. So reducing the number of flights and replacing them with video calls would be one way to help. Travelling by train is expensive but is often already electrified.

Critical thinking

One of the best things you can learn and teach your children is critical thinking. Having the ability to research your best choice and cut through the jargon and spin to find solutions that genuinely make your life better.

Disclaimer

No information on this page should be considered advice. You should make your own choices based on your own research. We say this because often it turns out (when looking back) people have not always told the truth when selling a product. Then later it turns out that in fact the product was bad for you, the environment and not sustainable.

Sustainable Money

Any currency is fluid by nature. You try to hold onto it but it just slips through your fingers. Whilst you are building a more sustainable life, which lets face it cost a bit before you can see the potential savings, you may need a few ways to grow the money you have.

Savings, investments and so on are all vehicles you could use to make money from money. But how sustainable are your investments. In many cases the things that are not so good can make the most money. By limiting yourself to ethical investment you may make a smaller return but at least you could sleep better, knowing that you are not funding something you do not agree with.

A debt free life

It is very important to be debt free both in business and in our personal lives. Debts are bad for business and ruin relationships. If your business is in debt is reduces the amount you can pay yourself. If you are in personal debt it increases the amount you need to pay yourself. These two cases put a strain on you the business owner.

Becoming debt free could not be easier, just follow these three rules:

  • Stop borrowing money.
  • Build an emergency fund, so you do not need to borrow when things go wrong.
  • Pay off everything you currently owe.

We know how hard it is to pay things off and the comment above about it being easy is very tongue in cheek. However, each rule is a change in mindset, that you can do for free.

If you have a lot of debts, we would recommend the debt snowball. In this method you pay off the smallest debts first. So that you are getting quick wins and you are reducing the amount of juggling requires to manage multiple debts.

By stopping your borrowing habits you are forced to live within your means, which is a really good thing to do.