In a capitalist economy, finding the balance of an environmentally sustainable business model might seem like a daunting task. Small business owners in particular may discover that it's difficult for their companies to survive if they focus a large portion of their energy, time and resources on environmental initiatives as opposed to making a profit.

Despite this challenge, small businesses can make incremental, realistic efforts to protect the environment while still ensuring that their company thrives financially. Finding the balance of a sustainable business model that suits a green-minded owner may not be as hard as it sounds.

Patagonia: A Learning Model

There are many companies out there that are making positive contributions to help protect the environment and conserve natural resources. Patagonia — a brand that sells outdoor clothing and gear — serves as a great example of a company that has found the balance of a sustainable business model. According to The New Yorker, Patagonia has established an esteemed record of environmental philanthropy while, at the same time, achieving double-digit annual growth.

In an effort to help the environment, the distinguished company promotes anti-consumerism and discourages its customers from buying products that they don't need. Furthermore, through its Worn Wear program, Patagonia focuses on producing and maintaining quality products that last longer. This, in turn, saves resources, as customers don't need to purchase the same products over and over again.

Takeaways That You Can Apply to Your Business

As a small business owner, you can "go green" by making small, incremental changes to your operations. Perhaps you can start by making an effort to recycle or repurpose materials, offering direct deposit to your employees (as opposed to paper checks), using energy-efficient light bulbs or technology, switch to a green energy supplier, or buy second-hand equipment. These practical, feasible steps can benefit the environment and help you save money down the line.

It's important to keep in mind that, as the demand for your company's products and services increases, the amount of resources used in production will also increase. Businesses that adopt a sustainable business model early on need to think of additional steps they can take as their company continues to grow and its impact on the environment increases. It's all about finding the right balance and determining what will work for your business at a particular point in time.

Every small step your business takes to decrease its environmental footprint has a valuable impact. By taking a close look at your company, you can discover ways to create the balance of a sustainable business model, which can benefit everyone while, at the same time, increasing your brand's reputation.

Tags: Brand reputation management operations