The Risk of Flooding to Local Firms in the UK

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According to research from Foresight’s Flood and Coastal Defence Project, flooding in the UK costs the country about £2.2 billion per year. Currently, about £800 million is spent on flood defences per annum, with damages from flooding averaging roughly £1.4 billion.

Businesses usually bear the brunt of flood damages, with the winter floods of 2015 and 2016 costing businesses a best estimate of £513 million. As weather becomes more extreme because of the climate crisis, there is no better time to prepare your business for potential damages, especially if your local company is along the coast or next to a river. In England, the Environment Agency estimates that around 2.4 million properties are at risk of river and coastal flooding.

Purchasing insurance to cover flood damages for your business is important. Costs incurred by flooding to local firms can be enormous, and have a devastating impact on business operations, with buildings, carpets, walls taking months to dry out properly from flood damage. Flooding has also been found to have a negative mental health impact on those that experience it. As the environment becomes more challenging, we would encourage our members and our local companies to prepare as best as they can to combat potential costs.

UK Declares Climate Emergency

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The UK’s parliament has just declared a climate and enviornmental emergency.

Following continuous pressure from activists, the British parliament has followed the lead from the Scottish and Welsh governments who have both declared climate emergencies earlier this week. This marks a historic moment as the UK becomes the first country on the world stage to declare a climate emergency. Once again the UK has proven that it can still lead a hopeful way forward for the world. There’s no time like the present to join the UK and the climate conscious agenda by signing up your business to making sustainable commitments.

Sustainability has become a mainstream demand for our customers, and local businesses can lead the way forward in our society by empowering our customers to make sustainable choices.

The UK Running Dry – What your Business Can Do To Combat the Coming Water Crisis

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speech by the UK’s Environment Agency’s Sir James Bevan highlights the necessity of taking action now to prevent a water crisis. Backed up by research and collected into a phrase that he describes as “the jaws of death,” the UK is currently on track for water shortages in the next couple of decades. Water companies are increasingly investing more and more to build resilience against water shortages, these shortages are intensified by population pressures and the climate crisis. Before the year 2050 on our current trajectory, the UK’s supply of water will not be able to meet demand. The water all of our families, businesses and communities are reliant upon will be in shorter supply. Whether it’s taking showers, flushing the porcelain throne, or utilising water in our businesses’ production methods, our reliance on water needs to be better understood so we can safely maintain its importance and its supply.

With the climate crisis intensifying, our summers are getting drier, and all of us in the United Kingdom have probably felt the increase in hotter summer weather. The Enviornmental Agency estimates that before 2050, the amount of water available will be 10-15% less than it is today. The risk of drought will be higher, and some of our rivers are expected to lose between 50%-80% of water during the summer months.

Those figures may look pretty scary, but we are not there yet, and there are solutions, if we act now.

For our enterprises, listed below are small strategies to move forward while thinking ahead of the emerging water crisis.

Source products from suppliers who make an effort to produce sustainably, in line with national legal frameworks. Suppliers who are conscious of the environmental impacts of their products and production techniques should be considered as alternatives to those who operate at a minimum standard. They are likely to already be conscious of the amount of water used in their operations, but it’s always beneficial to double check and to cross over ideas together to find sustainable solutions.

Mainly for garden centres and nurseries – Use products such as coco coir disks, cisterns and drip irrigation systems to help manage and utilise effective water usage. Incorporate technology into irrigation systems such as a water timer or a smart sensor that can help monitor local weather conditions and soil moisture, producing less water waste. Minimise the use of sprinkler systems while looking to maximise the amount of water used that nature provides in the form of rain and runoff, and storing that water until required. Even other companies can work towards sustainability by catching rainwater and utilising that instead of a singular reliance on tap water, helping to also cut the costs of water bills for your business.

Together we can build the safe environment that all of our businesses are reliant upon, we can guard it, and we can maintain it. Small steps, but in tandem. Together.

 

Global Goal 12 – Switching to Sustainable Packaging – UK Tax

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In October 2018, the UK’s finance minister Philip Hammond announced a tax on plastic packaging which does not reach a minimum 30% threshold of recycled content. This tax will be introduced by April 2022. At just under three years away, small and medium sized enterprises should plan to introduce changes sooner rather than later. There is a great opportunity to move the introduction of these changes forward rather than when it becomes mandatory to do so, as businesses can display their sustainability commitments to their consumers before this becomes the norm.

Enterprises should be keen of trends like these to take advantage of leaping onto this agenda sooner rather than later, as it will be easier to differentiate the company’s corporate social responsibility from other companies. While this tax will be set to mainly affect suppliers and manufacturers rather than retailers, even retailers can jump on this trend. Retailers will still be burdened with any price hikes that result from a failure to switch to a more sustainable source of packaging.

Coffee shops too should be conscious of this and should evaluate the costs of switching to more environmentally friendly cups, lids and straws.

 

Be SMART When Setting Goals

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Many companies fall short of achieving their goals and targets. Use a SMART approach. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Whether you’re setting objectives professionally for a business or privately for personal development, setting SMART is a well-recognised strategy that you have probably heard of before.

SMART?

Specific – Identify the core aspects of a goal, put a figure on it, or what specifically is the goal designed to achieve?

Measurable – How are you going to measure progress towards this goal? Monitoring progress has the advantages of being able to see clearly how far away you are from reaching a goal, so that you can keep moving forward to it, rather than losing it on the horizon and deciding to abandon the goal altogether.

Achievable – Is this goal an achievable one? Are there enough present indicators that tell you that achieving this is a realistic outcome rather than just an idealistic fantasy.

Relevant – Is this goal relevant to your business strategy? Or is it an unnecessary goal that isn’t going to work within the companies’ strategy moving forward. A combination of a SWOT analysis and setting SMART goals is a great way to approach defined targets within the strategic framework set by a SWOT analysis.

Time-Bound – How long should this goal be given to be accomplished, and is it appropriate within that time -frame or just simply unrealistic? Does this goal fall within a larger time-bound strategy that is implemented to accelerate business growth and profitability?

SMART Goals offer an easy way of breaking down targets into tangible steps, and because they’re measurable you’ll be able to see the progress a long the way which is nothing but encouraging.

Whether it’s trying to reach 20,000 new unique visitors to your site, increase your market share, or introducing a new line of sustainable products, breaking down a goal into a SMART approach can help you stay focused and complete your enterprises’ objective.

SMEs in the UK see Slight Decline in Innovating

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Consistent evidence published by the Longitudinal Small Business Survey (LSBS) and backed up by the UK’s Innovative Survey 2017, presents a consistent trend of SMEs not spending on innovative technologies, products, or services. LSBS’s research shows a decline from 53% between 2012-2014 to 49% between 2014-2016 of ‘innovative active’ small and medium sized enterprises. Research over the same period shows a decline in new marketing methods (12% to 4%), computer software (27% to 19%), and launch advertising (8%-3%).

The Innovation Survey 2017 also noted that levels of innovation differed between small and medium sized enterprises and large firms who were more likely to innovate.

The levels of innovation also varies from region to region, with England and most significantly London having the highest percentages of innovation at 51% and Northern Ireland having the lowest level at 40%.

Innovation is such an important and often times overlooked prospect for small and medium sized enterprises. Through innovating, companies can find a way of offering more in the marketplace, providing a better way of meeting customer’s demands and ultimately increasing their profits. A UK survey by the Chartered Institute of Personal Development shows how important innovation and creativity are for employees, employees have been proven to be more productive when they can engage in creative thinking and are allowed space to implement their ideas.

By providing a space to innovate within a firm, the possibilities are as endless as the potential rewards. While larger firms may have the resources more readily available to innovate than small and medium sized enterprises, allowing employees the opportunity to get creative, as well as setting aside a figure in a budget to innovate can be a beneficial first step towards a growing enterprise.

SWOT Analysis

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SWOT Analysis was originally coined by a management consultant named Albert Humphrey at the Stanford Research Institute. He recognised that corporate planning had met with little success, and so developed the SWOT Analysis as a central framework for medium and long-term planning efforts. Its popularity has soared ever since its conception in the 1960s.

It can be difficult to integrate an effective business strategy into a company, especially when the day-to-day activities of a small or medium enterprise are taxing. Using the SWOT analysis framework, a business can easily spearhead a business strategy. Whether there’s a need for a more effective marketing strategy or a need to revaluate product lines, the SWOT analysis strategy is a well recognised framework to achieve results. A SWOT analysis is used to identify the positive and negative aspects of a businesses and find opportunities and threats outside of the company.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

StrengthsWhat is the business doing well? What products are selling? What is your brand recognised for? In essence, identifying your company strengths should help refocus efforts on what a company is good at.

WeaknessesWhat are the businesses’ weaknesses? Is our marketing strategy not paying off? Which product lines are we not making it off the shelves and out of the stock room? What assets does a company have or offer, that are not being taken advantage of? Identifying key weaknesses can assist decision making when it comes to scrapping the unsellable products, or a trying a different approach to push forward.

OpportunitiesWhat is happening now outside of the company that could be advantageous? What opportunities lay out their for the taking? What trends offer a chance for growth and increased market share? The Assembly of Solutions ltd is centrally focused on sustainability efforts because of consumers ongoing demand for environmentally friendly products and process, these trends offer businesses an opportunity for the taking if current trends are realised and capitalised on to fuel growth.

ThreatsWhat is happening outside of the company that could be disastrous? What government policies could cause a problem for a company? and how can the company minimise these problems? Are there other companies in the market that are making it saturated, and affecting business growth? How can a company get ahead of these threats and minimise their potential damage to a company?

All of these questions are the right kind of questions when using a SWOT analysis strategy to move your enterprise forward. Identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is the first step forward, the second is how you can minimise or maximise these weaknesses or strengths. The Assembly of Solutions will endeavour to keep you up to date with opportunities and threats in the member’s portal, but individually integrating this knowledge into your business model, new ideas, marketing strategies etc., is key to market growth and increased profitability.

 

 

Bringing Ecological Modernisation to Attention – Sustainable Buildings

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Ecological modernisation, a term introduced by sociologists Joseph Huber and Martin Jänicke, puts stress on the importance of environmental policy. It argues that alongside the ambitions for individuals to act sustainably, comes the opportunities to stimulate both the economy and technological innovation
How does this relate to the development of sustainable buildings? Dr. Márton Herczeg and others conclude that ‘the promotion of sustainable buildings has not benefited from such prolonged policy action (across Europe).’ With an increasing population, where individuals need homes for themselves and their families. Offices where they can earn money to take care of these homes. Parking spaces for individuals to leave their modes of transport so that they can arrive at work in order to keep this cycle going. It’s evident the world needs a solution to sustainable buildings.

Although this is just one of the environmental issues we currently face as a society, it’s clear to see how much SME’s can help towards the ‘Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure’ Global Goal. An example is seen with One Planet Products, who back in 2008, saw that the need to adopt sustainable construction methods/ products was ‘too time consuming, complicated and expensive.’ But by being persistent and shifting the focus of the programme being undertaken, they focused on creating solutions: making sustainable products and providing knowledge around methods available at a competitive price.

SME’s have enormous opportunities to not only improve the world by developing sustainable practices. But by creating efficiencies in the use of green methods/ products, there’s a huge possibility to be saving money, and of course, earning money through the creation of brand equity and competitive value.

Sustainability: An Endless Opportunity For Small & Medium Enterprises

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Sustainability –  “A term we use to describe programmes, products and practices developed around enviornmental and social considerations” – Sheila Bonini, and Steven Swartz

Businesses everywhere are realising the potential of integrating sustainable approaches into their current business model. Leading market research brings to light the numerous benefits of sustainable strategies. Neilson’s Sustainability report in 2015, found that up to “66% of global responders were willing to pay more for sustainable brands, outperforming those brands that made no commitment to sustainability.”

Brand trust was identified in the report as the leading factor that influenced purchasing according to 62% of those surveyed. A sustainable brand is a better brand, and globally those brands that have made active commitments to sustainability have seen sales grow roughly by 4%, whereas those brands that didn’t make any such commitment grew by less than 1%.

Now more than ever, the opportunity for businesses to lead the way in our societies is through active commitments and strategies to sustainability. Providing sustainable leadership and empowering customers to make affordable life-style choices are essential for any company that wishes to see itself as a leader in society. Finding approaches to change a business model into a model that is conscious of social environmental needs has never been easier in an interconnected world where the best ideas are plentiful and easy to share.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or the Global Goals offer businesses the chance to demonstrate their commitments to serving their customers through small adaptations and strategies. In a nutshell, the Global Goals are 17 goals that pave the way for a sustainable and prosperous future, joining the Global Goals Agenda has the benefits of adding value to society,  the environment, and a business’s brand image.