Despite how it might seem, this is not another post about how you can create a more “green” business. Being green is a great business practice, and has the side benefit of helping your small business to make a positive difference in the world. When we think of recycling, it is no surprise that most people would immediately think of collecting newspapers and plastic bottles.

What if instead you considered recyclability as a principle that you could apply to many different aspects of your business? Here are just a few examples of how this could work:

  1. Integrate recyclability into your process – Think back to when you first learned to drive. Depending on when that was and where you grew up, a part of your experience might have been going to a driving school. Most driving schools have the same format – an instructor rides along with you in a car with a silly looking “student driver” sign on top of it. And where do you drive to? Usually from your house to the house of the next student and then back.  As a result, you get your driving lesson and the instructor gets to pick up his or her next student. That’s recyclability.
  2. Sell your products multiple times – The most common example of this is the traditional “day old bagels” bag at your local bakery which sells the remainder of yesterday’s product at a discount. A more pioneering example is recently launched a grape juice called First Blush, which is made from Chardonnay or Cabernet wine grapes that are picked early in their cycles when they are still sweet and before they are used for wines.
  3. Turn a special order into a “service.” Sometimes you have a client who pays for a special order which you can turn into a product to sell to other customers.  Restaurants are the best example of this, where often a customer may order a special cocktail – and the restaurant may try out putting it on the menu for some time to see if it works. The point is, sometimes going “off menu” can be the best way to generate new ideas for offerings that your business can sell which you aren’t selling today.
  4. Incentivize your customers to “resell” pieces of your business. Known in many marketing circles as the affiliate model of selling, this principle involves essentially incentivizing your customers to resell your business. Instead of just doing the obvious and offering a credit or discount if a customer refers your business … what if you take it one step further? Krispy Kreme is one brand that does this particularly well, by selling boxes with dozens of donuts at a discount to charity groups so they can take them and resell them as a fundraiser.  As a result, when you see kids raising money for their school or other groups, it is always Krispy Kreme that they are selling.

As each of these examples share, there are ways that you can make your business more recyclable just by paying more attention to the moments where you have an opportunity you could take advantage of.