Small business owners know that assessing their financial situation is critical to running a successful and sustainable business. Increasingly, this philosophy is being extended beyond financial accounting, and businesses both large and small are finding ways to account for other things – beyond money – that matter to their performance. But what if your small business doesn’t have the time, money or human resources to do an exhaustive footprint assessment?
Enter Intuit, the maker of Quickbooks, which has just released software that makes this process a snap. Their new (and free!) Green Snapshot add-in evaluates your existing Quickbooks files, and uses them to calculate your business’ carbon footprint. Not only that, but it automatically generates an analysis that shows you where your largest impact is and what you can do to reduce it. Sure, it’s a quick-and-dirty version of what is usually a complex process of understanding carbon emissions, but Snapshot’s reliance on extensive lifecycle databases means that its output is usually pretty accurate. And best of all for small business owners, it’s both easy and free.
In some ways, this is just an extension of what the Global Reporting Initiative has been doing with larger corporations for years – finding a way to quantitatively analyze environmental impact using the same tools that we use to quantitatively analyze financial impact. And, as GRI founder Bob Massie pointed out in a talk earlier this year at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, it is probably easier to quantify things like water usage and carbon emissions than it is to quantify “goodwill,” “intangible assets,” or other accounting measures that the finance world assesses on a regular basis. So why not give it a shot?