Step one in planning for a new year is taking stock in what we've learned from the past twelve months - celebrating the successes, studying the mistakes, and assessing how we've grown as an organization. Here we share four lessons and reflections we identified that may resonate with eco-minded people and businesses!
We are sustainability partners for many of our customers
EcoEnclose started with the mission of making it easy to buy ecofriendly shipping solutions. But, driven by your sustainability questions, we have developed research, products, and a sustainability framework that is cutting edge and relevant. But this has led to even more complex questions.
In 2018, we were frequently asked hard but critical questions from you such as “Should I go plastic free?”, "Are recycled poly mailers or recycled boxes better?" or "What kind of printing ink is best for the environment?". We LOVE engaging with you on these meaty questions that don't have easy answers. We realized our job as not just offering eco-friendly packaging options on a website but to be a comprehensive resource and willing partner you can work with to develop a shipping and packaging strategy of which you can be proud.
What does this mean for you? First, we hope you'll see us as a resource to help you make the best packaging decisions for your brand and the planet. We may not have all the answers, but we are willing to do the research with you. Second, think about the sustainability expertise you've developed in building your products and business. Are there ways for you to share more of it with your customers, vendors or industry peers?
Setting the RIGHT metrics is critical
We admit it, we're data geeks! And for a long time, we tried hard to track everything. This led to tracking and data fatigue across our team, and often a lack of focus on what is truly important. In 2018 we culled it down - setting 1-2 metrics for each department and prioritizing these above all else. Metrics were based on controllable daily actions and tracked weekly, rather than long term outcomes. The result? A team that consistently focused on the right tasks, more successfully served our customers, took pride in their performance, and felt in control at work - even during our busiest weeks.
As you look to 2019, consider whether or not setting or changing company metrics can improve productivity, eliminate distractions and allow you and your team to be proud of what you've accomplished at the end of every day.
Sustainability is like an onion...and we love it!
This year we realized (and slowly came to accept) that our products will always need improvement. It seems that after every product innovation or improvement, we have a burst of excitement, followed by a realization that there is more work to be done! For example, we were thrilled when we launched an eco-friendly sticker offering this year, with an innovative liner take back program. But we are also believe there is a way to improve the liner itself and the inks used for these stickers.
When working in sustainability, it can be easy to get discouraged. There are no perfect solutions and each stride uncovers more areas of improvement. We realized it is important to instead celebrate the advancements and wins, and embrace the gaps as exciting opportunities to tackle with each subsequent year.
Which is a mindset that gets us so excited to be kicking off 2019!
Changes can have widespread, unexpected consequences
This is true in life, in nature and in business operations! We launched a new website in September and in doing so, were reminded of how intricately connected everything is within our company. A new website means changes to how we support our customers, a new way of managing inventory and new methods for tracking data. The first reaction is often “This is hard; I like the old way”, but after several months we have seen improvements in almost every area of our business.
Two lessons we took away. First, when you're making a change - in business or even in life – take the time to consider its expected and unexpected effects. Second, change, however painful it can be in the near term, is the only way to improve your organization. Don’t be afraid of it!