What if our Fee Structure Supported the Planet?

We’ve been wondering whether changing our pricing structure could help encourage sustainable business. Thanks to a bit of inspiration from Rob Hopkins, we’re going to find out.

Article Info

May 15, 2023 4 mins

What we will cover

Oh, boy! What a time to live through…

As businesses and as individuals, it can seem daunting to acknowledge the various crises that we’re simultaneously facing right now. In the short term, the pandemic and the cost of living crisis have given all small businesses plenty of challenges. In the longer term, we have much larger shared mountains to climb in the shape of the ever growing climate and biodiversity crises that are already having global impacts.

We all have bigger storms to face in the future and much like hurricane Ian which swept away large parts of Florida a few weeks ago or Typhoon Nanmadol which did the same to Japan the week before, they could devastate our lives and livelihoods if we don’t take steps to prepare our businesses and make them more resilient and adaptable.

Baby Steps

For the last few years we’ve been on the same journey as many small businesses, trying to adjust our behavior and working practices so that Vu can operate more sustainably. We’ve measured our carbon footprint and started reducing carbon emissions, adopted a hybrid working model, become a corporate sponsor of a local tree planting charity (https://moortrees.org/) and set up a sustainable business network (https://www.positivenaturenetwork.co.uk/) so that we can help other businesses on their sustainability journey. All of this activity has been valuable but the scale of this particular challenge means that we must find ways to go further.

Imagining the Future

With this in mind I recently took the opportunity to attend a talk by Rob Hopkins, the founder of the Transition movement and an ardent believer in the power of our collective imagination to unlock potential ideas for a better future. Rob’s talk and his book ‘From What Is to What If’ contain many examples of imaginative ideas that have radically changed businesses and communities. His seemingly simple idea of switching our attention from ‘What is’ (the status quo that we see as beyond our individual influence) to ‘What if’ (a leap of imagination that opens up the possibility of many potential futures) is a powerful antidote to cynicism and an invitation to let our curiosity and imagination run free. What if wildlife had legal rights? What if political parties received equal funding for elections and no donations were allowed? What if businesses shared responsibility for their employees’ energy bills? What if… What if… What if…. You get the idea.

Trying Something New

Anyway, listening to Rob made me think about a few ‘What ifs’ that we might be able to put into practice straight away at Vu and one of those was this. What if businesses who are actively supporting the planet get to pay less for things?

The theory goes that by reducing prices for businesses and organisations who are, for example, affiliated with a recognised carbon reduction organisation (e.g. The Carbon Trust, Planet Mark, etc…) we will encourage our existing client base towards emissions reduction and investment in nature regeneration, while at the same time appealing to new clients who are already on the road to Net Zero. Will it work? We’ll have to wait and see but, either way, we’re going to embrace the idea of imagining a better future and then taking action to try and deliver it.

How will it work?

Initially, we’ll be providing a discount of 10% on our hourly rate and our hosting fees to any client who can demonstrate that they are working with a recognised organisation to reduce their emissions in line with national targets. Looking to the future we’d like to go further by providing additional incentives such as free strategy workshops, preferential payment terms and long term price freezes for clients who achieve their emissions targets. The idea here is not to preach or to punish current clients but to incentivise behaviours that are to the collective advantage of all our clients, our families, wider communities and the planet.

By harnessing the collective imagination of our team, I believe that we can create a brighter vision for the future and make positive things happen in the world. And the guiding principle for doing this will remain a simple one – what if…

Do you know anyone who may be interested in this project?

Click to share: