This article aims to explain the strategies that small businesses should apply to get the ISO 14001 certification for proving their environmental compliance.

No doubt the environmental consequences and harmful impacts of large-sized or multinational organizations are huge. But we should not forget that small businesses also leave an impact on the environment. That is why small to mid-sized businesses need to find strategies to get the ISO 14001 certification just like large organizations to implement the best practices of environmental management and prove their compliance with environmental regulations. ISO 14001 is the top international certification for Environmental Management Systems (EMS) applicable to businesses of all types and sizes. The point of this article is that most small businesses are not convinced about the significance of this certification in their industry. They consider implementing a certified EMS would cost them a lot and would also overburden their limited number of employees with additional tasks. However, they fail to consider that the costs of achieving the certification would easily be recovered with the new customers or opportunities generated for their business as a result of such international accreditation.
Whether the ISO 14001 certification method seems too complex or costly for small businesses, here we have provided simplified strategies for them to achieve it.

Strategies for Small Businesses to Get the ISO 14001 Certification

Here are the strategies that small businesses need to follow to get certified with the ISO 14001 standard.

Gap Analysis

Gap analysis is the first step to preparing for the EMS certification. It involves a formal evaluation and analysis of the business’s existing policies, controls and framework for environmental management. It is conducted in two stages. The first stage involves reviewing the readiness of the organization for the certification i.e., whether the mandatory procedures and controls as mentioned in the ISO 14001 standard are already implemented, partially implemented, or not at all implemented. Therefore, with the first stage evaluation, you can identify all the gaps in your existing framework. Accordingly, you can plan a list of procedures and controls that should be implemented or improved to ensure the business becomes compliant with the ISO 14001 requirements.

When all the requirements of the standard are fulfilled, the second stage of gap analysis or evaluation takes place. In this stage, the organization needs to analyze the implemented actions to ensure they are working effectively towards the intended goals.


Another most common and useful approach for achieving the ISO 14001 is getting specialized consultation from a dedicated ISO firm. They have an individual, well-planned, and agile approach to the certification and hence can assist you and guide you throughout the process. Their customized approach would also ensure that a small business’s chance of getting certified is the highest or almost 100%. In short, with support from a professional ISO consultancy, the small business can overcome its lack of internal expertise in environmental management and find relatively easy ways to implement the EMS, improve their existing procedures or controls, and be prepared for the ISO 14001.

Management Review

Management review along with internal audits is vital for small businesses to ensure their EMS is effective at achieving the environmental targets. When experienced managers or officials conduct proper reviews at regular intervals, a small business can monitor and measure its environmental performance overtime. It also helps them to identify any nonconformity issues in the EMS with ISO 14001 requirements. Therefore, based on the reports of management reviews, a small business can determine corrective actions and improvements in the EMS to ensure both its ISO conformity and continual performance improvement.

Training and Awareness

When a small business wants to achieve the ISO 14001 standard, it typically needs the involvement of employees in executing the necessary practices like periodic risk assessments, risk reporting, creating and maintaining documentation, scheduling internal audits, deploying sustainable approaches, measuring environmental performance, and so forth. Employees must be well trained and possess the skills to carry out these practices specific to the EMS. Therefore, just implementing the EMS according to the ISO 14001 requirements is simply not enough. A small business should continually hold training sessions to make employees adequately skilled to conduct all necessary practices and help maintain their ISO compliance.

There may be many challenges in achieving the ISO 14001 certification, especially for a small business. However, with suitable strategies and planning, these can be easily defeated. While many organizations have achieved the certification, small businesses are very much lagging behind. Time-consuming process, complexities, and high costs are the main reasons cited by most SMEs for not getting certified. So, these are some easy strategies that can help them overcome all these reasons and get certified fast and easily.

Author's Bio: 

Damon Anderson is the owner and managing director of a reputed ISO consultancy firm that provides certification consultation to businesses in widespread industries. He is also an avid writer and likes to write articles on the ISO 14001 certification, in which he has specialized knowledge and has advised many enterprises over 15+ years.