While some may say the goal of “saving the planet” is a lofty, if not an impossible feat, a green movement is burgeoning, and if you’re an eco-minded entrepreneur, there’s no better time to start sowing the seeds of a green business. Here’s some advice to help you get started.
What Are Your Skill Sets?
Before delving into the business planning process, the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends you make an honest assessment of your interests, strengths, and skill sets, as these will be integral to the type of business opportunity you pursue. While you can certainly hire people to fill in skills gaps, being passionate, knowledgeable, and educated on a subject will be critical to startup success.
Of course, you can always go back to school and pursue an online business degree to expand your knowledge and further develop your business acumen. Online education has the added benefit of being accessible from any location, and you can often work on your own timetable while launching your company. Look for a college that has a program you’re interested in, as well as competitive tuition rates.
What Will You Do?
Many successful ventures start with an entrepreneur looking for a way to solve a problem. As an eco-friendly nature lover, what challenge do you want to tackle? Are you interested in water or energy conservation? Recyclable products? Methods for reducing carbon footprints for organizations?
Maybe it’s green marketing, solar-inspired product creation, or new engineering concepts that allow for carbon capture. Perhaps you’re interested in sustainable building, meeting standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council. Or maybe you want to work for a phase 1 esa company to assess if there is soil or groundwater contamination to a property. How about a consulting role where you help other businesses devise innovative solutions to pressing sustainability challenges? Narrow your scope and focus on the problem or issue you want to tackle and strategize how you can best enact change.
What Are Your Resources?
One of the reasons green businesses are slow to rise is due to the fact that some green enterprises are currently more expensive to launch and sell to the public than other more traditional business models. For example, if you’re interested in producing an organic, artisanal, small-hand-batch product line from ethically-sourced suppliers using sustainable manufacturing practices and recyclable materials, you’ll have a superior green product—but you’ll also have one that’s more costly to produce than its common counterparts.
This isn’t a bad thing, just something to consider when you’re crunching your numbers. If you plan on using business loans, be sure to examine your personal finances before applying. Entrepreneurs often don’t generate a profit in the early start-up period, so you’ll want to be sure you’re on firm financial footing and have a realistic, detailed budget in place.
How Will You Operate?
The operational elements of your green endeavor will likely be informed by the type of sustainable business you launch. You could start as a home-based operation, go the traditional route with a storefront, office, or facility, or think about the benefits of a coworking collective. Many entrepreneurs find it helpful to work alongside other like-minded people, so consider looking at a co-op or maker space where you can work alone, or with others.
Also, look at work being done at local colleges and universities you might be able to contribute to or be involved with. You can likely find talented students from schools of sustainability to work as interns and new hires. Making a commitment to protect the planet, green the Earth, and create a sustainable environment for everyone is an important and ambitious goal. Plan your approach well, conduct your due diligence, and start making a change!