(This weeks post is by guest blogger Emma Crosby. Thanks for sharing Emma!)
As awareness about the importance of sustainability, and minimising the impact of our footprint on the earth, increases, more and more entrepreneurs are keen to make their businesses as green and sustainable as possible. Minimizing the impact that your business has on the world around you, and the effect it will have on the wider environment, is a very common concern for new business owners. However, if you’re setting up a green business from scratch, or new to the idea of sustainability within your established business, it can be difficult to know where to start.
(Photo from our trip to Greenbuild 2016 and the "Managing a LEED Project Workshop." Learn more by reading our report "38 Things We Learned at Greenbuild 2016.")
The fact is, the nation’s growing interest in sustainability provides a market ripe for exploitation for small business owners; there is a growing number of consumers that want to ensure that their financial decisions (where they shop, what they eat, even where they buy their insurance) is as sustainable as possible, but a surprisingly small number of opportunities for them to do so. If you’re thinking of starting a green business or making your existing business more sustainable, then here are some top tips for success:
It Starts With an Idea
A successful green business will start with just one thing: a great idea. Ensuring that your idea is a great idea, however, will take a little work. First, research other environmental businesses within your region to ensure that the business you want to start doesn’t already exist (or check to make sure there is enough room in the market for both of you). Once you’re sure your idea is unique or fulfils a gap in the market, take it out to green consumers and conduct market research to ensure that this is a concept they would be interested in: eco-conscious consumers are passionate, enthusiastic, and as a general rule would love to take to you about your ideas. If you’re not sure where to start then an eco-marketing team could conduct this research for you.
Finally, ensure that your business model is practical and can be implemented within your budget: this means finding premises, receiving quotes from business insurance providers, sourcing sustainable suppliers. Understanding exactly how much your business will cost to establish, and understanding what your potential customers want from your business will give you the right starting tools to make your business a success.
Be Passionate About What You Do
One of the most important tips for new green entrepreneurs is to be passionate about what you do; because the people you will be working with and interacting with are likely to be equally as passionate about the eco message, they will recognise immediately if your message and vision is genuine. Passion is essential for green entrepreneurs. Getting this passion across is also important: When you are hiring your team, ensure they have the same passion for sustainability that you do. These will be the people that represent your brand, and your brand ethos on a daily basis. It’s important that they share your passion for sustainability and for making the world a better place through careful consumption, so that they can help to pass on that enthusiasm to your clients or customers.
When it comes to sustainable business, knowledge is power, and many consumers are looking for your knowledge and well as what you are selling. Eco-conscious consumers want to learn more about the environment, and about where their goods are coming from. Ensure you are fully educated about your field of expertise, and ensure you have shared this knowledge with your team before they begin meeting your customers.
Be Prepared to Work Hard
Building a green business, like building any business, is not easy: it takes a lot of effort. It requires significant resources (in terms of both time and money) and as our knowledge and understanding of the impact we are having on the planet changes, you will constantly need to reinvent both yourself and your business. Accepting that you will have to put in long hours, and be truly dedicated to your business and to the eco-vision it represents is one of the most important aspects of becoming a successful eco-entrepreneur.
“Start a Green Business”, Entrepreneur Magazine, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/170778
“18 Green Business Ideas for Eco-Minded Entrepreneurs”, Business News Daily, http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5102-green-business-ideas.html
“Business insurance”, Q, http://www.quotezone.co.uk/business-insurance.htm
“Industrial Marketing Handbook”, Lohre and Associates, https://www.lohre.com/industrial-marketing-handbook
“Why and how to make your business sustainable”, Conscious Company magazine, http://www.consciouscompanymagazine.com/blogs/press/why-and-how-to-make-your-business-sustainable
“6 effective ways to build a sustainable business”, Entrepreneur Magazine, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/252029
Get in touch if you would like to learn more about building sustainably. Lunch is on us.