The Rules of Green Business Start-ups
On Friday I was interviewed for a PhD project as an ‘ecopreneur’ and it got me mulling and chin scratching. If you are thinking of starting a green business, here’s some key principles you should never forget:
1. Don’t forget you are running a business: It is so easy some times to get evangelical about green business, but the underlying business model must be robust, or you will sink like a stone. No-one owes you a living just because you are green.
2. Hire good business people: It is much easier to teach sustainability principles to a good engineer, designer, salesperson or marketeer than it is to teach engineering, design, sales or marketing to a keen environmentalist.
3. Don’t greenwash: As John Grant, author of the Green Marketing Manifesto, said “Green Marketing is about making green look normal, not about making normal look green.”
4. Understand your market: many consumers still equate ‘green’ with poor performance and high price. You have to sell the ‘sizzle’ of green products eg the big benefit to consumers of water-based wall paint is not the fact it isn’t as polluting as solvent-based paints, but that it is quick drying and doesn’t stink your house out for weeks. You’ve got to compete on price, performance and planet.
5. Don’t give up easily: it’s a tough business to be in and resilience is the key to success. On the other hand, if you realise your great idea really is a turkey, you may have to ‘pivot’ the business around to another exploit a more profitable opportunity.