Business success and environmental activism are traditionally antithetical, but if there was ever a movement to counteract this long-held rule, it’s ‘Ecopreneurship’. An Ecopreneur is someone whose business efforts are “not only driven by profit but also a concern for the environment”. In a modern economy, it’s possible to do what’s right and earn a good living – here’s how to get started.
Define Your Business
For anyone looking to form a sustainable business, it’s crucial that you have clear ecological and business objectives. You might be planning to start a consultancy, utilize renewable energy, build recyclable goods or even reinvent existing products (e.g. meat alternatives, like Beyond Meat). Whatever the idea, you’ll benefit from writing down and laying out in clear terms exactly what you want to achieve and how you believe you can get there. This will then help you to calculate required costs, research the viability of the idea and even lay down the foundations for a business plan.
The world needs Ecopreneurs, but Ecopreneurs aren’t always ready to enter the world. Some business ventures come at heavy personal expense and, if you haven’t found an investor, you may end up fronting your own cash. To protect your and your future business’ financial health, it’s crucial to take the time to build an airtight financial plan. This will include expenses, legal fees, taxes, wages, and any extra contracts/subscriptions. Building a comprehensive financial plan will also help you to pitch to any investors, create a crowdfunding page or assist in applications for loans.
Amongst the most important factors to consider before you embark on your Ecopreneurial journey is ‘market viability.’ In the context of sustainable business, this refers to your potential customer base, existing competition, and the impact your business may have on the environment. It’s also important to locate your niche within the burgeoning market for environmentally-friendly services – if you can address a consumer need and remain carbon neutral/wasteless, you’ll get the double boost of profit and favorable coverage by media outlets.
As a business, your carbon footprint matters – as an Ecopreneur, it’s your entire USP. This is why it’s so essential to ensure that every stage of your business process is green-friendly, from top to bottom. Pay close attention to sustainable packaging, renewable resources, your supply chain, and any marketing/lead generation efforts. If you’re based in the USA, you can work up to apply to become a Certified Green Business – this will grant you access to an exclusive, high-growth network of other eco-focused companies and the process of which will help to streamline your business towards sustainability.
When starting a business of any kind, there is an element of bureaucracy that you’ll need to navigate if you want to be legally covered. For example, whenever you’re operating under a name that’s different from your officially registered name, you’ll need a Doing Business As (DBA) name – this can be advantageous for legal reasons but also for branding purposes. As an earth-friendly enterprise (especially if you’re heavily regulated or subsidized), at some point, you’re also likely to require the services of a business attorney who is familiar with environmental regulations. It’s worth familiarizing yourself with the process of hiring/consulting now, and the benefits that an environmental legal expert can bring to the table. However, to form your business, you’re best served with a formation service like Zenbusiness as it’s more cost-effective and efficient.
Like when starting any other kind of business venture, your priority as an Ecopreneur is to research. If you can learn enough ahead of time, you’ll save yourself money, stress and avoid the common pitfalls that hold back new businesses, green or otherwise.