Your Guide to Ecopreneurship: How to Build a Sustainable Business
Business owners are in a great position to support the environment and have a positive impact on climate change. Ecopreneurs are entrepreneurs who focus on environmental values over all else, putting people and the planet ahead of profits at every opportunity. If this sounds like the type of business you would enjoy being a part of, keep reading to learn how you can launch your own sustainable company!
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Define Your Eco-Friendly Values
First, it’s important to get into ecopreneurship for the right reasons. It’s not uncommon for business owners to leverage the green movement to make a quick buck. Greenwashing—the practice of advertising deceptive eco-friendly claims—can undermine the real positive actions taken by legitimately sustainable companies. As long as your heart is in the right place, you’ll be a great ecopreneur!
Green Business Bureau suggests starting your business planning by writing a green mission statement. This statement will establish eco-friendly priorities that will become the foundation of your business. Not only will this statement help you make sustainable decisions that align with your eco-friendly goals, but it will raise awareness in your employees and customers about the potential of ecopreneurship to change the way business is done.
Focus on a Specific Issue
Sustainable businesses come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re having trouble coming up with an eco-friendly business idea, start by exploring a few environmental problems that you feel particularly passionate about. Perhaps you want to do something to combat ocean pollution, reduce clear-cut logging, or restore the health of degraded soils. Choosing a specific issue to support your business will give you a solid foundation on which to build your values and priorities.
Practice Sustainability in All Areas of Business
While your business may focus on a single environmental issue, make sure sustainability is present across all areas of your company. Look for sustainable options everywhere, from the materials used in your packaging to the cloud service providers with which you host your website. Work with eco-friendly manufacturers and suppliers, invest in energy audits, and launch an office recycling program. All of your business decisions should prioritize cost-effective sustainability.
Do some research to uncover sustainable online software and service providers. For example, you can easily find online payroll services that leverage cloud computing to improve sustainability. Mission Cloud Services explains that many cloud-based online services now run on renewable energy sources and choosing cloud services reduces the need for energy-hungry data centers. Moving business software such as email, CRM, and accounting to the cloud can reduce energy consumption by 87%.
Seek Green Business Certifications
Focusing on going green can benefit your business in several ways. You’ll reduce your energy costs, save money on manufacturing materials, and gain loyal followers who support your initiatives. Becoming certified as a sustainable business can enhance these benefits. Green certifications will increase consumer trust in your brand and help you land clients who want to work with eco-friendly brands to support their own social responsibility objectives.
Earning environmental certifications often involves undergoing assessments to review your policies and practices. These assessments can help identify weaknesses in your sustainability plan and ensure you comply with any environmental standards that your clients may require before working with you. You’ll also see more engagement from stakeholders, managers, and employees who are dedicated to supporting your green practices. Some certifications can be costly, look at the available options and decide where it makes sense for your business to start. You can always level up when its financially feasible for you to do so.
Advertise Without Greenwashing
When it comes to advertising your green business, it’s important to avoid greenwashing. The majority of customers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. Do not exploit this! It’s not enough to simply claim that your business is committed to sustainability. Greenwashing can hurt your reputation and make customers hesitant to believe your sustainability claims. Resist the temptation to exaggerate what you’re doing to protect the planet. Instead, aim for authenticity and honesty in your marketing. Use facts, numbers, and statistics to back up your claims.
Encourage Your Customers to Do More
Businesses play a key role in shaping consumer behavior. Leverage your business to encourage more sustainable behavior among your shoppers. For example, encourage your customers to bring their own reusable bags when they shop at your retail store. You can do this by charging offering a small discount to shoppers who bring a reusable tote. You could even set up a plastic bag recycling program at your store!
Online stores can also give customers eco-friendly options. For example, you could highlight the environmental impact of different shipping options, encouraging customers to wait a bit longer for their order to reduce the environmental impact of shipping their items. You could also give your customers the option to round up their purchase to benefit an environmental charity, which is more effective than asking customers to donate a specific dollar amount. Being transparent about which charity is supported is important to motivate giving on the part of your customers.
Becoming an ecopreneur can be both a rewarding experience and a lucrative career move. If you’re passionate about the environment and want to do everything in your power to combat the issues we’re facing today, consider launching a company and expanding your reach to consumers all over the world. The difference your business makes will leave a meaningful and lasting legacy!
About the Author
Joyce is a retired teacher and enjoys sharing lesson plans, resources, and teaching tips on Teacher Spark.