New Years resolutions are not enough these days. Rather than just make New Years resolutions for 2009 to change my own bad habits, I’m making New Years revolutions to encourage personal green revolutions among entrepreneurs, starting today.
The green revolution is not a sales job, or an ad campaign that convinces us to change our color for a time until the world moves on to the next fad. The revolution is a trend propelled by the basic logic of building a sustainable economy, one that wastes less and accomplishes more. Going green is not a fashion trend, but a force pulling the world in a different direction, like gravity pulling water downhill. The move toward green business may be inevitable in the long term, like water flowing downhill, but its flow can be blocked by assumptions and bad information. Changing these assumptions is like removing a dam to keep the revolution moving forward, unleashing the inherent power of an idea whose time has come.
The power of the green revolution is not that it’s quick, easy money, but that it’s driven by deep long-term trends. This revolution has been a long time coming, and its got a long way to go still. Whatever the economy is doing, it still makes sense for businesses and homes to waste less energy and other resources. Oil will not stay cheap forever, and it seems likely that oil will increase again significantly in price this year. A growing number of governments are realizing that just as we cannot run our economy on debt forever, we cannot run at a debt with the natural world forever. Our debts are coming due.
This revolution will not happen overnight. Really, for all of its progress, it has just barely begun. You can wait for someday when things are better, or you can start today on a different path. Here are five personal revolutions if you want to join the broader revolution, the inevitable transition to a greener and more sustainable economy of the future, with a green business of your own.
1. I Am Starting Small (if I Have to)
The times might seem awful, but for some starting when times are tough can turn out well. The founders of Method, the green home products company, started in the midst of the dotcom bust and despite having a hard time they managed to learn quickly, work through their way through it, and come out on top. Still, if times are tough and money is tight, you may need to start small and keep your day job while you get things going. Maybe you need to avoid buying equipment or office space, or pick up used equipment. Maybe you can barter for what you need rather than spending money. Starting out small and testing the water may put you ahead of the game once things do turn around. Its times like these that help you focus in on the bare bones, what you really, really need.
2. I Am Thinking Big
Starting small does not mean you have to stay that way. Green businesses are part of something larger, each contributing in its way to the larger goal of creating a more sustainable world for the future. Remembering that can help you to remember your way when pressures of the moment threaten to push you off course.
Being small is not an inherent part of going green with your business. One of the ideas people have about green businesses is that staying small is essential for them to stay true to helping the planet. For green businesses to really help the planet though they have to break out of their niche and compete on the mainstream. They have to provide great products at a competitive price that just happen to also be green. There are plenty of opportunities though for green entrepreneurs to work with major retailers, as Terracycle is doing.
3. I Am Greening My Business Inside and Out
I think that the successful green businesses, those that make it in the long run, will be those that have environmentally sound products and services that reflect their own core beliefs in the cause. They will consider not just the end product, but how it is made, where it comes from, where it is sold, and how it is used. Thinking through your overall environmental impact is not going to happen overnight, but having good information about where you stand is a great starting point for future green efforts, helping you measure the progress you make.
4. I Am Making Money (It’s Okay to Make Money)
Okay, this one may seem obvious, but I find a surprising number of people who struggle with this. They are attracted to green because they care so much about the planet, but are reticent about making money. It’s all about the cause, for them, and for some making money by selling things makes them part of the problem. To survive and prosper though, and have the impact they want, they need to provide great products and services, and make money in the process. If they don’t sell, and don’t make money, their business will not exist for long.
5. I Am Getting Started Today
Some will put off starting a business, waiting for better times. It’s hard getting started I know, scary. Starting today in some way though, taking that first step, can change your whole perspective. Your thinking changes from “I don’t know if I can”, to “Let’s figure out how I can”. If you know what you want to do, take at least a small step to begin with, one that gets you started in the right direction. Everything else flows from there.