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How can you be part of the green entrepreneur community?
by Startacus Admin
In the final part of his series of posts on Spotting entrepreneurial opportunities in the green economy Richard Boothman highlights how can you be part of the green entrepreneur community...
"In this series of blogs I've looked at the green economy and identified opportunities for your new green business. I want to use this final post to summarise what I've said and help you identify the next steps you can take to become a successful green entrepreneur.
I hope I've convinced you that the opportunities in the green economy are huge. The green economy is currently about 8% of the UK's GDP. Over a period of years, we need to reach the situation where 100% of our GDP is green. Our current way of doing business and consuming resources isn't sustainable and if we don't take action now, the whole world's economy is heading for the buffers.
In the UK, pressure for change is coming from the government, in the form of both carrots and sticks. The carrots are incentive schemes such as Feed-in Tariffs, the Green Deal and the Renewable Heat Incentive. The sticks are, for example, increased regulation around the use and disposal of packaging, the amount of material we put in landfill and the carbon dioxide we emit to the atmosphere. But pressure is also coming from business. Many businesses are changing the way they operate and are embedding sustainability practices in their basic operations. Big companies doing this are Marks & Spencer and Unilever. Examples of smaller businesses working in the green economy are Ecotricity and Rapanui.
Consumers are also increasingly demanding change. There's still a long way to go before everyone is fully aware of the challenges and the need to change the way we consume, but more people are recognising the rising prices of energy, food and products. A groundswell of opinion is developing and more goods and services to meet the needs of these informed consumers are required. But even for the less well informed or those who don't care, it makes tremendous business sense to use environmental principles to minimise your resource use per unit of production and to make sure you're not paying for material to go to landfill that could be used by another company as a business input.
So hopefully you now agree that the green economy is a great place for an entrepreneur to focus on. But perhaps you need some help to get started. In earlier articles I gave you some thoughts about how to develop your ideas and I provided examples at various points of businesses that have developed to address the challenges. Our website (www.ecoskill.co.uk) also has other resources that may help you develop your new green business ideas. For example, each week on our Ideas Hub we publish a green business idea to help you identify opportunities and to encourage you to think creatively to develop your own ideas. Have a look at this each month and begin a debate around the ideas.
Even if you decide that you can't come up with the right green product or service but you still want to start your own business, you can start a conventional business but be green about it! If you're doing this, remember that, in addition to your profit, you need to think about:
People – your employees, suppliers, customers, shareholders, any other stakeholders and the wider community. Your business will have an impact on all of them and you owe it to yourself and to them to act responsibly in the way you set up and manage your business.
The planet – every action we take has an impact on the environment. In all your business decisions, make sure you consider the effect on the environment. Is there a recycled component you could use rather than manufacturing a new one from virgin materials; is there a more energy efficient way of running your vehicles; and how do you minimise the emissions from your business.
When your business is successful and you're making profit, continue to think of both people and planet and consider ways you can give something back. Can you invest in other new businesses? Can you donate time and/or money to an environmental or social cause that interests you? Can you help to educate young people about the challenges we face and how business can help to meet the challenges?
Good luck with your new business idea. I'd welcome any feedback you'd like to offer."
About Richard: Richard is at various times and sometimes simultaneously a businessman, an environmentalist and an Associate Lecturer with the Open University. He is one of the founders of ecoskill (www.ecoskill.co.uk), which provides on-line learning for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in the green economy.
Cheers Richard and many thanks for sharing all your knowledge and experience about the green economy and spotting entrepreneurial opportunities in the green economy on Startacus. If you want to read all the past posts (part 1 -6) then here's all the links below:
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