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How to start on the path to becoming a green entrepreneur

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by Startacus Admin

Richard Boothman from Ecoskill continues his series of posts on the green economy and entrepreneurship. Over to you Richard!

In earlier instalments in this series of blog posts, I looked at the green economy and why it's a great sector for the entrepreneur to focus on. This time I'm going to look at the first steps to becoming a green entrepreneur.

pathYou're off to a head start as an entrepreneur by focusing on the green economy. It's an emerging sector so you're here at the start of the development and it's great to ride that wave of innovation.

Lets start by considering an analogy to the green economy. The media recently celebrated the mobile phone's 40th birthday but when I got my first mobile phone in the late 1980s, it was virtually the size of a house brick and weighed nearly as much. In the past 20 years, we've seen increasing miniaturisation, increased computing power, enhanced infrastructure and networks. More recently, smartphones and apps are changing the way we use mobile phones and this has opened up more innovation and opportunities. In fact, our core business of creating e-learning courses has been changed by the growth of learning using tablets and mobile phones. Using these devices you can gain access to learning material anywhere and at any time. There are many similar opportunities in the green economy waiting for the right innovators and entrepreneurs and the scale of growth could match that of mobile phone technology.

The big question then is, how do you find the right business to make this change? Where do you find an idea that you're going to be able to live with – literally – for the next few years. Two important criteria for making this decision are your passions and your skills.

If you're passionate about something it's much more likely to hold your interest and attention for a period of time. In this sector, in addition to your primary passion, you should also be excited about protecting and enhancing the environment. It's also important to find an opportunity that matches your skills. It's important that you possess at least some of the key skills necessary for your particular business but these don't necessarily need to be in the green sector as you'll almost certainly be able to find suitably qualified collaborators.

But passion and skills are important irrespective of the type of business you're thinking of starting. So, is there something that sets a green business apart from others? At this stage in the development of the green economy, we believe that what sets apart the green entrepreneur is the opportunity to make a difference to the world. I'm not talking about saving the planet but about changes that make a difference. Your small new business is unlikely to be the catalyst that changes the whole world (although think about the influence of Google or Facebook and perhaps it's not too far fetched) but saving energy or reducing consumption of some important resource will make a difference. In the early stages this may only be at a local level but small changes are important and if we all make small changes, we can influence the way the whole world works.

One way of coming up with ideas is to look at the challenges. Climate change; deforestation; loss of biodiversity; ocean acidification; and resource scarcity are just some of the major environmental issues we face. Think about these and other challenges and how they impact you and your local community. You can't necessarily solve the problems but you may be able to develop an idea that'll go some way towards addressing them.

An alternative approach is to think about common problems and strip them back to first principles to see if you can find a greener solution. I talked in an earlier blog about rethinking the kettle. Is the kettle the most efficient and effective way of heating water to make a cup of tea or coffee? Can you think of a way of heating a small quantity of water to the temperature needed, that uses less energy or fewer resources over its lifecycle than the currently accepted method? The ecokettle  is one solution but it's still based on conventional ways of thinking and adapting what we already have. Are there alternatives?

Has this got you thinking about the possibilities? Keep thinking about your ideas and in the next piece I'll look at some potential business ideas.

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Published on: 2nd July 2013

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