Do you have what it takes to become an ecopreneur?

Everyone’s had a dream to start a green business.

Well, at least everyone reading this blog.  But where to begin?  You have an idea.  You have some skills.  Maybe you have some experience in the field.  Perhaps you have some startup capital.  Are these things enough for you to become a successful ecopreneur?  Maybe most importantly, do you know what you’re doing?!

Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill)

Let’s say you love the idea of organic agriculture, and want to support organic farmers.  You hang out a shingle as an organic foods broker, offering to represent organic farmers in promoting their goods in your community among local grocers, restaurants, and coffee shops.  You get a bunch of people willing to sign up and give you a cut of their proceeds if you’ll get them into your local market, and all seems good until you pick up the phone and start to call the restaurant on the corner by your house.  Wait.  You’re a cold-calling salesman?  Really?  How did this happen?

Odds are, you forgot to think about your business model.  You fell in love with a concept.  You enjoyed telling your friends and family that you’d be promoting organic produce.  You slept well at night knowing that you were helping promote health, wellness, and the environment all in one.  You felt the tingle of excitement of starting a new business.  But you didn’t think through what that business might look like in terms of your daily activities.

Rule number one is:  Don’t forget that a green business is still a job.  Run one that you’ll enjoy.

Lay out the step-by-step model on paper or on a dry-erase board, and make sure you understand all the moving parts.  Especially your role, because you’re going to be doing lots of it, so it might as well be something you like doing, are good at, and that allows you a level of comfort with your day-to-day.  Stressing out over the budget, managing employees, etc., is normal for a small business owner, but this should not be compounded by stress from the actual job itself.

Scott Cooney is author of Build a Green Small Business:  Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and proprietor of a Facebook page called Ecopreneur’s Guide, a place where ecopreneurs can share ideas.

About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on