You can’t just say you’re green and expect to be so. “The role of an individual enterprise led by a visionary entrepreneur has now become critical,” writes Jonathan M. Estes in book, Smart Green: How to Implement Sustainable Business Practices in Any Industry—and Make Money (John Wiley & Sons, 2009), which we’ve probably written far too much about in this blog.
Here are six more keys to building a successful green company, which I have plucked from the book. Have any others? Send them my way!
Be Green Yourself
And measure it. “Smart Green companies measure,” writes Estes. “Once they measure, they are ready to take their marketing and transparency plan to the next level.”
“Establish a center of expertise within the environmental and social aspects, cradle-to-cradle product lifecycle, and their benefits of your product that will have customers and partners coming to you for education and advice.” For custom electronics firms, this could mean becoming experts in energy efficient products, energy-saving automation or lighting systems. Maybe you can offer energy audits of homeowner’s electronics systems and offer money-saving upgrades.
Share Your Vision and Passion
“No matter your company’s size or the stage it is on, share your vision for what will benefit the client financially or nonfinancially, and deliver it well.” This not only is good salesmanship, it’s walking the green walk.
For sustainability marketing plans to be successful, “actions and communications must be aligned, successful green strategies must be as sustainable as they are credible, and they must deliver sound economic ROI”—both in your company and for your clients. If you can show them how going energy efficient worked in your office, for example, they’ll be more willing to do it in their homes.
Persevere; Don’t expect rapid growth
Smart Green cites Chad Ray of Old Heritage Builders, who started building green homes several years ago. “Nothing happens overnight. … We took a small, incremental approach. Once they know something is genuinely important to you, they will take notice. People are scared of things they are not comfortable with. We still put out a new thing or two that we want to try.
“It’s not a quick sell,” says one retailer. “As to the idea of a whole systems approach to sustainability, we as a society are not there yet.”
Get Greener, and Show it
International sustainability expert Robert Pojasek says, “Transparency and accountability are the two key words in measuring business performance related to environmental issues and that sustainability should be about doing more or a good thing, not less of a bad thing.” Smart green companies seek to increase their level of transparency as the market rewards them.
As Estes points out, also seek to stretch your own footprint to partners and suppliers, and extend the change up to the point of extraction and to waste after consumption.