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Career Advice, Entrepreneur, Work

3 Important Tips for Budding Ecopreneurs

Written by Jessica Thiefels
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The world needs more people who care about the Earth and how we’re treating it. If you’re one of those people, it’s time you got your business started. However, building a company, much less one that requires managing more than just profit (people and planet, too!) isn’t easy.

I recently had an opportunity to sit down for coffee with Ted Rollins, who has a seriously impressive wrap sheet. To catch you up to speed: Ted Rollins is the successful ecopreneur who started Campus Crest with $14,000—and grew it to become the second largest student-housing platform in the world. What’s the eco-friendy spin? Their focus is on the triple bottom line of environmental, social and economics.

I left our coffee meeting filled with inspiration and ideas for how I too can build my business. If you’re passionate about making a change for our environment, don’t miss his tips for “green” ecopreneurs looking to make a difference.

1. Find Balance

“Balancing economic returns with environmental and social stewardship is something that requires thoughtful leadership.”

You’re going into a tough business, and knowing how to balance what’s right for the environment, the greater community and the people is critical. As a thoughtful leader, you must consider how all of these are impacted by the choices you’re making for your business, always focusing on improving the lives and environment of everyone.

Being a thoughtful leader requires you to:

  • Be curious: How can I make this better? How can we improve that?
  • Reflect: How can we do this differently next time for a better outcome?
  • Take action: We know what we need to do; we’ve done the research, so let’s go.

Check in with yourself and other leaders in your startup regularly to make sure you haven’t lost track of this thoughtful approach. Better yet, consider whether you need to modify what that means to your business as it evolves and grows.

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2. Surround Yourself With the Right People

“Good team members working together will make better decisions.”

Good ecopreneurs don’t figure out how to balance social and environmental stewardship on their own; they surround themselves with others who share the same passion and drive about your goal, product, business, etc. Because of this, these employees have a stake in making the best decisions possible for everyone.

Making the final hiring decision is not where this stops, though. Invest in your employees, involve them in your decision-making process, and rely on their complimentary skills to bring your shared passion to life.

3. Don’t Be Deterred

“Keep on pushing until you achieve your goal, even when you are at the end of your rope. Especially when you are at the end of your rope.”

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, much less being one with an environmental agenda. Moving forward when you get pushed back or are struggling to manage the 3 P’s (triple bottom line: profit, people, planet), is hard, but not impossible. Just look at people like Ted Rollins, Blake Mycoskie (founder of TOMS) and Jeffrey Hollender (founder of Seventh Generation). When in doubt, remember you are in great company; they’ve been there before, and have built their businesses into brand names.

Rollins also reminds ecopreneurs about the cautionary tale of the old gold miner—he stopped digging on his claim 1 inch from the gold. Don’t let go of the rope too soon; hold on, forge ahead and finish what you were meant to do.

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Being an ecopreneur isn’t easy, but it can be rewarding if you hold tight to your dreams, surround yourself with people who share our passions, and push forward in the face of difficulty. Use these tips to forge ahead with your earth-friendly business and make the difference you know you can.

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