Finding Your Green Business’s Ideal Client Through Networking

As a marketing tool, networking is a great outlet for making ‘ideal’ connections for small businesses.  What’s an ideal connection?  Perhaps an analogy will help elucidate the term.  You’ve probably heard the following saying:

Give a man a fish and you’ve fed him for a day.
Teach a man how to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.

For that man, his ideal connection would be a fishing instructor.  Similarly, you could consider a fruit tree.  Would you prefer to have a mango, or a mango tree?  For your business, as the analogy goes, there will be clients (fish, or fruit…), and there will be those who love you and your business and will feed you with clients for years (these are the fishing instructors or fruit trees…).

Connecting with these people is obviously going to benefit your bottom line tremendously.  But where do you even start?  How do you identify these ideal connections for your business?  How do you then connect with them?  And perhaps most importantly, how do you foster and nurture these relationships over time?

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Creating A Dynamite Elevator Pitch for your Green Business

An elevator pitch can make or break your business.  With an elevator pitch delivered at the right time and to the right person, you could land the financing you need to take your business out of the basement of your house and into the front pages of the local newspaper.  You might also land the client that will refer you several more clients that will eventually turn your business into a profit-making machine that creates green jobs and helps the transition to the green economy.

The elevator pitch summarizes your business in an exciting, intriguing way that gets clients, the media, investors, and your employees excited about your company and ready to find out more.  And quite simply, it’s your chance to make a good first impression.  And we all know how many chances you get to do that. Continue reading

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What Is Employee Engagement, and How Can Your Company Use It To Increase Sales?

Employee engagement is a crucial element of business success.  Employees who are not ‘engaged’ in their job tend to have low morale and poor job performance.  For employers, employee engagement is a large factor in company innovation, performance and work force turnover (how many employees quit and need to be replaced in an expensive and time-consuming process of recruiting and training a new person).  Large companies spend monumental amounts of money to engage their employees for exactly these reasons.   Typically, an employee engagement program centers on an initiative. Ford Motor Co. had a well-publicized employee engagement program centered on quality (you may remember their commercials with the tagline, “Quality is Job 1”).  They were able to track several metrics around this issue, and incentivized workers to maintain high levels of quality by reducing mistakes made in their manufacturing facilities.

Increasingly, companies are looking at sustainability, both personal and company-wide, as a galvanizing force to get their employees to become more engaged in their work.

Sustainability arguably provides one of the most engaging topics for a theme of an employee engagement program.  People are curious about it, and it is quite utilitarian (i.e., it has something for everyone).  Sustainability encompasses people’s health (healthy food, clean drinking water, etc.), the health of the environment (clean air, clean water, healthy ecosystems providing ecological services like keeping disease at bay), societal issues (safe public parks, walkable communities, connecting with our neighbors, getting people together and away from the TV), and economic sustainability (people’s paychecks, business success, etc.).  It’s so ubiquitous, in fact, that it lends itself well to improving employee satisfaction, morale, productivity, and retention.  And just as importantly for the entrepreneur or manager, it also has terrific potential for contributing to the bottom line of the company.

And while Wal-Mart and Ford can spend millions of dollars on these kinds of initiatives, is it useful for a small business owner?  According to a study just released by Brighter Planet, smaller companies (<100 employees) are arguably more successful with employee engagement programs as large ones.  According to employees polled, small companies do a better job at connecting with their employees than large companies, communicating their sustainability initiatives “very frequently”.  So how can your small business use employee engagement around sustainability to galvanize your workers, and improve the bottom line?

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Fundraising for Your Green Business–Is Borrowing From Friends and Family Insane?

Though banks and other traditional lenders are unlikely to lend to startups, there are many potential sources of funding for a business in its startup or infancy period.  Perhaps the most frequent is borrowing from friends and family. It’s a delicate subject.  Here, we offer some accumulated wisdom from professionals in the fundraising industry about how to go about it.

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FREE PRESS??? The Elements of a Successful Press Release for Green Businesses

Public Relations are one area where sustainable businesses have a tremendous advantage over conventional counterparts.  As cutting edge businesses that are more selflessly focused not just on their profits but on society, the local economy, and the environment, sustainable businesses make a great story for news and media organizations.

How successful can a good press release be?  Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and author of Let My People Go Surfing:  The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, encourages green businesses to use press releases to generate a lot of good, free, publicity:

PR companies will tell you that a favorable, independent press release is worth 3-8 times the same space paid for in an advertisement.  Using a more conservative 1-1 formula, we calculated that in 1994, the year we came out with Synchilla fleece made from recycled soda bottles, we generated $5 million worth of free press for the company.

By no means is this process a sure bet.  To maximize your chances of success, you’ll need to learn how to effectively use press releases for your sustainable business.  And even though social media seems to be changing the face of Public Relations, a well-written press release is still a very powerful tool for promoting your business. Continue reading

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Ask The Village!

At Green Business Village, we aim to provide sustainability solutions for small businesses and their owners.  Our regular column, “ASK THE VILLAGE” will feature the most interesting, pressing, unique, or fun question sent to us by one of our village peers (that’s you!).

Got a question on sustainability solutions for your small business?  Question about a potential startup you’re considering?  Send it to us.  We may not be able to answer everyone’s question, but, if selected, you’ll get a well-researched, well-documented response on our public forum.  Other ‘villagers’ can also chime in with responses to our posted answer.

Send your questions to us at, with the subject heading “ASK THE VILLAGE”.

Happy Eco-Entrepreneuring!

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