Help for Green Entrepreneurs

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What’s a budding eco entrepreneur to do? You have an idea, you have the hutzpah, but who are you going to turn to for help when you need to make a thousand decisions in your first year of operations?

You might see if there is a local chapter of Net Impact in your area. Originally an on-campus organization in business schools, uniting students who wanted to learn to use business to impact social change, Net Impact now has professional chapters of business people (with and without MBA’s) that have frequent speaker and networking events. If you’re an “arm-chair entrepreneur” and want to find information online, Net Impact also provides a Resource Center with articles and links to sites with “how to” and background information on such topics as environmental sustainability, social responsibility and entrepreneurship.

Co-op America might sound like it is for commune-dwelling, neo-hippies, but in fact red-blooded entrepreneurs with green hearts are right at home in this community of green businesses. You can read some of the presentations given at Co-op America’s most recent Green Business Conference. And, Co-op America’s site also includes interviews with eco entrepreneurs, so you can benefit from their pioneering experiences.

Don’t forget the SBA. Some of the most challenging issues (budgeting, financing, cash flow, just to name a few) that all entrepreneurs face are usually the most difficult issues for eco entrepreneurs too. In addition to providing information and training, SBA loans can be great deals in terms of interest rates and qualifying criteria. Did you know that, as long as your business occupies over 50% of a building, you can buy it with an SBA loan? Buy it and green it!

What are your favorite resources for entrepreneurs? Please let us know.

About the Author

A strategy and marketing consultant, Leah enjoys highlighting the efforts of, and providing information for, social entrepreneurs. In her consulting practice, she works with cause-related businesses and enlightened investors--to see people succeed at doing good for the planet and local communities while doing good for themselves. Leah has a B.S. in business from UC Berkeley and an MBA and Certificate of Public Management from Stanford University. More information at www.leahedwards.com