Green Dreams: Resources for Green Business Planning

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Welcome back to Green Dreams! This is my second post in a series following my journey starting a green graphic design firm. Go back to post #1 to get the full scoop.

Green Business HomeworkBefore you start a business of any kind, there is a lot of planning and research to be done. If you do your homework, you will have a better chance at getting your business off the ground. Unfortunately for designers, business classes usually aren’t a required part of design curricula, so a lot of us creative types have to learn as we go along. Lack of business sense is also the reason many creative start-ups fail. So, in my efforts to avoid that, I’ve been doing lots of homework and research on how to run a business.

Being fiercely independent, I have always known that someday I wanted to run my own business and work for myself. It’s one of the reasons I decided to study graphic design. But since college didn’t really prepare me for running a business, I have spent the last couple of years reading and researching not only how to start and run a business, but how to do it sustainably. What follows is a long list of resources that have been helpful to me.

Books on Starting a Design Business

  • The Business Side of Creativity by Cameron S. Foote: this Creative Business guide is a comprehensive discussion of whether running your own business is for you, pricing, taxes, marketing & selling, and running a multi-person shop. A must-have resource for creative professionals.
  • The Savvy Designer’s Guide To Success by Jeff Fisher: this book is a general career success guide for designers, and a great resource for people new to the industry.
  • Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines: the authority on pricing and business practices. The GAG handbook is a great resource to have on your shelf.
  • Talent is not Enough: Business Secrets for Designers by Shel Perkins: a thorough look at design business issues.

Greening Your Office

  • The Green Office: a one-stop shopping resource for sustainable office supplies, furniture, electronics, and even carbon offsets.
  • Green Printer Online: a convenient way to learn about green printing options and order green printing services online. They also have an informative blog and resources to learn more about green printing technology.
  • Greener Printing and Greener Paper options have been covered previously on Green Options. Printing and paper are two areas that designers can make a big impact if they shop sustainably.
  • Sustainable Web Hosting Options: since every business needs a web site, you’ll want a green web host to make sure your site is as sustainable as possible.

Green Certification and Green Biz Networks

  • Green Business on Co-op America: Co-op America strives to harness economic power to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. They provide green businesses with a lot of resources to further that goal, such as a network of green businesses you can join, a green business newsletter, and their Green Business Conference.
  • Bay Area Green Business Program: If you’re in the Bay Area in California, check out BAGBP. They offer certification, business listings, local green biz resources, and green business tips.

Green Design + Business

  • The Sustainable Studio: this series on BoDo (The Business of Design Online) is a wonderful comprehensive look at running a sustainable design firm. Written by Jess Sand of Roughstock Studios, a certified green business, the series of articles covers a wide variety of topics from finding green vendors to saving money sustainably, and there’s more to come!
  • Organic Design Operatives’ Eco-Design Toolkit: this handy downloadable toolkit for designing greener projects includes calculators and worksheets that help you make your projects greener.
  • re-nourish: not so much focused on the business side of design, but re-nourish is an excellent resource for all things sustainable design. Learn how to make your work greener and be inspired by numerous green design case studies.

Business Basics

  • SBA Small Business Planner: this is not the most exciting read, but the US Small Business Administration has some great tips and resources for starting a small business.
  • IRS Small Business Resource: taxes and finances are also rather boring to read about, but an essential part of running a business. Get tax info from the source, the IRS.
  • StartUpNation: a great resource for entrepreneurs and start-ups. One of their new features is a wonderful guide called 9 Steps to Greening Your Business.

Well, that should certainly be enough homework to get you started! My plan has been to gather as much information as possible before I really get started on business planning. Of course, there is a lot of info out there, so absorbing it all has proven to be quite the task! I will of course want to continue my business education as I go about the planning process and even after my business has officially opened its doors. Hopefully this list of resources gives you a platform for learning and starting your own green business. Please add to this list by leaving a comment with your own recommended reading. Knowledge is power. And in the business world, knowledge is money! So, it’s time to hit the books!

About the Author

I grew up camping and hiking in the woods of Idaho, leading to a connection with and deep respect for nature. I recently moved to the Mendocino coast in Northern California, where I was happy to find not only beautiful redwoods and beaches, but a high level of green consciousness. I am a graphic and web designer who focuses on making the world a better place through sustainable design and communication. I specialize in green design solutions for small businesses, non-profits, and activist organizations. When I'm not designing, I'm hiking, camping, traveling, taking pictures, blogging, and spending time with my boyfriend and our "fur-kids." You can find out more about me on my sites and blogs: my personal site, volksvegan.org, or unplug magazine.