Archive for the ‘Getting Capital’ Category

How to Start Your Own Green Business- “Starting Green”

Friday, October 30th, 2009

When it comes to the environment it often seems like we only hear about the problems we face.  And there are problems, to be sure, big ones, but these problems also present us with opportunities to provide solutions.  My books, blogs and site are all designed to show the way forward for businesses to deliver these solutions, including my recently released book “Starting Green: An Ecopreneur’s Toolkit to Start a Green Business – From Business Plan to Profits”. 


My book “75 Green Businesses” took all of these environmental problems and turned them around to show the many opportunities they hold.  Looking at how we produce energy, build homes, produce food, provide services, use water, and take care of waste, “75 Green Businesses” highlights the many opportunities for greener, cleaner, businesses can provide solutions and build strong businesses as well.


One of the comments people often have about “75 Green Businesses” is that they want more detailed instructions to move from vision to profitable business.  That’s where “Starting Green” comes in, picking up where “75 Green Businesses” left off.  “Starting Green” is the how-to guide to make these businesses a reality, providing insight into the green angle on business fundamentals like planning, marketing, and raising capital, and talking in more depth about the hottest green business opportunities today, including solar, energy efficiency, franchises, direct sales, and retail. 


I got the chance to talk to a great number of outstanding green leaders while working on the book, for which I am extremely grateful.  These are people who are unique not only in their commitment to building a better world, but in their demonstration over and over again that green businesses really can be both successful and profitable.  In talking with green leaders like Gary Hirshberg, CE-Yo of Stonyfield Farm, and Hunter Lovins, co-author of Natural Capitalism, I was reminded how they have paved the way for so many others.  An increasing number of businesses in a wide range of industries are following the green business path every day.  And if they can do it, so can you.


Here’s the Table of Contents of “Starting Green”, to give you a taste.  You can also use the “Look Inside” function on Amazon to browse through, or Google books, to see more of what it has to offer:


Preface:       How to Join the Great Green Upswing                                      


Chapter 1:    Welcome to the Green Revolution

Chapter 2:     RISE to the Opportunity

Chapter 3:     From Green Dreams to Open Doors

Chapter 4:     Finding Money to Start and Grow Your Business

Chapter 5:     How to Green Your Business Operations and Facilities

Chapter 6:     Green Marketing and Communications

Chapter 7:     The Role of Government - Carrots and Sticks

Chapter 8:     How to Start a Green Franchise

Chapter 9:     How to Start an Energy Efficiency Business     

Chapter 10:   How to Start a Green Retail Business

Chapter 11:   How to Start a Renewable Energy Business

Chapter 12:   How to Start a Direct Sales Business: Small, Green, and Beautiful

Conclusion:    The Conserver Economy and Beyond



Here’s what some of the green leaders have to say about “Starting Green”:


“Glenn Croston’s Starting Green is the indispensable guide for the entrepreneur of the 21st Century. Croston’s extensive research and incredible examples will illuminate the incredible opportunities within Green Business. Even as a green business owner for the past two decades, I drew countless ideas and inspiration from this book.”

-Eric Corey Freed, principal of organicARCHITECT, author of Green Building & Remodeling for Dummies


“We face great challenges today in our economy and environment, but the shift toward sustainability offers even greater opportunities. Starting Green gives you the tools to join this revolution with a business of your own. The business case for sustainability is clear; what we need now is action. This book will help you pave the way forward and thrive.”

-Hunter Lovins, Co-author of Natural Capitalism, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and president and founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions


“The emerging green economy offers a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators, building everything from green-minded service providers to breakthrough products and technologies. Glenn Croston has created a valuable roadmap that can help find the profitable opportunity that’s right for you.”

-Joel Makower, executive editor of, and author of Strategies for the Green Economy


I hope you’ll give it a look, and join in with the growing number of people changing how they do business to help build a more sustainable economy, profitable businesses, and a healthy world for us all to share. 

Talk to you soon.

SBIR Grants for New Environmental Technologies

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Everybody needs money to get their business off the ground, and this is truer than ever lately, with some of the traditional funding channels drying up or frozen.  A fair number of people contact me looking for funding opportunities, so I thought I would share this opportunity for small businesses to apply for SBIR grants from the EPA and NSF.  The information is from the National Center for Environmental Research at the EPA, forwarded by Byron Kennard, Executive Director of the Center for Small Business and the Environment in Washington DC. 

Expanded Funding for New Environmental Technologies

Nearly $200 million funding is currently available from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) for small businesses to grow, add workers, and expand into new markets.  This unique opportunity can be accessed by small businesses through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs at both agencies. Companies with fewer than 500 employees are eligible to apply to both EPA and NSF, although they can only accept funding from one source. The EPA’s SBIR Phase I solicitation opens on March 19, 2009, and closes on May 20, 2009.  A total of $70,000 is available in funding for each EPA Phase I award. The NSF’s SBIR Phase I solicitation is now open and will close on June 9, 2009.  Phase I funding is $150,000 per award.

For information on EPA environmental technology needs and application requirements, visit  For information on the NSF’s SBIR Program, visit the NSF Web site at:










Green Money: Person-to-Person Lending with Prosper

Friday, September 5th, 2008

One common concern among entrepreneurs is raising money they need to advance their company from startup to small business and beyond.  Small amounts of money can sometimes make a big difference for businesses early in their development, but money can be hard to find in today’s credit crunch.  Even quite credit-worthy businesses are finding small business loans hard to come by, or that loans are offered at much higher interest rates than expected.  Many have turned to credit cards to finance their ventures, and paid the price in the long run.  There are other ways to get access to money though, including person-to-person lending. 


In person-to-person lending, also called peer-to-peer lending, money is loaned by individuals, unlike bank loans.  Prosper is the largest person-to-person lending marketplace in the US, and has helped to mediate over $170 million in loans so far.  Borrowers make a loan listing for any use, and lenders bid for loans, driving down the rate.  Bids with the lowest rates are combined into one loan.  The purpose of loans can include using them for small businesses, although all loans are created as personal loans.  The size of loans ranges up to $25,000, providing an alternative to small business loans or credit cards.  Since Prosper is not a bank, they have actually seen their business increase even as traditional lending from banks dries up.


Prosper does not specifically target green entrepreneurs, but green businesses looking for small loans may fare well in this system.  Lenders in the Prosper system usually want to know how the money will be spent by borrowers, and are attracted to lend to borrowers like green entrepreneurs, helping to lower interest rates and attract money for these loans.  Lenders in Prosper can look at more than just a credit score to make their decisions.  A survey of lenders in Prosper found that 93% of lenders are interested in lending for green projects, and that 25% of lenders have bid on these projects.  Most banks on the other hand do not consider whether a business is green or not when considering a loan. 


I recently talked with Mike Arquin, founder of The KidWind Project, about borrowing through Prosper to help move his business forward.  KidWind is producing and selling educational materials like wind turbine kits for students and teachers, as well as providing training and curriculum materials about wind and other forms of renewable energy.  When they needed money for the development of new products, making injection molds, Mike found after exploring bank loans that the rates and terms with Prosper were very attractive.  “It was seven days and we got the money,” Mike said when I spoke with him.  Now, five years into the company, they are tripling in size each year and have ten people working for KidWind.  Person-to-person lending may not work for everyone, but it’s good to have another option available when you need money to grow your green business.