Archive for February, 2009

Becoming a greenCoach with emagineGreen

Friday, February 27th, 2009

For a growing number of people changing our impact on the environment is not just about changing the things we buy, but changing how we live.   All through our day a hundred little things we do add up to a surprisingly large impact on the world around us, an impact that we are seldom aware of.   When people realize their impact, and are given simple tools to help them change, they are eager to do so.  EmagineGreen is helping entrepreneurial individuals to work as greenCoaches, bringing information and green solutions into people’s homes as a direct sales business.


EmagineGreen is focused on two missions, to help people go green and to create opportunities for entrepreneurial individuals.  GreenCoaches sell products directly to groups at home eco-parties, meeting people in their own environment and talking about simple relevant steps we can take to reduce our environmental impact at home.  To help people go green, they don’t just provide information though - they get people to act on this information.  “Every product we sell is hand-picked to change behavior,” said Tonya Ensign, founder of emagineGreen.  “If you don’t change behavior there’s no point in buying different products.  Why get a programmable thermostat if you don’t program it?” 


Joining emagineGreen as a greenCoach costs only $129 as of this writing and although they’ve only been signing up people the last ten months (as of Feb 2009), they already have greenCoaches in about half of the US, with more signing up all the time.  Not everybody will be right for the opportunity, so people are screened to make sure it’s a good fit for both emagineGreen and for the greenCoach.  To help them get started, emagineGreen provides training to help people learn about the green world. 


In addition to providing a selection of hand-picked products and information, emagineGreen takes care of all the business basics for the greenCoaches, including getting a business license, paying credit card fees, web hosting, and e-commerce setup.  Having this assistance lets each greenCoach enjoy their business rather than spending their time maintaining the operation.  Since it is their own business they can set their own calendar and make their own schedule – they don’t have to ask permission to take the day off. 


As a party plan company, they provide residual income and management training for some individuals.  With a couple of levels in the organization, people can advance and get experience mentoring others.  Green coaches come from many backgrounds.  “One segment is women who are stay-at-home moms, struggling to balance kids and career,” said Ensign.  Another group they see joining is women who want out of the corporate America, and are seeking something they can be passionate about, something they care about.  “They are very ambitious, and primed to be leaders and managers,” Ensign said.  “Another group is people who are entrepreneurial, and perhaps have started their own business before, like working in realty.  They see the potential of the timing for a business in the green world and know how to be a sole proprietor, how to market themselves.”


Ensign founded emagineGreen after years of working in corporate America for companies from Honeywell to startups. She knew she wanted to create a business to help the environment, but wasn’t sure what the business should be. “I thought through how I could get the message across.  For a website alone, I would need to generate a lot of traffic.  For manufacturing, there are large up-front costs for new product development and branding.  For a retail store, brick and mortar, I would have to deal with inventory expenses, retail space, and so on.  If you are a consultant, once you stop consulting you are done.  I wanted to create an opportunity where people have low startup costs, low risk, low inventory, and where we would take the hassle out of the business for people.”


As an executive coach, she realized what it takes to make real behavioral change.  Like Jenny Craig and similar organizations, change is not just information, but having a support structure and creating camaraderie.  As a party planning business, the key to change is meeting people directly, teaching them about the importance of environmental choices, demonstrating options for greener choices, and selling them directly.  “Education and demonstration are the key,” said Ensign.  Their model is a well known one, like Pampered Chef, one of Warren Buffet’s investments.  Other examples are Rubber Stamper or Creative Memories, all of whom are now large successful party planning businesses in mature fields. 


The difference for emagineGreen is that the field of green is still wide open for most people.  “Most people still don’t know much about green, so for these products it’s still a big opportunity,” said Ensign.  “It will be ten years before it’s really mainstream, and we’re poised to take advantage.”  Most of the products are targeted for women.  “Women are the ones who do most of the spending for household products,” Ensign said. 


Meeting people and talking directly with them is essential, providing the personal touch.  “The key is to get into people’s houses,” said Ensign.  “People just don’t know that it takes seven bottles worth of water to make every water bottle they buy in the store.  They’re shocked when they hear we use a million plastic bags a minute.  We talk for 20 minutes and then they say, ‘What can I do?’  They can buy bottles, bags, or other products that fit what they are looking for, for their health, for the environment, or to save money. “   emagineGreen talks about which habits the clients want to break, and tie each product to a behavior to change.  To reduce paper towel use, they connect it to buying bamboo towels that are reusable. 


In addition to knowing that emagineGreen is a direct sales party planning company, it’s also good to know what emagineGreen is not – it’s not a pyramid or MLM.  In MLM organizations, “about 3% of people are team leaders, and the rest are customers on auto-ship programs.  People think they’re going to get rich quick, but very few do.”


And with a big opportunity at stake, with millions of consumers ready to buy green and green going mainstream, emagineGreen is ready to grow.  “We’re internally funded, no debt, and we’ve invested in the systems, people and model so we can grow rapidly and take on a lot more people,” said Ensign. 


To find out more check the emagineGreen website at:



























What’s in the Stimulus Package (so far) For Small, Green Businesses

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 passed by the House of Representatives includes a number of important incentives to help both small businesses and green businesses.  While the bill has yet to make it through the Senate, it’s still worth a look to see what might be on the way.  Those businesses that are both small and green may see a double dose of support coming their way. 



Small businesses generate most of the jobs, and create a great deal of the innovation that drives economic growth.  According to the National Small Business Association, small businesses created 21.9 million jobs in the last 15 years, compared with 1.8 million for large businesses.  Small businesses are hungry, move quickly, and are able to experiment.  Out of economic necessity, a great number of people are starting businesses.  When you have little to lose, the risk of starting a business seems not so great.  Having some financial support will help small businesses keep their doors open, and keep on innovating to get our economy growing again. 



This time around green businesses are also receiving important attention in a variety of measures included in the House version of the bill.  Throughout his campaign Obama pledged to support the growth the green economy, and in the early days of his administration he appears to be true to his word.  With the green economy poised to become one of the major engines of economic growth in this century, these investments will help both the environment and the economy, creating green economy businesses that create high quality green collar jobs.



As the Executive Director of the Center for Small Business and the Environment in Washington DC, Byron Kennard is right in the thick of things, working to ensure that small, green businesses get the important support that they need.  His summary of the support for small businesses in the current package includes $30 billion in tax relief for small businesses and $13 billion in loans, lines of credit and equity capital.  The provisions include:

  • Increasing the SBA guarantee on loans up to 95% of loan value
  • Steps to improve the liquidity of small business lending markets
  • Allowing the SBA to refinance existing loans, including both those with the SBA and other loans
  • Increasing equity capital for high growth businesses
  • Lending assistance for borrowers locked out of traditional financing markets
  • Tax relief in several forms


The stimulus package also contains significant new support to drive the growth of green businesses, including a variety of incentives to drive the growth of renewable energy, stimulate energy efficiency efforts, and update the national electrical grid.  President Obama is calling for the production of renewable energy to double in the next 3 years, continuing its rapid growth.  Among the provisions in the over $800 House version of the stimulus package:


  • $10 billion to weatherize low-income homes, saving energy
  • $8 billion to increase the efficiency of government and military buildings
  • $7 billion in energy efficiency grants by state governments
  • $11 for the updated electrical smart grid
  • $8 billion in new electrical lines for the improved electrical grid
  • $8 billion in loans for renewable energy projects
  • $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research
  • $2 billion for advanced battery research


The stimulus package is not a done deal yet, with a Senate version of the bill still in the works.  At the end of the day, maybe getting the economy back on the same old track is not the goal.  Maybe getting the economy on a better track is the way to go.  Small, green businesses are laying track leading forward to a better future.