Posts Tagged ‘green entrepreneur’

Green B2B Listings on Starting Up Green

Friday, April 24th, 2009

One of the best parts about writing “75 Green Businesses” and working on the Starting Up Green site ( is the great group of green entrepreneurs I get to talk to.  Some are starting and building their business and can use some help working through the challenges they encounter along the way.  Others provide goods and services other businesses need, just what green entrepreneurs are looking for to realize their vision of making money and making a difference. 


I’m building Starting Up Green as the meeting place for these two groups, where green businesses providing services and those who need them can find each other and connect, helping each other out. 


What kind of services do people need and where can they find them? 


  1. Opportunities – One place to look is my book “75 Green Businesses”, and another is the great book by Scott Cooney, “Build a Green Small Business”.
  2. Green Operations – Make your website carbon neutral with, or make your whole business carbon neutral with Terrapass.
  3. Marketing and Public Relations – See the recent posting “Promises, Promises - Hiring the Right PR Firm” by David Mleczko, Co-founder of SignatureGreen Public Relations and Marketing
  4. Financing – For loans less than $25,000,  peer to peer lending with Lending Club
  5. Banking – Green banking with ShoreBank Pacific, or New Resources Bank
  6. Legal – As the first certified green law firm Wendel, Rosen, Black, & Dean can provide unique assistance to other green businesses.
  7. Insurance – Green Business Insurance specializes in meeting the insurance needs of green businesses, recognizing the unique advantages
  8. Recruiting – As a business grows, it often needs to recruit new talent to reach the next level.  Dawn Dzurilla of Gaia Human Capital Consulting makes it happen.  


You can always Google and work your network to find all of these pieces and sort through them, but having everything in one place makes it easier.  If you have a service, get in touch with me to get listed on the Starting Up Green site.  If you are looking for a service, check out Starting Up Green or get in touch with me by email – many people and businesses I’ve talked to are not listed on the site yet. 


Most of all, keep on greening.




Glenn Croston is the author of “75 Green Businesses You Can Start to Make Money and Make a Difference“, the founder of Starting Up Green (, the expert blogger on green business for Fast Company, and the author of “Starting Up Green” coming out this fall, a how to guide to green business success.

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:



























“Stirring it Up” by Green Entrepreneur Gary Hirshberg

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

For decades Gary Hirshberg has been a true leader of the green business world, producing top notch yogurt that is tasty, healthy for consumers, and good for the environment.  As the Ce-YO of the organic yogurt producer Stonyfield Farm, he has proven that making money and doing the right thing can and do go hand in hand.  For any of the doubters still remaining out there, questioning whether green business works, all they have to do is see what Gary and other’s have done.  The proof is in the yogurt.  The Stonyfield website tells the story of their sustainability efforts: (

Gary Hirshberg chronicles his journey and the lessons he learned in his book “Stirring It Up”:

This book is a great read on many levels.  First off, it’s just plain well written, engaging, and a good read.  Second, Gary does not just tell us what the problem us, but shows many examples, himself included, of how entrepreneurs can successfully build businesses that do the right thing for the planet. 

Finally, the lessons he describes are valuable for present and future eco-entrepreneurs. 

For example, Gary emphasizes quality as the key feature of their yogurt.  By never sacrificing quality, and being committed to the environment as well, they created a loyal base of customers who spread the word about their product and kept coming back for more.  He describes this as “the handshake”, reaching out to each consumer and forming a unique link that stays with them, connecting them to the brand.  Having a brand they can believe in helps, one that allows consumers to feel as though they are also part of the story, helping to make the change.  By focusing on their product, and how it is made, Stonyfield does not have to spend the massive sums on advertising that many food products do, decreasing their costs so they can continue to produce a great product rather than cutting corners to spend more on ads.

Which isn’t to say that Stonyfield doesn’t promote themselves - they just find clever and relatively low cost ways to do it, reaching out to their consumers through avenues other than expensive media ads.  Their lids always tell a story, and when money was precious they grabbed attention by bringing camel manure to disc jockeys or by pumping tires to help people save fuel. 

The efforts at Stonyfield, and at the other companies profiled, include waste reduction, using renewable energy, cutting carbon emissions, energy efficiency, using organic material, and many other ways to go green.  Their promotional efforts extend beyond the yogurt they sell to promoting a greener way of doing business and living.

The bottom line is that Gary and the other green entrepreneurs in Stirring It Up have built a variety of businesses in many fields while helping the planet.  And if they have done it, you can too.