Posts Tagged ‘green startup’

How to Find the Green Business Opportunity that Works for You: The RISE Report

Saturday, May 16th, 2009


People often ask me “What green business can I start?”  It’s a simple question, but unfortunately the answer is not always as simple, particularly when we’ve just met and I don’t know someone’s background.  Opportunities in many industries are waiting for entrepreneurs to build businesses providing green solutions, but which one will work for you? 



There are limitless possibilities.  Some people look at my book “75 Green Businesses” and ask, “Why just 75?”  The 75 in the book are a starting point – the truth is that the opportunities for green businesses are too numerous too count. 



While green business opportunities are numerous and diverse, they are not one size fits all.  You need to find the one that will work for you, looking inward and looking around you.  We each possess unique skills, experiences, knowledge, and interests that we bring to bear on challenges we face like starting a business.  We also have external resources like our money and time that we can commit that will impact the decisions we make and the paths we take.



I think the trick is finding the right match between an opportunity and your own unique resources.  To do this I recommend doing a RISE evaluation, a Resource Inventory Self Evaluation, which looks at the following:



  • What professional experience do you have?
  • What internal resources do you have to offer (skills, knowledge, talents, and personality)?
  • What external resources do you have to work with (time, money, equipment, office space, car)?
  • Where are you geographically and what kind of opportunities are there in your region?
  • What excites you?



For each of these questions, write down the answers.  Try to view things with a fresh perspective.  When you have the answers in hand, the path to the right business opportunity should be much clearer.



Your professional experience is an important starting point, getting out your resume to go over it.  If you haven’t looked at your resume recently, then it’s time.  Where have you worked, and what did you do there?  Even if you are looking for a change, your experience is a valuable resource that should not be neglected and can be a perfect starting point.  Are you a landscaper?  You could easily build on your landscaping experience to create a green landscape maintenance business, for example.  Are you an electrician?  There is a clear path to working in the renewable energy industry.  Practically every business has a green version that has already happened or is waiting to happen.



Your internal resources are also important, including the combined skills, knowledge, talents, and other traits that you carry within.  You might not think often about these, but they can shape a great deal of how you respond to the world.  Some of these will come from your professional experience, but this component of your inventory can come from anywhere.  Your hobbies and your home life can provide skills and experiences that you may not always consider but can be quite valuable when viewed with a fresh perspective.  Are you mechanically skilled?  Perhaps repairing things is the way to go as part of the growing conserver economy, saving resources and money by giving appliances a second life.



External resources are a solid factor shaping the choices you make.  We are all familiar with the role that money on the opportunities you will pursue.  Some opportunities like putting together a blog site can be bootstrapped for very little money, while other opportunities such as developing a new solar technology require millions of dollars to pursue.  Time is another important factor.  Even if you are busy, the trick is not too say you are too busy to get started with a business, but to find a way to at least carve out a small amount of time to take the first few steps forward. 



Next, where do you live?  Green opportunities are everywhere, but it is not necessarily the same opportunities that are ready to take off in different places across the US and around the world.  Is water the big issue where you live?  Does your community provide unique incentives or resources that might help you out?  Is there a listing of green businesses such as Greenopia for your community?  Take a look to see what others are doing, and get out and talk to people at an EcoTuesday or Green Drinks event. 



Finally, think about what you love.  If you are going to pour yourself into creating your business, its best if it’s something that you care deeply about.  Pursuing an opportunity that is profitable is important, but lacking passion your business can become drudgery.



With the RISE evaluation in hand, you can return to the “75 Green Businesses” book or opportunities you see in the world with a fresh perspective, ready to connect yourself and create your own unique path forward. 


Glenn Croston is the author of “75 Green Businesses”, providing green opportunities for people from any background.  He is also the author of “Greening Your Business on a Budget”, the founder of Starting Up Green (, and the green business expert blogger for Fast Company.  To find the opportunity that works for you, you can contact Croston to get started on your own RISE evaluation today.