Eco-friendly business: a step-by-step guide to starting your own

Eco-friendly business guide breadcrumbs

You’re here, about to read a guide that walks you, step-by-step, through creating a business whose primary goal is not profit, but purpose.

So it’s probably safe to assume that you’re well aware of the social, cultural, and environmental issues going on.

No need to take a ride down doom-n-gloom lane.

Save the planet. Work from anywhere. The beauty of eco-friendly businesses.

What we do want to talk about is this incredible period of time we are now a part of. A time where humanity is becoming increasingly conscientious of its impact on the world around us.

It’s a time where having a purpose isn’t just a nice thing to put on your about page, but is crucial for connecting with the droves of Millennial / Gen Z consumers that are driving this incredible cultural shift.

That being said, making a profit is also hugely important. It drives innovation, which makes sustainable goods more accessible for the masses, and puts money in your pocket so you can skip the fast fashion retailers and afford that new pair of repurposed Nike’s 😉

Why NOW is the PERFECT time to start a eco-friendly business

  1. Trust in massive brands is at an all time low (hello, greenwashing), opening the door for niche competition with a purpose driven approach
  2. We have solid data to prove sustainability is the path forward ->

Check out these stats from CGS’s 2019 Retail and Sustainability Survey

  • 68% consider a products sustainability before making a purchase
  • 47% are willing to pay at least 25% more for a sustainable product 
    • The subset of Gen Z are willing to pay 50-100% more as compared to the other age groups!
  • 51% are loyal to brands with a sustainable/ethical mission or business practices
  • Fortune business insights predicts the sustainability market to grow at a rate of 20.6% (compound annual growth rate), from $13.76 billion in 2022 to $51.09 billion by 2029!

You’re convinced, right? It’s time to start your own eco biz?

Oh, and did we mention that you’ll be working your own hours from anywhere in the world? It’s pretty cool (as I coolly sip my Fritz Cola at a German cafe).

running eco-friendly business from abroad

That being said, building a eco startup requires much more attention to detail than starting any other biz. Your messaging has got to be one point. Your supply chains have to be legit. Your product truly has be better.

Simply buying things, like the fabric to design a shirt – or services, like web hosting – use resources, which is inherently unsustainable, and conscious consumers are getting realllllly good at picking out any fluff.

This guide is all about figuring out what aspects of sustainability interest you most, finding ways to incorporate those into a business, and turning that dream into a reality!

From choosing a sustainable business model, funding your startup, to reaching your conscious consumers.

Firstly, what is a eco-friendly business?

What is an eco-friendly business?

An eco-friendly business is one that considers the triple bottom line (TBL), or the three P’s.

People

Planet

Profit

eco-friendly business focus on planet people profit

Sustainability by definition is “the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level”, but when people and the planet are left out, it’s simply not possible.

There is only so much forest area to exploit…only so many fish in the sea…as they say.

The problem with business-as-usual is that when profit is the primary goal, the expectation will always be growth. Unfortunately, there comes a point where infinite growth meets head-to-head with finite resources.

Those external issues, those are called externalities, we wrote a whole thing about why they are unsustainable and a better path forward, here.

Here’s the incredibly good and inspiring news; this market is so new that the majority of this market share will come from businesses that have yet to be launched and products that are yet to be invented.

If you have the mindset that “everything is already invented”, well, that’s partly true, but it’s also a good thing.

Think about it this way.

Dropps approach to the Triple Bottom Line

Imagine a company started selling a product that lets you extract tree sap, refine it on the spot, and use it as laundry detergent. Would you use it?

At first glance, we’d be skeptical. It’d be great to not buy a packaged detergent and all, but does it hurt the trees, what chemicals are being used to refine, what will it do to my clothes? There are so many questions to answer that communicating your USP (unique selling proposition) without a huge marketing effort would be tough.

Dropps took a more simple approach.

They noticed that consumers were tired of the classic chemically derived detergents and opted to just make a better option. Instead of creating something new, they just proved that an industry could be done better.

Problem: I don’t want to use chemically derived detergents or single use plastics

Solution: Dropps is a detergent that doesn’t use chemicals or plastics.

No need to complicate it.

Still not convinced that being an ecopreneur is for you, here are some eco-friendly business ideas that may light a fire in your belly

Eco-friendly business ideas for budding social entrepreneurs

Are you crafty? Good with your hands? imaginative? Here are some ideas for your eco biz.

Coming up with a business idea is relatively easy. Just think about a problem you, your friends, or your community have with a certain product or service, then come up with solution that’s better than “business as usual”.

Eco-friendly business ideas for students

Whether you’re currently in school, daydreaming about the change you could make, or getting ready to step out into the workforce, there are a bunch of things you could do.

It all starts with finding out what you’re passionate about and diving head first.

Try this.

Grab a pen and some paper.

On one piece of paper, write down 10 things that interest you.

Throughout your day, if you notice something that drives you crazy, like garbage in the recycling can or a plume of black smoke coming from a massive truck, write those things down on another piece of paper.

At the end of the day, look over your two lists. Does anything line up?

Were you passionate about designing something, and also noticed that you went crazy whenever you saw that plume of smoke? Better example? Could you design some stickers to raise awareness?

Still stuck, here are sustainable business ideas for students

  • Marketing expert for sustainable businesses exclusively (hey, want a job? 😉 )
  • Clothing up-cycler
  • Product repair
  • Sustainable events designer
  • Bicycle repair

If these ideas are close to hitting home, but not quite there, here is a list of 45 green business ideas for aspiring entrepreneurs..

Or maybe you’re already working a 9-5 and dread the fact that you could be there for another 30 years? If that sounds like you, here are some sustainability business ideas for those that feel stuck.

Eco-friendly business ideas for those stuck at a full time job

Have you been stuck at a full time job knowing you could be doing something with more impact?

Some of the most successful businesses are created from employees that worked somewhere but knew what they were doing could be done better.

In fact, having that insider knowledge will be a huge head start for our SWOT analysis section coming up here soon.

If you don’t like anything about your job, let’s get you unstuck.

Let’s go with the same exercise we laid out for students.

Grab a pen and some paper.

What are you passionate about? Write down 10 things.

Take another sheet with you during your day. Write down anything that drives you crazy.

Now put those both on the same sheet of paper, passions on the left, what drives you crazy on the right.

Are there any overlaps? Anything that you noticed could be done better? You may be on to something.

Still need some inspiration?

Here are sustainable business ideas for those stuck at a full time job

  • Composting business
  • Air duct cleaning
  • Tailor (fix instead of buying new)
  • Permacultureist
  • Upgraded Dry Cleaning business

Now that we have some ideas in mind, let’s figure out what kind of sustainability business model you want to go with.

Choosing your eco-friendly business model

What makes a business eco-friendly and sustainable?

Simply put, sustainability includes anything that does not compromise the ability for future generations to meet their needs.

The goals and benchmarks of sustainable solutions should focus on what we can do to ensure that the resources necessary for our species to flourish do not compromise the planet or our future.

These benchmarks should be thought of in all aspects of your business. From the carbon footprint of your website, to the shipping of physical products across the ocean.

Considering there are so many different aspects of a business that need a sustainable approach, there is a foundation that has been set up to help ensure these benchmarks are reached. Here are the components of a sustainability business.

The components of a eco-friendly business model

The tiers of a sustainability business

Tier 1 is about profit

Tier 2 is supply chain (slightly sustainable)

Tier 3 is the most common sustainability business

Tier 4 aims to reshape society

Basically, there are four different “tiers” of sustainability.

These are differentiated by their systems, strategies, principles for success, and tools.

A Tier 1 business is your classic for-profit business. Its focus is the bottom line. And that’s the bottom line.

Tier 2 businesses start looking at the bigger picture; the supply chain, product life cycle, business efficiencies, resources used, and entry level environmental tools, like LEED and LCA (Life Cycle Assessment). Tier 2 is minimally sustainable.

Tier 3 businesses are the most common “sustainable business”. They consider the global systems used by their business, define success by profit AND sustainable practices, and implement advanced sustainability tools; like the Sustainable Management Systems (SMS) and Cradle to Cradle Manufacturing (C2C).

Tier 4 businesses focus heavily on their impact. They are the businesses eligible to become benefit corps & B Corporations.

The B Corporations

They consider all systems in their business; from the labor practices at their production facilities to the amount of time their employees spend commuting to work. These businesses aim to reshape society and know that sustainable practices are not only necessary for our future, but necessary for success in today’s business environment. A lot of these types of businesses are non-profits, but some are for-profit…like Econus!…or Patagonia.

The goal of becoming an eco-preneur is to either mitigate environmental issues or to address their consequences. So, by nature, an eco-first biz must be either a Tier 3 or Tier 4 business.

But remember, a sustainable business isn’t just for others, it must also be sustainable for you. A big problem in the ecopreneur world is burnout. When you want to solve a problem so bad that you give it your (literal) all, and 12-18 months later you’d do anything to go back to a 9-5 to take the paycheck and check out.

So when creating your business, remember that each requires a different set of skills, resources, and life commitments. It’s important to ensure that whatever path you want to follow, that it fits in with the lifestyle you’re hoping to build.

There are three main types of business you can start; an online business, service-based business, or product-based business.

Let’s go over each of them, alongside their pros and cons, starting with the online business model.

The online business model

Did you know that by the year 2040, 95% of purchases will be through eCommerce?

The online business model is fantastic for first time ecopreneurs because it has the lowest barrier of entry, requires the least amount of financial commitment, and can reach massive amounts of people. It’s perfect for anyone trying to start a business on the side or with limited resources.

Examples of online ecopreneur businesses include:

  • Blogging
  • Eco influencer
  • Podcasting
  • Publishing book
  • Digital products
  • App or Saas

It’s estimated that 63% of the human population (~5 billion people) now connect to the internet in some way. This makes it the most easy and efficient way to connect with potential customers.

What separates online businesses

Online business typical have the potential to educate, influence, and empower others to embrace sustainability in their own lives and businesses.

And while its eco-footprint is definitely lower, there are still some things you’ll need to address when it comes to establishing yourself as a Tier 3 or Tier 4 business.

If you’re building an app, your questions could look like this: “Where is my app being stored? What is their carbon footprint?” “What is the purpose of my app? Does it encourage others to buy more random things, or is its purpose to make the world a more sustainable place?” (this seems like a logical place to plug our app, Econus, which offsets an individuals impact with micro donations. Smooth placement, right? 😉 )

Maybe you’re hoping to start up a blog? Where is your domain being hosted? What is their footprint?

At Econus, we use GreenGeeks, who offset their energy usage by 300%.

The service based business model

For those that like working with others, or solving some blatant issues (like our incredibly inefficient recycling system), the service-based model is for you.

Service-based models have massive opportunities to fix broken systems. Like the aforementioned recycling system, mending and repurposing worn clothes, refilling old pens, etc etc.

Basically anything that was built with an end-of-life, you could create a service based business for and make it closed-loop. Closed-loop meaning that a product is created, reused and repurposed, until it’s to a point where it moves further down the cycle.

If you’re looking to make a product that is inherently unsustainable, the product-based model may be for you.

The product-based business model

This business model is generally the most expensive and time-consuming, but with the right plan for funding, you could start a product-based business fresh out of school.

It can be a little tricky to create a truly sustainable product, as manufacturing something new — regardless of how “eco-friendly” it is — is inherently unsustainable.

If you want to be able to say that your business is truly sustainable, you must aim to produce value in the same manner which an ecosystem does: neither producing waste nor consuming unsustainable resources.

The eco-friendly business catch 22

Herein Lies the issues, it’s really difficult to make a product that isn’t destined for a landfill at some point.

But the point of creating a sustainability business isn’t to be perfect, it’s to slowly start moving the needle towards sustainable. If your product has a shelf life that’s twice as long as your competition, and you start gaining market share on said competitor, at some point they will have to put some research & development (R&D) dollars towards matching your products lifecycle.

Cradle to Cradle (C2C)  is a great way to look at a product’s full lifecycle and implement tools to ensure your product is as sustainable as possible.

Once they match you, maybe you’ve figured out a way to increase the product shelf-life by another 25%…thus continuing the cycle. Slowly but surely!

Or, better yet, you could create something so revolutionary that a large corporation picks it up and takes you straight to success!

Here’s an example, Eben Bayer created a sustainable packaging material that was made out of mushrooms and crop waste.

Shortly after its release, IKEA picked it up and took his company further than he could have ever imagined. We love this quote:

Solutions to sustainability problems don’t just need to focus on preventing further pollution, they can also be developed to help individuals deal with the consequences of unsustainability.

The time has come, let’s choose your sustainability business model!

How to choose your eco-friendly business model

While the traditional business model may have you considering questions like “what do I want to build” or “what do I want to accomplish”, a sustainable business model will ask questions like “what good do I want to do vs success”

Before we get into choosing which business model we’re going to go change the world with, let’s figure out how much you can actually put into this endeavor. We’ll need to figure things out like; how much time you have to commit, how much money do you need to live your life, what do you want out of it, and available resources (time, money, etc).

After all, if your business idea isn’t sustainable for you, how do you expect to see it through til the end?

Sure, you may be able to knock out some of your goals, but seeing a business through to success is tough. Like, insanely tough.

Most businesses fail, and those that do survive typically don’t see any cash flow for a few years. Can you manage it with the current life you’re living?

Here are a few 

We’ll be honest, starting a business is HARD, so you’ll want to think about about some of these questions before beginning:

  • Why am I starting this?
  • What do I hope to change?
  • How passionate about this am I?
  • What do I want my days to look like?
  • How much time am I willing to commit? (think daily, monthly, yearly)
  • How much risk can I handle
  • Do I have the money to sustain this? If so, for how long?
  • Am I ok with working with investors if need be?

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to start putting your plan into action!

Drafting a eco-friendly business plan

You now have a general idea of what your sustainability business will look like, why you’re starting it, and what you hope to achieve.

Now here comes the fun part, putting your dreams down on a piece of paper and making it all become reality.

Rule #1, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You’re going to have enough to do without having to become a graphic designer, business strategist, and sales expert all at once.

Use the tools and resources available to you.

For business plans & pitch decks, check out Canva …also, for branding, graphic design, social media, presentations, print…ok, we’ll stop…just check out Canva 😉

These templates will help you think through the answers to some important questions, like

  • What is a problem people need help solving?
  • What is my solution to solving their problem?
  • What does my competition look like?
  • What is it that makes my solution better than the competition?
  • Why would they choose my offering over another?
  • How will I get in front of my target audience?

One of the first things you’ll want to do is make sure the market you’re entering isn’t too saturated. Let’s get into that.

Analyzing your market and competition

We’re not going to get into the specifics of putting your business plan together, that’s what those Canva templates will do. But we will help you think through the important questions, the questions that will make drafting your biz plan easy breezy.

When it comes to starting a business, chances are you aren’t the first to think of an idea. 

And that is TOTALLY fine.

In fact, it’s probably better. It’s incredibly difficult to invent something completely new AND find a market that wants to pay you money for it.

Imagine the following scenario. Two companies, which interests you more?

Analyzing two eco-friendly businesses

Product 1: “We help conscious consumers live sustainably by offsetting the unintended consequences of the things they purchase”

Products 2: “We help sustainability businesses sell to and engage with conscious consumers”

Well, you are here reading this post about starting a sustainability businesses, so we have to imagine it’s #2. In fact, if you continue reading this, it’s proof that there is a problem and we are solving it.

The content on our website is meant to help you sell too conscious consumers. Econus, our consumer app, is meant to help you engage with them on a more meaningful level.

What is the problem? What is your solution to the problem?

Think about that over and over again.

A successful business figures out how to solve a problem for a group of people (your target audience). An unsuccessful (or short term) business looks for ways to convince people they need something.

As we mentioned earlier, buying things is inherently unsustainable, so convincing others to buy something they don’t need goes against the purpose of building a sustainable business!

Let’s continue with that example. The first step is figuring out if there are people interested in your product or service.

Market analysis

Let’s figure out the TAM / SAM / SOM

Is there a market? Great now, let’s figure out if it’s achievable. We’ll want to figure out what strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats there are.

This is a SWOT analysis.

SWOT analysis

Eco-friendly business SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis looks at your personal strengths and weaknesses (Internal) alongside the opportunities and threats that exist outside of your control (external).

Internal strengths would be things like your experience in design, or having managed small teams.

A weakness could be not understanding code, or not knowing how supply chains work.

External opportunities would be things like LinkedIn Learning (which is free with a library card!!), where you could learn how to code a website.

A threat could be something like a competitor having the financial resources to hire a developer.

Looking at the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats will help you better dial in on what you can do that will be better than what your competitors offer.

We’re starting to realize how we can help a group of people solve a problem, now what separates us from the competition?

Brand positioning

Eco-friendly business brand positioning

If you want to succeed as a small business, it’s all about niching down.

By that, we mean finding something that people want, and delivering that exact thing.

65% of new businesses fail within the first five years of being open.

It’s a two part problem:

  • Part 1 being they have to quit. This could be from financial, time, or loss of motivation (you can’t fail if you don’t quit!).
  • Part 2 is that they try to be everything to everyone and end up being nothing to anyone.

When analyzing your competition, look at the gaps that aren’t being filled and spend all of your time creating a way to fill that gap better than anyone else. That’s your niche.

Don’t try to be anything or anymore to anyone else until you start getting traction in that niche.

We are getting so close. We know there is a market, we know what we are capable of as a small startup, we know what niche we can fill in relation to our competition, now we need to know exactly who the person is that has a problem you’re going to solve.

Buyer Personas

You’re now around 50% of the way through this article, which means each section of this post is at least somewhat interesting, and / or helpful.

That’s because throughout our research we found out that people starting sustainability businesses are typically less corporate (thus our tone of voice), they may be tired of their current 9-5 or maybe a student trying to figure out what to do next (thus our guides on how to figure that out), and have yet to start their own business (thus this and the content to come).

You match our “ideal buyer Persona”, as they say.

You can do the research yourself by visiting the websites, social media accounts, etc of businesses attracting the people you are interested in, or you can check out a place like Fiverr.

Fiverr is an online marketplace for professionals all around the world. Instead of paying for software to research your ideal persona and spending the time learning how to use it, you could simply pay someone a small fee to do it all for you!

Here’s a fantastic post that’ll walk you through finding your ideal buyer persona.

So what is branding, and what is a brand strategy.

Building a brand strategy for eco-friendly businesses

What is it that intrigues you about this post?

Is it the content itself, the tone of voice used, the images?

The goal of branding is to create a cohesive public image.

At the beginning, if you’re running on a tight budget, you’re not going to be able to be everything to everyone.

Think about your social media feed. What is it that you see over and over? What’s the theme?

Let’s say the theme of your feed is landscape photography. You follow all the major accounts and hashtags. Your feed is full of beautiful pictures of places you want to go and camera tricks you want to try out.

Your favorite account is @landscapephotoguru because they are always posting pics of summer sunsets in the New York skyline. The captions are super helpful and tell you what camera was used, the ISO, aperture, and even time of day. They make it super easy to get out there and try it for yourself.

Staying consistent

Then, all the sudden, the only photos they post are of their kids learning ballet. Chances are, you, and most other followers will start tapping that unfollow button after the 13th consecutive recital photo.

At first, @landscapephotoguru had his brand dialed in, he was connecting with photography aficionados that loved sunsets in NYC, children at a ballet class, not so much. This would be a case of brand misalignment.

Everything from the tone of your voice down to the color palate are all important factors of your brand.

Here are some important aspects to consider putting your brand together 

  • Tone of voice
  • Color palette (we love Canva (obviously haha))
  • Channels

The hard part is now done. It’s time to get your business started!!

First steps first, let’s figure out how you’ll be paying for your sustainability business.

Funding your eco-friendly business

Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you may need just a little cash (blog) or a mountain of cash (product-based business) to get started.

While a blog could cost you a couple hundred dollars, a physical product taken from concept to distribution could cost well over $10,000 (for the first round alone).

But don’t let a big number scare you.

In 2022 alone, $12.9 billion was invested in sustainability businesses.

Sustainability is absolutely the place to be right now, and if your idea is good enough, funding won’t be an issue.

Based on the capital required to get your business up and running, here are some of the funding options at your fingertips.

Bootstrapping

Do you have cash money in the bank?

Can you keep your 9-5 while working on your business?

If so, you may be able to bootstrap your business! Bootstrapping is the best, you maintain ownership and total control over your product or service.

Once you give up a little control, it starts to be less about the good you can do and more about the green you are making.

Crowdfunding is another great option, though it’s a bit more hit or miss.

Crowdfunding

We’ve all seen the stories of businesses that launched on platforms like Kickstarter and raised a quick $250k.

You maintain ownership and control. It’s a beautiful thing.

Though, it takes much more work than just creating a campaign to bring in the cheddar. If you’re thinking about starting a crowdfunding campaign, here’s are some things you’ll want to consider first.

If bootstrapping is out of the question and your crowdfunding campaign isn’t really doing much, there is always venture capital and outside investment.

Venture capital and outside investment is great if you need a substantial influx of cash, or don’t have any other methods to funding.

Venture capital and investors

Unlike Kickstarter, which raises funds from the public, venture capital firms and angel investors are private entities.

If you’ve ever seen Shark Tank, you know exactly what kind of folks you’ll be working with if you go this route. Results driven, pedal to the metal, go-getters.

In the past, if you didn’t have a healthy ROI or roadmap that would seemingly take you to the promised land, you were SOL.

But things are definitely changing. There are a bunch of “for purpose” funds popping up.

Also, accelerators. These are intensive courses where you’ll learn more about business in 3 months than you would have in 3 years. They put you through the ringer and make sure your business is primed and ready to take off. At the end, you’ll typically pitch to a group of investors, who may or not choose to invest in your company. Pretty exciting stuff. Techstars is one of the biggest ones to check out.

So differences between venture capital, an angel investor, and accelerator programs. The key with these programs is that with each, you’ll no longer own your company and will have to report to other people.

Venture capital firms provide funds to small, early-stage companies that are either on the path, or can prove they have a path to success.

Let’s get into the sticks on launching and marketing a sustainability business.

Launching and marketing your eco-friendly business

Legal

In the end, the goal is to make money. Here’s how to do it, and do it legally

Understanding business structures

Who’s going to be involved in your business? What kinds of taxes will you have to pay? How much risk will you have?

These are all determined by your business structure

  • Sole proprietorship
  • General partnership
  • LLP
  • LLC
  • Corporation

Get to know each type of business structure and their responsibilities.

Once you know what structure works for you, it’s time to get registered!

Registering a business

It may sound daunting, but registering a business is actually pretty straightforward…and affordable.

Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Structure
  2. Location
  3. Registering
  4. Registering with iRS
  5. Registering with state/local
  6. Apply for licenses and permits

Congrats, you are all set up! Pat yourself on the back.

It’s time to start solving problems for people!

(again, your business will be successful if you solve problems for people, not sell them things). Here are the best Eco Marketing strategies for getting in front of the people with the problems you solve and conscious consumers!

Eco Marketing

Eco marketing is getting yourself in front of the people that have the problems you can solve.

The first step to doing so is securing a domain name and usernames that will be the “face” of your organization.

Securing domains and usernames

A domain name is your little place on the internet. Econusapp.com is our little spot, and as long as we pay the yearly dues, no one else can take it from us.

We’re connected to everyone on the internet because we pay a web hosting company, Green Geeks (who we mentioned earlier and will mention again), a monthly fee to store our files on their servers (also called our Domain Nameservers).

Compared to the real world, Econusapp.com is our home, and we pay Green Geeks (the equivalent of your city hall) a monthly fee to give us an address that others can find us at (like a real world state, city, zip, street address).

For SEO purposes (which we’ll dive into later), your domain name should be no longer than 17 characters and get the general idea of what you do across. 

Your usernames should be the same as your domain name on all platforms you’ll be targeting, so you’re not confusing any users. If the exact match is not possible, try finding a username that is the same across all social platforms.

You’ll want to store all of these in a safe location. We like to use Last Pass. It’s free and allows you to save unique, strong passwords for each site so you don’t get hacked.

Building a website

Now you’ll want to give yourself a web presence.

We’re here to build sustainable businesses, so we’ll want to make sure we’re doing that in the most sustainable way possible.

It’s estimated that the internet consumes around 416.2 TWh of electricity per year.

At Econus, we use GreenGeeks for our web hosting and database. They offset their footprint by 300%).

They make it super easy to set up your site. If you want step by step instructions on how to set up your site, here’s a post we made on building an eco-friendly website in 10 minutes.

We also wrote a bunch of other cool articles, like

Once we are online, we can start getting our website in front of people with digital marketing.

Digital marketing

We know what problems our business solves and we know who we’re solving the problems for. We’re a legal entity with a plan, funding, and an online presence.

Now it’s time to get in front of the people that have the problem that you solve.

But before you go sharing your message from the rooftops…actually…hold on, this could be a fun analogy.

Imagine you sell handcrafted upcycled clothing made from locally sourced recyclers. The price is higher, but based on your market research, you know people are willing to pay more for sustainable.

Your marketing strategy is to literally get on top of rooftops and tell people what you have.

Choosing a rooftop in Spain when you don’t speak Spanish probably won’t end well. But what if you chose a rooftop in the hip part of San Francisco.

English speaking ✅

High percentage of the population believing in the importance of sustainable fashion ✅

That San Francisco “rooftop”, that’d be the equivalent of getting on social media for a sustainable fashion company.

Social media marketing

Social media is the king when it comes to getting in front of Gen Z (and millennial).

New research shows that 98% of Gen Zs have a smartphone, and report using social media for more than 4 hours a day.

This study also shows that  97% of these users use social media as their top inspiration for shopping and 79% of those users are more likely to follow accounts with a sustainable mission

So step 1, meet them where they are.

In this case, social media. It’s 

Step 2, speak their language. That’s what content marketing & SEO are for.

Content marketing & SEO

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of telling the algorithm what you’re writing about and getting it in front of your target audience.

When it comes to social media optimization, hashtags are the gold standard for SEO. Did you know that the hashtag #amazonfinds on TikTok has more than 6.7 billion views 🤯

What about those searching for answers to a question. Like “SHEIN working conditions” or  “Is SHEIN ethical”?

SHEIN working conditions? That’s searched 1,900 times per month

Is SHEIN ethical? That’s searched 1,600 times per month

So if you have a company that sells clothes made in fantastic work conditions, or are produced from ethically sourced materials, writing articles to answer these search queries may just be your ticket to success.

Here’s a crazy stat, Google serves around 8.5 billion search queries PER DAY.

Thankfully for us business owners, there are TONS of tools making it easy for us to find out what’s being searched for.

And as daunting as it may seem to try creating content that ranks against competitors with huge marketing budgets, with Google’s new focus on topical authority, it’s actually a fantastic time to niche down and out rank those with massive budgets.

At Econus we use Ubersuggest, it’s only $30/ month as compared to competitors like Ahrefs or SEMRush which cost $150+/month.

If you don’t want to fork out the $30/month, Google Adwords has a great (free) keyword planner tool.

If $30 seems about right for you though, check out this article we wrote on drafting your eco-blog posts using Ubersuggest.

And yes, while it may seem old school, one of the best ways to reach people is still by email.

Email marketing

Everyone has an email account.

And with its personalization, it consistently ranks among the best channels for ROI.

In fact, as of 2020, email was generating around $36 for every $1 spent.

It’s the perfect way to grow your eco-friendly business and make sure you have a way to get in touch with everyone interested in your products in the future.

Other tools (Econus)

So there it is, starting a business and getting in front of conscious consumers in a nutshell.

But that’s not all you want, you want to stand out. You should be proactively trying to make a difference, afterall, that’s what being sustainable is all about.

That’s why we created Econus. Econus lets you make a tangible difference alongside your tribe.

With Econus you can create what we call a “Persona”. Essentially it’s the things that bother you about the purchases you make (like the air pollution that comes from a tank of gas. A lot of us need a car to get to/from work and such, so it’s a necessary evil, but it’s still an evil we can fight).

So yeah, a Persona lets you link purchases (like your gas purchases) to a non-profit offsetting the specific issues you care about (like the Clean Air Coalition, who fight for increased electric car subsidies, carbon taxes, etc).

Once you’ve linked all your purchases to a non-profit offsetting the issues, you can share your Persona with your followers/friends, and whoever follows your Persona will also donate their spare change to the non-profits you’ve chosen whenever they make the purchases you’ve linked.

You can see how much money you’ve raised alongside your tribe each month. It’s pretty neat.

If you want to make sure the change your making is having a real impact, you need to be setting SMART goals.

Setting SMART goals

How do we know if what we’re doing is working?

That’s where SMART goals come in.

Here are the keys to success in business

  1. Find a problem people are having
  2. Create something that solves that problem
  3. Get that thing in front of those people
  4. Find out if it solves their problem
  5. If not, ask what they would change
  6. Offer the new version
  7. Find out if it solves their problem
  8. If not, ask what they would change
  9. Rinse and repeat

Our SMART goals are going to be all about testing whether our solution is actually solving someone’s problem.

And the final step. Helping other sustainability businesses succeed once you’ve reached the summit!

Helping other sustainability businesses succeed

The beauty of creating a sustainability business is that we are all in it together. The more the sustainable space grows, the more conscious consumers we have to offer our solutions.

That’s what we’re trying to do here at Econus, be the most helpful to sustainably minded business, so that we can grow the entire space and create real change!

If you’d like more tips on running your own sustainability business, sign up for our newsletter!

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