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Nov 17, 2008

With the economy in a tailspin, the level of concern among my fellow green entrepreneurs is running high.  And it should be. But together we can still make a world of difference.

 

Businesses focused on “the greater good” can be powerfully positive forces, free of the nonprofit funding cycle - but only if they are financially sustainable.  A tight economy forces green entrepreneurs to focus on revenue. While that may sound trite, the reality is most social entrepreneurs focus on the mission more than the margin… which means a lot of money is spent chasing dreams before reality forces the entrepreneur to focus on finding a truly sustainable business model.  In this economy, no one’s getting out of the gates without a believable business model – and that’s good for the investors, good for the entrepreneur, and good for society. 

 

Many green businesses will also benefit from a bad economy because consumers get more practical with their spending – focusing more on Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling – the underlying principles of many green products and services.  This won’t help small businesses trying to sell trendy green gizmos and gadgets, but if you can show how your product saves money while saving the planet, then now is your time to shine.

 

In addition, when money is tight, we’re more likely to pause to consider why we’re actually purchasing something – and that’s when the values embodied in sustainable products become a key factor in our decisions.  While the least expensive products may catch our eye, our “conscious values” can help tip the scale toward greener purchases.   That’s a point worth remembering next time you’re out shopping. Now is the time that green businesses small and large need your help the most.  If we work together, we can help the green pioneers through these rough times.

 

I speak of this from firsthand experience.   I started Care2 back in 1998, just before the dotcom boom and following bomb.  In September, 2001 we ran out of cash, and came very close to shutting down.  I talked to every investor and donor I could, and everyone turned me down – it wasn’t surprising, as most of these folks saw 80% or more of their dotcom investments evaporate during this time.  

 

Finally, one of our seed investors stepped up and gave us a loan. Everyone else probably thought he was crazy, but he believed in our team and our mission, and took a chance.  For the next two years we struggled, focusing intently on making payroll every two weeks.   Several of us took no pay check, and others hung on with salary cuts.  We were tenacious and we did what was necessary to get by, and we made it through.

 

Today, I’m proud that we’re an early part of the “green jobs” revolution employing more than 50 people and connecting millions doing good through our site.  But we wouldn’t have been here if that one individual hadn’t believed in us, and if our team hadn’t been absolutely committed to our mission.

 

So, in this time of need, we all must stretch our imaginations and believe in the dreams that others will not. We must stand by those who are taking action to create a sustainable model for a better world.  We must work together to create the change we wish to see in the world. And we must never give up.

 

Together we'll stand
Divided we'll fall
Come on now people
Let's get on the ball
And work together
Come on, come on
Let's work together…

- lyrics by Canned Heat

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Posted: Nov 17, 2008 6:03pm

 

 
 
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.

Author

Randy Paynter
, 1
Hillsborough, CA, USA
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