Report on first session of Green Enterprise

This generated a nice buzz.

Although the formal session of the first meeting of Green-enterprise community finished at 9:45, discussions continued in the pub afterwards until we got thrown out at midnight!  It looked to me as if at least one third of the participants had made useful connections. Quite a few were arranging to meet together afterwards.

It’s clear there is a hunger for a Green enterprise community of some sort, although as one might expect, people’s needs vary according to what stage of the journey they’re on. 

I've listed below some of the key issues that arose during the first session.  I hope we will be able to address these during the first year, so if anyone has ideas and can help with any of these topics, do let me know.

New opportunities

Some are searching for an opportunity. How can I use my skills in a way that’s in keeping with my green ethos? Others already have an idea for an enterprise, but welcome help to improve it, or overcome particular barriers. 


The perennial topic of finance came up several times.  As with any business, new entrepreneurs need to learn how to keeping track of the business, price their work, write business plans and pitch for funding. However green entrepreneurs also have to struggle to keep abreast of a changing maze of carbon incentives, most of which seem to cease to be available as soon as they become popular. The forthcoming  feed-in tarrifs are welcome, but it’s unclear how broadly they’ll apply which is a real problem for some.

Social isolation

Working alone is hard. Particular problems that were mentioned include the difficulty of developing ideas in isolation, resolving time conflicts (eg with the day job), accessing expertise, making decisions, having courage. 

The issue of collaboration is a key one.  Some are actively looking for collaborators, whether out of genuine need or lack of confidence.  Others were interested in collaboration, but afraid of giving away their good ideas.

Customers and Marketing

Understanding customers' needs of is a key factor for any business, but it’s particularly challenging and important in a rapidly evolving area like green enterprise. How do you tell the difference between an eco-fad and a commercially important new trend?  Ultimately you’ll probably have to go with your gut, but as experienced innovators know it’s important to gather what data you can to sanity check and improve on your hunches. 

Marketing was also an issue for many. This was unsurprising, as the majority of participants in the first session had a technical background, and technical people often find marketing quite challenging anyway. However, green entrepreneurs face the problem that new ideas can’t be sold in the same way as the old. Persuading someone to switch brands of soap is a very different challenge from persuading them to want to use soap in the first place!

Green Champions

Green champions in bigger companies face the inevitable problems in convincing their colleagues to change, so would love some skilled help or a “tool kit” to do the job.  The problems are slightly different in a small company. Things can move much faster there, but the key barrier is having access to expertise to know what to do, or help in knowing whether what you’ve decided to do really is a good idea.

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