Business owners are busy people. If you are one, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever tried to work with one, you *really* know what I’m talking about. I was asked in a recent interview on NPR a question that is pretty typical: given how busy people are, and how tight business budgets can be, how and why would they get started even thinking about going green?
Thankfully, the tools for going green are getting better and better. However, the field is still complicated, with lots of information out there, but highly targeted and helpful information for a particular person’s situation still really difficult to find. Hiring an individual consultant is simply out of range for most small businesses, so how do they make it happen?
And, if you’re looking to help businesses go green, how do you approach this chicken/egg problem?
A new startup is working on a solution. It’s called AMP, and as Inspired Economist noted, there’s a glaring need for this sort of thing.
Consider a few scenarios:
Bob is a small businessman who wants to build his customer base among green consumers. But he doesn’t know where to begin—how to account for energy, material use? He searches the site for small business sustainability plans, and finds a marketing communications publication from GreenBusinessOwner.com. This is original content, which I could potentially sell (ala DocStoc) to Bob (this particular pub is a free download but you get the idea). He has saved himself countless hours of searching and assembling tips and guidelines from a multitude of search results.
Tom works for a small manufacturer that is being asked by its primary customers to show how it is improving its supply chain practices and carbon footprint. He barely knows what carbon footprint is calculated by, but he has been told about lifecycle assessment tools. On the site, he finds a dozen LCA software packages, which have all been listed by other AMP users, with their own ratings (like Yelp) and commentary about ease of use and for whom that tool would be best suited.
Jim is part of corporate green team, and he wants to find a demonstration project for renewable energy that can help his company get used to the idea of being green. So he searches the site for renewable energy project examples, and finds the list of small projects, curated by other AMP users, that he can pick from and adapt to his own needs.
Sally has been tasked with creating her company’s first sustainability/ CSR report. She hasn’t taken GRI training but has some idea of what a report should include, but not how to collect the data or what the report should look like. On AMP, she can find reviews (and ratings) of CSR reports, as posted by other AMP users, and even find articles about how to craft your first report, or what data is essential.
For sustainability professionals, the site presents a great opportunity to showcase expertise, and potentially to make money by helping others go green.
For the next few days, AMP is crowdfunding money on IndieGogo. Check it out…I’ve given them some dough, because I believe it’s a great project, and I do hope to help sustainability efforts elsewhere by sharing my experiences. And…who knows? Maybe I’ll make some extra money every year just by doing what I love doing. Now that’s what I call a win-win.
Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. As a serial eco-entrepreneur who has started, grown and sold multiple green businesses, Scott believes that capitalism, true capitalism, can be a powerful force for change, but that our current version of capitalism is severely hampered by perverse subsidies and negative externalities that make unsustainable products less expensive than healthier alternatives. Scott is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, and an organic gardener. Find Scott on Google Plus