The recession is a tough time for small business owners.  Conventional logic says to batten down the hatches and prepare for a long, cold winter.  Conventional logic, however, is for conventional thinkers.  You’re an eco-entrepreneur.  So ride the horse that got you here and think outside the box. 


In your pool of customers, there are big fish and little fish.  Enough little fish will keep you fed, clothed, and support your family.  Being a small business, you’ve always catered to the little fish, and figured one day, maybe, you’d land a big fish.  Whether it’s a large account, or just premium customers of the LOHAS demographic that have a little more money to spend, this may well be the time to go after these customers. 

Odds are, with everyone else cutting back on their marketing, promotions, and customer service, if you were to cast a line out there for one of those big fish, you might find them already thinking about their options. 

It may be a big account, and if you play your cards right and do solid customer relations management, you might just get your foot in the door and build rapport.  Or, it may be premium customers that are looking for over-the-top service and quality in an eco-friendly fashion, and are willing to pay extra for it. 

“Common sense says be price competitive,” says Kelly Giard of Clean Air Lawn Care.  “The competitors who competed on price have been losing customers in this economy.  Because we stuck our chin out and said you should pay more for green, our customer retention has been around 90%.”

So go ahead, bait that hook and throw it out there, in the deeper waters of the pond.  Maybe you’ll get a little tug on the line.  Now nice and easy, reel ’em in…

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About The Author

Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of 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. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on

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