Ecopreneurs come in all shapes and styles.  Big thinkers and lifestyle advocates satisfied with a small business;  poor and rich; opportunists seeing a hot trend and sustainability advocates just looking to do something good with their career.  What do they have in common?  What background do they have?  Did they think about what it takes to be an ecopreneur before they just jumped right in? 

We all know a successful ecopreneur or two (or ten).  What characteristics unify ecopreneurs?  Are they all young?  Are they all progressive?  Are they all spending quality time with their organic gardens to get away from it all?

In conducting the research for Build a Green Small Business:  Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur, I interviewed hundreds of ecopreneurs to find out just what made them tick. 

I asked ecopreneurs about their business, hoping to learn what made them greener than their conventional counterparts, and what might help others succeed.  I was amazed to find out how willing ecopreneurs were to share their business secrets with someone who was going to write a book about it.  The main finding, therefore, is that this ‘ecopreneur personality’, if there is one, is selfless and committed to the betterment of society.

But we probably suspected that.  What other trends are there?

I also asked them a host of other questions, including demographics.  Who starts green businesses?  Retirees with savings?  Young idealists?  Men?  Women?  Progressives?  Conservatives?

Now, I will preface this analysis by saying that this is less than a scientific study.  I interviewed well over 200 ecopreneurs, but had incomplete data from many for one reason or another.  Research continues…  But without further adieu:

Ecopreneurs tend to be relatively new to their trade.  Most had been in business less than 4 years, and the average was right about 2.2.

Ecopreneurs tend to be men.  By about 60/40, the gender balance favored men.

Ecopreneurs have no particular average age.  This stat was all over the map, with an age range from 21 to 72, and a wide and random distribution throughout.

Ecopreneurs tend to be educated.  Most (over 90%) had a college degree, and many (over 40%) had a M.S. or greater.

Ecopreneurs lean left politically.  On a scale of Far Left, Left, Center, Right, and Far Right, most (>85%) ecopreneurs were either Left or Far Left.   None reported being Far Right or Right.

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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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