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Our Guide to Sustainable Entrepreneurship
Blog...Our Guide to Sustainable Entrepreneurship

Our Guide to Sustainable Entrepreneurship

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In this article, we’ll explain what sustainable entrepreneurship is, the benefits, and how you can pursue sustainable entrepreneurship yourself.
laptop and desktop on wood desk with green plants

In today’s modern and fully digitalized world, almost everyone is seeking entrepreneurship under some form even if they are unaware of it – such as by starting a Tik Tok account, self-publishing a book, developing a small business, or even making money from a “side hustle”.

However, many are unaware of sustainable entrepreneurship – which could allow for independent workers the same benefits as traditional entrepreneurship while also helping to promote sustainability.

In this article, we’ll explain what sustainable entrepreneurship is, the benefits, and how you can pursue sustainable entrepreneurship yourself.

What is sustainable entrepreneurship?

Sustainable entrepreneurship is referred to as the practice of developing or advertising for sustainable products that will financially benefit the seller while also seeking to benefit society in the long run.

Some examples of sustainable entrepreneurship include business owners that sell sustainable products such as cosmetics, clothing, or even eco-friendly packaging.
venn diagram people profit planet

👉 In sustainable entrepreneurship, it is equally important to create both a profitable product and to create “outside-of-the-box” ideas that can help to promote the importance of sustainability.  

Sustainable entrepreneurship might be the right fit if you possess the following qualities or sentiments:

  • Creative thinking and innovation
  • Passion for building a business from the ground up
  • Determination to persuade the public on the importance of sustainability
  • Express equal satisfaction from receiving a profit from your business as you feel knowing that your product is helping the planet

Essentially, any individual business owner or company that cites sustainability or sustainable development as a part of their mission statement may be considered a sustainable entrepreneur – such as companies seeking to reduce the environmental impact of their shipping materials or aiming to monitor the life cycle of their product.

businessman in blue suit

Why is entrepreneurship becoming so popular?

These days, it seems everyone is seeking entrepreneurship in one form or another – even if they don’t realize it.

In fact, over 5 million new businesses were created in the United States alone in 2022 – which makes sense, seeing as a whopping ⅓ of people would prefer to be their own boss.

Here are a few other statistics about entrepreneurship you may not have known:

  • A college education isn’t paramount for those seeking entrepreneurship – seeing as only around 17% of entrepreneurs have completed a bachelor’s degree. This can serve as one of the many reasons why entrepreneurship is gaining popularity, seeing as student loans and debt are becoming more unforgiving by the day with the expense of higher education in the United States. 
  • As of 2020, there are 274 million female entrepreneurs worldwide – with this number inevitably having grown since the pandemic and the new wave of remote working. 
  • Many people in the United States have chosen to pursue entrepreneurship seeing as 17% aren’t content with their corporate jobs, and 16% want to have a job that aligns with their passion. 

Overall, it’s clear that entrepreneurship has taken on a whole new meaning and has become an accessible dream to everyone – but why?

Well, the internet and new technologies have made those dreams more probable realities – seeing as technologies have created new markets that weren’t in demand or had even excited before such as online shopping or pop-up food trucks.

In addition to this, the pandemic and remote working have allowed for a digital nomad lifestyle – where people work for the day from their villa in Bali before hopping on a flight to India the next day. The fact that this is even possible has sparked the desire for more independence, especially amongst Gen Z – where 75% of this young population hopes to pursue entrepreneurship.

Some other reasons why entrepreneurship has grown in popularity may include:

  • The rise of social media and influencers who make a passive income through monetized content or sponsorships;
  • The popularity associated with the ideal of starting your own business and having it be successful;
  • The opportunity for greater work flexibility and a better work-life balance, which is often found to be missing in corporate America – seeing as the majority of Americans are only granted 2 weeks of vacation per year.
In a sense, entrepreneurship is being viewed as the epitome of, “work smarter, not harder” – which has elicited a global desire to pursue entrepreneurship.

👉 Overall, entrepreneurship allows for a more personally tailored lifestyle – seeing as people can manage their business anytime and anywhere while still reaping financial benefits. 

person working on laptop poolside

What are the main differences between traditional entrepreneurship and sustainable entrepreneurship? 

While both traditional and sustainable entrepreneurship seek to create a profit from a product and allow the creator of the business to experience financial independence – the two types of entrepreneurs have numerous differences. 

Here are some of the goals often set by traditional entrepreneurs:

  • Creating long-term profit;
  • Developing a product or service that allows the entrepreneur to “make money while you sleep” – such as with monetized YouTube videos or selling a virtual, pre-recorded class or tutorial videos for passive income;
  • Reaching numerous target audiences to ensure the product or service can be used by a wide variety of people to guarantee continuous profit;
  • Prioritize profit and building financial independence above all else.

👉 Traditional entrepreneurship is overall more concerned with maximizing shareholder value and curating a business which creates exceptional profit. Therefore, sustainable measures will often be put on the backburner until finances are in order for the entrepreneur – as the success of the business will be measured in dollars over anything else.

cartoons carrying money and graphic charts

Sustainable entrepreneurship, on the other hand, tends to measure its success through its environmental data – such as how much plastic waste was avoided or the amount of emissions reduced as a result of the more sustainable product.

Here are some of the goals often set by sustainable entrepreneurs: 

  • Contribute to SDGs;
  • Seek to prevent waste, plastic, or excess emissions wherever necessary;
  • Utilize technology not for profit, but to develop new ways to ensure energy efficiency and more sustainable deployment and delivery for products;
  • Measure their environmental impact and set goals early on in the process of business development to be reviewed and adjusted accordingly as the business grows and gains traction.

👉 Ultimately, the main difference between traditional entrepreneurs and sustainable entrepreneurship is that traditional entrepreneurship is heavily focused on creating and sustaining a profitable business while sustainable entrepreneurship centers its goals more around its societal and environmental impact.

man in suit working from desk

What are the benefits of sustainable entrepreneurship?

There are multiple benefits for those who choose the route of sustainable entrepreneurship. 

This is because in addition to reaping the well-known benefits of traditional entrepreneurship such as financial freedom and better work-life balance, sustainable entrepreneurship allows for even more advantages – and not just for the entrepreneur themselves.

Here are just a few of the perks of pursuing sustainable entrepreneurship:

  • Greater Satisfaction – Many people who seek to become an entrepreneur go down this route for one reason and one reason only: the prospect of becoming a millionaire with a passive income. However, many who choose the sustainable entrepreneurship path will find greater satisfaction knowing that their product not only fills their pockets, 
  • Benefit Local Communities – Some of the ideas on behalf of sustainable entrepreneurship could help their surrounding communities in times of crisis – such as coming up with sustainable personal care products that could be distributed to the homeless or low income communities.
  • Help the Planet – Many of us struggle to figure out how we can implement green living and greater sustainability into our everyday lives, so what better way than to make it a part of your everyday job? Many sustainable entrepreneurs will feel good knowing that their line of work is also making a difference in the environment. 
  • Create Long-Term Value – Companies today are scrambling to ensure their business will remain plausible in the midst of climate change. For example, a disposable razor company may find it increasingly difficult to gain a following as people begin to favor more sustainable and eco-friendly personal care products. Therefore, sustainable entrepreneurship allows for the creation of businesses that are likely to remain relevant and profitable in the long-run.
  • More Investors – These days, stakeholders and investors prefer to invest their time and money in companies that can demonstrate their commitment towards the environment – meaning that sustainable entrepreneurship could allow for more investment opportunities and prevent the need to take out a business loan. 

👉 Essentially, sustainable entrepreneurship allows for the financial benefits of traditional entrepreneurship while also allowing for greater satisfaction and humanitarian purposes. 

young woman working from cafe

How can you pursue sustainable entrepreneurship?

The majority of businesses would love to become more sustainable, but seeing as 20% of businesses fail within the first year – many are fearful to make a head start down the road of sustainable entrepreneurship when it comes to their business.

Is there a way for you and your business to successfully pursue sustainable entrepreneurship while still making sure you meet all of your financial targets?

Here are a few ways to properly implement the ideals of sustainable entrepreneurship into your own business or at your company:

  • Develop a New Green Product – Sometimes, familiarity helps to persuade people towards a cause – therefore, revamping one of your current products to be more eco-friendly could be a good start to transition your business to more sustainable products. 
  • Use Sustainable Packaging – If completely redesigning your product is out of the question for now, one of the easiest ways to demonstrate your commitment to environmental reform is to change the packaging of your product. Read more here for our complete guide to sustainable packaging.
  • Implement Energy Efficiency –  If you aren’t a sustainable entrepreneur working from home, try to redesign your office to be equipped with the latest technology and appliances to ensure energy efficiency and to help reduce utility bills at your place of business.

Ultimately, just like traditional entrepreneurship – sustainable entrepreneurship is accessible to everyone, and you too can implement the values of sustainability in your endeavors in entrepreneurship by starting small and picking the actions that mean the most to you.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about sustainable entrepreneurship has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

It can be challenging to effectively incorporate the values of sustainable entrepreneurship into your business model and ensure that your company is making progress towards its climate goals, but don’t worry – Greenly is here to help! Click here to book a demo and get personalized expertise on how you can start to reduce your own emissions and decrease your environmental impact.

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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