There are many ways in which entrepreneurs and ecopreneurs are similar. Both embrace failure and are idea-driven, innovative, creative, risk tolerant, flexible, adaptable, freedom-minded and independent. Perhaps you could add a few more defining characteristics as well.
However, ecopreneurs go beyond organic, beyond compliance to laws and regulations (or redefine them), beyond consumerism, beyond minimum wages and beyond the free market economy to conduct business. Entrepreneurs become ecopreneurs when their spirit, boldness, courage and determination not only transform the landscape but coalescence into a movement to transform global problems into opportunities for restoration and healing. After talking with thousands of ecopreneurs over the past decade, we’ve discovered quite a few distinguishing characteristics reflected in the chart to the right. Additionally, ecopreneurs seem to be more focused on cooperation and collaboration than competition as the means to get ahead in the world. That’s why so many form innovative partnerships or creative interdependencies with fellow ecopreneurs — just as in nature.
The most progressive ecopreneurial enterprises address more than one of the many challenges facing us. Their business might foster fair trade relationships (promoting economic justice and equity), generate more energy from renewable energy sources than it uses (severing our addiction to fossil fuels) and even serve local, seasonal, vegetarian, and organic meals to those who work in the business.
Ecopreneurs take a penchant for innovation and problem-solving, applying it to meaningful purpose. Ecopreneurs emblazen the re-greening of Earth, restoring degraded land, cleaning the air, building healthy and safe homes, devising clean, renewable energy sources, offering prevention oriented alternatives to treatment focused healthcare and helping preserve or restore the ecological and cultural wonders of the planet by changing the way we experience travel, just to name a few. While entrepreneurs make their money work for them through the businesses they create, or assets they accumulate, ecopreneurs use their businesses to implement their Earth Mission. If you’re earning a living now, perhaps working for a company or organization, then becoming an ecopreneur will revolutionize how you think about money, your livelihood, your life.
While many entrepreneurs may be motivated, at least in part, to the mantra of “greed is great” on their journey to becoming a millionaire, growing numbers of ecopreneurs are adopting a different course, focusing on solving the problems facing society through the businesses they create, greening their bottom line. Many are redefining their wealth, as we have, not by the size of their bank account or square footage of their home. Wealth is defined by life’s tangibles: health, wellness, meaningful work, vibrant community life and family.
In the end, ecopreneurs are all about making a difference for the planet, fellow citizens, and our community. As we write about in ECOpreneuring, ecopreneurs generate revenues to run their business based on their passion to make the world a better place. Not, as the late Milton Friedman expounded: to make profits for a relatively few shareholders.