Do you have a green invention or a green service and you want to bring it to the marketplace? Don't know how to begin? In your case, planning is key as proper planning helps organize your thinking.
Find out what you need to get started with your business planning in the ten steps below.
For any new endeavor, a good start requires putting your thoughts to paper and answering basic questions.
Identify what exactly your "green" invention does, or what your "green" service or product is.
Identify who exactly your "green" product or service serves. Who will use your idea? Be as specific as possible: conservative "soccer" moms? twenty-somethings with disposable income living in large metropolitan areas? hard-core LOHAS consumers? Work-at-home solopreneurs near the coast? Bed and breakfast owners who want to green their facilities? You know best. Identify who your customer is.
Identify a price point for your particular invention. For example, for your list of potential customers, what is the average "ticket price" you forecast someone being able to spend on your invention or product? In my case, as a green web designer, our customers expect to pay between $2,000 – $10,000 on a retail website, depending on complexity and desired functionality. [more]
Where will customers find your product and service? What kinds of distribution methods do you want to use? Where will your product be available? (online, retail, big-box stores, direct selling, commission-based multi-level-marketing, etc.)
With the above points, you now have a general plan which you may then refine — the above answers become your initial business plan (or at least a guiding document as you move forward).
I highly recommend you find a mentor through your local SCORE
These are the "counselors to America's small business," who are senior, retired, or experienced advisors who provide free and low-cost assistance to emerging businesses. With years of experience and connections, the counselors here can give you very good information on how to get started.
Here is a link to find mentors using the term "green invention": drill down to find someone in your state.
SCORE.org mentor search results
6) THINK LOCAL.
Get a sense of your local market if you'd like to start selling nearby. When we were first getting started in business, we utilized the local Business Networking International http://www.bni.com chapter to meet other professionals in our area. BNI offers a regular group meeting of non-competing company representatives (for example, only one printer, one plumber, one electrician, one attorney, one realtor) who build up circles of referrals together. BNI was our lifeline our first few years in business.
Do you need to find an intellectual property attorney to discuss the feasibility of getting a patent on your unique invention?
Ask your existing network or connect with me on http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/monicaflores and find one within my extended network.
How will you finance your project:
Do you need outside investors?
Bank loans/traditional financing?
Bootstrap with your personal investment?
Consider how much you personally have to invest in your dream and how much you'll need outside assistance.
9) FILL OUT YOUR TEAM.
If you need partners to help you follow through with your vision (for example, you need someone with experience in sales or in management or in marketing or a technical whiz), find your teammates.
You have a unique skillset, so identify someone with skills different from yours. Reach out — you might find "sweat equity" partners or someone who will help you get organized, in the beginning, in return for a share of the business. Or if you have a certain amount to invest in your idea, what can you receive for a flat fee from a potential solutions partner?
10) GETTING READY.
Consider how many weeks or months you need to get your product up-and-running. Do you have a pilot product ready? Do you need a prototype? If you have a service, can you offer the service to a few ongoing customers in exchange for feedback on how it works?Business runs on sales, and sales are generated through happy, satisfied, and repeat customers. You have an opportunity to make the world a greener place through your unique idea. If you have a dream to bring your product to fruition on the marketplace shelves, or if you believe your green service will truly help, I encourage you and invite you to make that dream come true.
Check back next week at TheGreenGirls.com as we'll be going through networking, promotions, and marketing for your new green business.
You can do it!
Other resources that helped me with my own business include:
Make Mine a $Million
QuickBooks accounting software
Your bank: ask for the small business specialist
Google search: how to start a green business
You can always find a tip or how-to on Green Businesses here at The Green Girls on Wednesday afternoons.
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Monica S. Flores of is committed to educating, empowering, and connecting women in business — she believes in the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profits.