Insights from Working the Green Economy 2 Day Business Forum 17-18 June 2011

john harrington, realeyes

Below are some of the points we took from what was discussed over the two days: some real nuggets for anyone looking to start up a business.

Thanks to the speakers and everyone who attended over the two days. We’d love to hear what you thought and took from it.

[In the photo: John Harrington, RealEyes]

Insights from the day:

Openess and collaboration is good – general consensus that the adage, a problem shared is one halved.  New businesses need to collaborate and there’s never been a better time to connect. Still, choose your collaborators as you’d choose investors or mentors, wisely!

Social Media is a must have to small business (Except if you’re selling Green Coffins):  Most agreed that social media is a must have promotional tool for new business but as most of us didn’t grow up with it, we have to spend some time to understand how it works i.e we’re non-native.

Evolve your business plan and have more than one version - A number of speakers including Titta (Lilly’s Eco-clean), John Bourke and Mark from Go-Car emphasized the need to constantly revisit your business plan and to have different versions for different stakeholders (i.e bank, investors, mentors).  Find out what they want and give it to them.

Mentors like sharks, not Teddy Bears – there should be blood on the wall after a meeting with your mentor.  Make sure they challenge you.  It’s ok to replace a mentor if they’re not working out.  Be brutal but nice about this.

Business Model Generation – disruptive new business models are emblematic of our generation. Get your value proposition right and know the nature of your relationship with your customer (i.e automated or high touch). What resources do you need to deliver on your proposition. Put you business idea through the business model generator.

Eco-superior – sustainability is analogous to quality.  Not enough to be green, must be better than what’s gone before.

Grow into your ideaJoseph Little’s idea about thinking big to leave room for growth and development of your idea.  Titta also mentioned, “thinking big”, be mission driven.  If you’re going to be a GreEntrepreneur you had better believe in why you’re doing it.   You may need to change the whole industry.

It takes twice as long as you think – Everything does, when you start working for yourself

Read Books – cheaper than consultants/experts – study companies you admire and copy their approach.

Good days, bad days – what you have when you’re in business for yourself.

Brand Strategy – use professionals to get it right, it’s very important.

Awards – apply for as many as you can.  Getting short listed is great for publicity

Green Jobs – plenty of them to come and not just in windmills.  All types of skills required including marketing and other services, they are not all engineering jobs.

Green Public Procurement – one to watch in the short term.  What green product?service could you provide to the public sector and what’s your value proposition.  Look out for commitment from Taoiseach in next couple of weeks.

Retraining – see

A little and oftenNeil McCabe’s philosophy when it comes to change toward sustainability.

Just do it – don’t worry if you’re not technical – Neil’s approach to rain water harvesting which Kilbarrack did it themselves for almost nothing

Thermodynamic Collector – a good way to source hot water if you use a lot of it, proven in Kilbarrack fire station.

Small = FastMazhar Bari’s rational for why SME’s can compete with large organisations

Ideas are cheap – you must convert them into reality

Cusp of a wave – where we are now in the green economy – don’t get off now!!

Dress for success – dress to make the people you’re meeting feel comfortable/confident

Go upstream – What Padraig from Temple Street did with carrots so he wouldn’t have to deal with them as waste.

Porters and security – Padraig best allies in ensuring compliance with Temple street hospitals waste and other initiatives

Success breed’s success – how to ensure continuous improvement

Technical + cultural – don’t assume technical fix will always work, need staff buy-in as well so education is critical.

Sources of funds/support mentioned:

County and city enterprise boards – mixed view of these among speakers

Innovation Partnership programme – help Niamh on Eco-Appz

Lord Mayors fund in collaboration with Ulster bank – €10M

Enterprise platform programme – WexGen

Fundingpoint – - sources of funds for social enterprise (non profit)

Sources of funding for business

Business expansion scheme (BES)

Seed capital scheme

270 business mentors – what Enterprise Ireland have to help you