Summit Strategy Sessions Offer Useful Insights – Great Ideas, Best Practices for Entrepreneurs

Summit Strategy Sessions Offer Useful Insights – Great Ideas, Best Practices for Entrepreneurs

Day two of the SJF Summit on the New Green Economy offered participants the chance to have a facilitated conversation about challenges and opportunities in the new green economy.  Sessions were held on issues that entrepreneurs face, the needs of rural and urban communities for economic development, and issues unique to the Triangle region of North Carolina.  We’ve picked out and posted to this blog some of the most interesting and useful insights from these sessions and paraphrased or quoted the participants.   Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions!


What do you need to know to be a successful entrepreneur in the green business space?  Lots of great ideas were offered up at the Entrepreneurship Strategy Session during SJF’s Green Economy Summit.  Top of mind for entrepreneurs: every relationship matters.

Other nuggets of advice:

•    Don’t despair if capital investment seems to only go to the big guys.  Our panel argued that micro-lending is an available, viable option for smaller firms.

•    Notes one participant: there are many new debt options. Lightly collateralized loans up to $50,000, and lending up to $200,000, might be an option. While this might not be much money for capital-intensive companies, it can be helpful for service businesses.

•    When you’re short on people-power or fresh ideas, tap business school students.  Our panel found them to be eager and socially motivated.  Moreover, to have students working on a discrete project that relates to their studies can be a real win-win.

•    Work on that elevator pitch!  As one participant emphasized: “say in a few words what the market opportunity is. Entrepreneurs have too many words and grand ideas. Instead, say ‘here’s the need, and here’s how we’ll address it in a differentiated way.’”

•    Be clear about the shortest path to revenue and breakeven point.  Small and income-generating is better than big and in the red.

•    Find an investor who cares about the problems you are working to solve. “If you’ve got them by the heart, the wallet is close to follow.”

The entrepreneurs also had ideas as to the most pressing needs for budding green entrepreneurs:

•    The need for experienced mentors: “How can we connect people with a business background to mentor those who have the heart but no business experience?”

•    The need for seed funding: “Many environmental or mission-driven businesses don’t fit the formula for lending because they don’t have a track record. But they’re visionaries, and they’re the ones we [the market] need to figure out how to fund.”

•    The need for good metrics to measure social and environmental performance.a