My Experience Taking the Scale it Up Sustainability Training Spring Intensive
I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur unit I attended the Scale it Up Sustainability Training for Women Entrepreneurs Workshop. I had not considered starting my own business before. All I knew about becoming an entrepreneur was that it’s usually a difficult process, which takes a lot of time and resources. Now adding sustainability into the mix seemed even more daunting. Like most people, I thought that sustainability was something that only large companies could afford. How could a small business incorporate sustainability and still make a profit?
During the workshop, we were encouraged to think deeply about our own businesses whether established or just an idea. How can we turn our businesses or even potential businesses into a sustainable business? A sustainable business has many meanings, but this particular definition refers to taking into account people, the planet, and profits or otherwise known as the triple bottom line. How can a business help the global or local environment, the community, or even society but also be successful. These are hard questions and especially for someone who has no business even started. But I found that having no established business allowed me to explore these issues and really think abstractly about creative solutions to these complex problems.
I started by focusing on my hobby of wood working and imagined it as a business. I could make handmade and unique wooden home, kitchen, and furniture pieces. I would buy my supplies including wood, nails, screws, and wood glue from a hardware store. But buying wood from a store which comes from wood mills that cut down trees and reduce clean air and using power tools is not exactly the greenest business model. How could I incorporate sustainability into my business?
The easiest thing would be to donate money to an environmental cause to make up for the fact I would be contributing to the tearing down of trees. I could also make my products using no power tools, but that would be incredibility difficult and cause my selling prices to sky rocket. Instead, I could search for old wood that was left for trash and recycle or repurpose it into products. I could also donate my saw dust waste for local farms to use for animal beds. Also, I could offer wood working classes to teach people new skills to then use towards a job or career. These are more realistic goals for my business. Going through the whole business plan allowed me to dig deep into my practices and think about creative ways I could help make an impact to other people and the environment.
But this did not come pouring into my head all at once. Going through the workshop and participating in brainstorming, goal setting, and challenges allowed each woman entrepreneur to reflect on their current business plan or model and explore what sustainability meant to their particular business. As I learned during the workshop, to incorporate sustainable practices into a business is not just for larger companies and corporations. Just by changing how I obtained my materials for my own business makes a hug impact towards the environment. Little steps towards a larger goal can help a business no matter how big or small reach their larger sustainability goals.
As I imagined my woodworking business coming into a reality, I realized that one of the most rewarding aspects of owning a business is the unique opportunity to contribute to the world and society. A business owner has a stronger voice to the world than an employee. As a business owner, you can set your own guidelines and practices for your company. I could decide to use only recyclable materials for my products or packaged my products in recyclable materials. I could decide to pay my employees living able wages or employee people in my local neighbored. Incorporating sustainability into your business is important for the future of not only your own company but everyone and everything around you. Sustainability is the future of business and adding sustainable practices to your business will help your company stand out to the world and your customers.
Perhaps the most rewarding part of the whole workshop was the energy that came from being surrounded by all the women entrepreneurs from all levels of business, whether; they were just starting with an idea, making their first sales, or expanding into another location. I felt encouraged to take on the challenge of starting my own business, not only for my own satisfaction, but also for the opportunity to make a true difference in the world by creating a business with sustainable practices.
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