August 25, 2010 1 Comment
The International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research (IJEBR) have just published a new edition (Vol. 16, No. 4). There are papers on: entrepreneurial competencies and their impact on likely success which is focused on entrepreneurs in Malaysia; on the motives of environmental entrepreneurs; on the role of reflection in innovation; and a focus on the barriers small firms face when trying to raise finance. The first paper of particular practical interest is the one that focuses on the environmental entrepreneur. It is written by two professors from the University of Otago in New Zealand. The authors use a term the ‘ecopreneur’, which apparently has been around for some time within the academic field. It is basically defined as businesses and entrepreneurs who are ecologically or environmentally focused in their approach to their businesses. Such entrepreneurs can still make profits but are interested in new businesses founded on the principle of sustainability. The example the authors offer is Anita Roddick the founder of the Body Shop but one can find other examples at the organization the Environmental Entrepreneur and a good example would be Telsa founders Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning.
The study then progresses by explaining that ‘ecopreneurs’ may be a subset of entrepreneurs because their motivations for becoming an entrepreneur might differ and be driven somewhat by ecological or environmental values. Given that one could argue that we are in the midst of a new industrial revolution or indeed environmental industrial revolution the paper takes an important and interesting stance. The study looks at 14 case studies of companies that have meet the criteria set out of the authors. They propose looking at the prior research that these entrepreneurs may be driven by: strong ethical reasoning; a desire to make the world a better place; and have a critical role in displacing current social norms, as well as, advancing new economic business concepts.
When looking at their data the researchers found that environmental entrepreneurs have five common motives that may drive their decision-making. These were: green values; the identification of a gap in the market; making a living; being their own boss; and, a passion for the industry, product or service. Although these motives do not vary much from those one would expect of mainstream entrepreneurs the authors conclude that green values seem to be driving the reason why these entrepreneurs start businesses rather than other common motives such as profit making and a need for independence.
So what are the practical conclusions one can draw from this paper? It seems the main message is a common one in the entrepreneurship field. If you have a passion for something and believe in something strongly enough (for example having green values) then it can become a very supportive driving force behind your efforts and the necessary tenacity you will require to be successful at your endeavor. If you lack the passion or interest then perhaps you really shouldn’t try to start a business in the area you are considering.