You might not find this newsletter interesting if you already have a company or an NGO that acts for Nature. Sorry for that! Or maybe, you still get some new insights you haven’t thought about when working on how to start a sustainable business.
Whether you’re already in the game or a Nature venture owner to be, I take you quickly through precisely the steps I took to develop Wild Business Mates & Wildya.
Disclaimer. Some ideas take longer than others.
Wildya is still giving me constant headaches, and we haven’t hit the sweet spot yet in which many people subscribe to our paid plan.
On the other hand, Wild Business Mates took me 3 days to build and create revenue without me actively investing tons into marketing.
Do you want to act to protect biodiversity, fight climate change, reduce our CO2 impact, clean our oceans, or tackle any of the 9 planetary boundaries? I hope this article will help you get closer to this goal.
FYI, the most important tools and books I would recommend you to use or read are all listed at the end of the article.
So, let’s begin your ecopreneurship journey!
1. Set up a 2nd brain
Before you do anything, create a place where to store all the information. Trust me, your brain can’t handle everything. Most of the time, you have limited resources, so the few you have need to be spent as smartly as possible. Notion is my favorite tool for that.
2. Do your Ikigai
Before starting, you must understand your Ikigai/purpose because it will be a great compass going forward. You need to know what you love doing, what you are good at, activities you can earn money with, and what the world needs. Where all these meet, you are sitting on your nature venture. On the Wildya app, we have a 15-minute course on that called “Beavers & Self-Confidence”.
3. Ideate what to work on
If you have an idea, great! But many don’t. To find what to work on, you can use:
- The 5 Whys.
- Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System.
- Chat GPT.
4. Create a simple pitch deck
Pitch decks are these power points you usually send to investors. However, at the start of the idea, it can help you structure your thoughts and research properly. Base Templates has some great templates.
🦤 Do you need help with your pitch deck? Discover how to make a pitch deck and the 20 slides you need to create one that people will remember!
5. Design your business model canvas
Next, you design a business model canvas. This will help you structure your idea further and show you all the blind spots you still have. It takes 15-30 minutes and is always one of the first things I do when I have an idea.
🦎 Do you want to learn more about the key role of this tool? Read my article about how to unlock the potential of your Nature venture thanks to your business model canvas.
6. Ask people
People won’t copy your idea. Trust me. Fortunately / unfortunately no one cares at the beginning. So, share what you have worked on so far to get fresh perspectives.
7. Research pain
That’s the time you probably realized that your idea needs more thinking. So dive deeper into truly understanding the pain of your potential customers/donors. If you truly understand this part, you have an excellent chance to succeed.
8. Ask outside your circle
When we ask your spouse, mum & co, we will probably hear the same answer about your idea: “Yes, that’s great! You are a genius!” To get a reality check if you are up to something good, get feedback and insights from outside your first circle. Surveys can help immensely to understand better if the problem exists or if you made it up. Try to get at least 50 replies. Typeform is the best tool to create beautiful ones, but Google Forms does the job as well.
9. Benchmark the landscape
By now, you better understand what you want to do. So check on the internet if someone is already doing your idea. What can you bring to the table that is new or better?
10. Build a prototype
Sometimes, our life experiences make up for all the previous parts. So, sometimes, you can immediately jump into the building part. The idea here is not to build a perfect product but to deliver it fast, to test the waters. That can be a website, a localized project, etc. It doesn’t need to be shiny. It doesn’t need to scale. It only needs to show the potential of what you are trying to build.
11. Test it
Test your prototype with 10 of your ideal target customers. Give it to their hands without extensive explanations. See what happens and ask them questions about it.
12. Go back to the drawing board
Chances are high people will give you tons of feedback you didn’t think of. That is the point where most people give up. But you will push through because you know that YOU didn’t fail, but your IDEA is not as polished as you thought.
13. Show it again
Test it with the same people if they are up for it and see their current reactions.
Are you looking for donations? Discover my 12 tips to improve your donation page!
14. Create a feedback loop
If they give you a thumbs up, create a system to capture every voice of the following people you will test. You will never stop listening to your customers. So it is essential to set up something systematic to ensure you hear their voices and incorporate that into improving your nature venture.
15. Design a brand
No, you don’t have to be the next Nike right away. But think briefly about what colors you want to use, what the logo should be, etc. It will make it easier for people to recognize you. The book “Brand the Change” is a masterclass and takes you step by step through the process.
16. Develop a website
Building a website got much easier. You can build websites quickly with tools like Shopify, Carrd, WordPress & etc. The website is the home to share your ideas with the world.
17. Do the admin
When you feel confident enough to charge people for your services, the not-so-fun part needs to be dealt with. You need to register your company / NGO. You also need to open a bank account to receive the money.
18. Make it easy to pay
I can’t stress this enough. Make it as easy as possible for people to pay you for your services, products, etc. People don’t know you. They will worry enough about your product. Don’t make them upset or lose time to pay for it. Stripe is a great way to do it.
19. Pick a marketing channel
No, you don’t have to use social media. There are many more channels like newsletters, lead magnets, cold outreach, SEO, etc. So, pick the one you feel most comfortable with to spread the word about your new nature venture.
20. Start selling
You won’t get far away even with the most significant marketing hacks because no one knows about you. So your personal selling skills will be required. You have 100s of contacts spread through your telephone contacts, socials, etc. Write them directly and ask them if they know someone who could benefit from your nature venture.
If you follow these steps, I am confident you will find your first paying customers.
From there on, it is a piece of cake. You “just” need to:
- constantly improve your product;
- find more people to support you;
- create the value that convinces them to give you money.
No, I’m kidding. It’s f*cking hard. But, so worth it.
You will make the world wilder, and that is why I share all of this with you.
Now, this was a quick run through it. There is obviously more to it and plenty of nuances.
🦌 Looking for the best tools and resources to make your organization thrive?
Download our free Biodiversity Hero OS and discover the best support materials available!
Your turn: let’s create your green startup or NGO
3 actions to start your sustainable business or NGO
1. Analyze how much time you have to initiate the first steps
Reflect on how much time you can dedicate to this weekly. Start small and grow from there.
2. Check how much money you can put into starting a sustainable business
Reflect on how much money you have & need for the idea. Some ideas are more expensive than others. Remember, the idea is to roll this out gradually; testing should be cheap!
3. Just start
These are the only 2 key pieces of info you need. The rest is all about following the steps to get towards your first paying & donating supporters.
Cheat sheet for starting your ecopreneur journey
The most useful tools to start a sustainable business
- Building a digital second brain: Notion;
- Creating beautiful surveys: Typeform;
- Designing prototypes: Figma;
- Finding pitch deck templates: Base Templates;
- Using the best sustainable business model canvas template: Sustainable Business Model Canvas;
- Choosing a website builder: Shopify, Carrd, WordPress;
- Finding a coach for your mental fitness: Wildya.
Great books for anyone who want to create a successful Nature venture or NGO
- Business Model Generation, Alexander Osterwalder;
- Start it up, Luke Johnson;
- Build, Tony Fadell;
- 100M Offers, Alex Hormozi;
- Brand the change, Anne Miltenburg.
The road can seem long before starting, but just take the first step today. This is not magic.
You can be part of creating a wilder world, and I hope these 20 steps have shown you that you can do this and how to start a sustainable business, too.
We need people like you more than ever to tackle the biodiversity crisis. So join us!
Wishing you a wild week!
P.S. If you found this newsletter helpful, consider sharing it with fellow ecopreneurs. Together, we can create a wilder world!
🦧 Whenever you are ready, there are 2 ways Wild Business Mates can help you grow and double your impact:
1.1-to-1 business consulting. Detailed and personalized consulting to double the impact of your biodiversity organization in the shortest possible time. Book a free intro call.
2. Wild Business Mates in Action. Wild Business Mates help you execute in areas you are struggling with. Tech, Marketing, Sales, Communication, etc. We can realize all the steps I mentioned above.”