The 5 Secrets for a Successful Green Business Plan

Planning Your Way to Green Business Success
Mar 30, 2010 2:00 PM ET
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The 5 Secrets for a Successful Green Business Plan

Green businesses provide a powerful opportunity to make money and make a difference in the world. Every day I talk with green entrepreneurs and small business owners driven by the desire to build a better world, but sometimes good intentions are not enough. If you want your green business to reach its goals you need to take care of fundamentals like planning, and take care of it well. I recently met with Tim Cassidy of Green Business, who shared his secrets for creating a green business plan that will get you where you want to go. 

A good business plan clarifies your thinking about your business, making it clear where you want to go and how you’ll get there, and can be essential for securing investment. While people are often intimidated by business plans and do their best to avoid it, they don’t have to do it on their own. They can get help from experts like Tim Cassidy, CEO at, starting with a free initial consultation about your plan.   Tim has worked for years helping people from many different industries, and is now helping a broad range of green businesses with business planning and raising money. He knows his stuff and he’s the kind of guy who comes right out and tells you what he thinks, providing honest constructive criticism. Tim helps business owners and entrepreneurs to put together plans, strategies, and funding for businesses in a wide range of green businesses, including solar, wind, biofuels, clothing, cleaning, building, eco-travel, organic food, and many other fields.    When Tim sits down and looks over business plan folks send him, he often finds similar challenges. The most common problems with green business plans include:   1) Too Much Use of Templates and Software                                A plan created from a software template typically falls far short of your business needs, often reflecting the deficiencies of the template you start with.  Presenting investors with a plan obviously derived from a template will not impress them. If your business is creating a unique business installing water conservation hardware for landscaping in the high end residential market, your plan should be as unique as your business is.   2)  The Executive Summary is Missing   Not everyone has time to read a full business plan so you’ll need a short version, an executive summary, to send first. “Most investors or lenders only want to read an Executive Summary and then, if interested, they will ask for the complete business plan,” says Cassidy.  If you are developing a solar installer business, summarize in the clearest terms what your mission is, where your business stands today, and your goals for the future. The more concrete and to the point, the better.     3) Insufficient Market Analysis   “Market Analysis including Market Penetration and Competitive Analysis almost always fall far short of the type of depth analysis investors expect in plans we receive,” Cassidy says.  Reaching the market with your business requires crystalline clarity about what your business is all about. If you have a solar business, what market niche are you targeting, how large is that market, and how much of this market can you take? Who are your competitors in this niche? You need to have clear and substantiated answers in your plan for all of this.    4) Financial Projections Are Thin   “Internal financial projections usually fall far short in meeting the needs and expectations of either a senior executive at a lender and his ‘bean-counter’ or an investor and his trusted accountant,” says Cassidy.   Even if your mission relates to the health of the planet, you business still needs clear financials that show how they’ll make money. Sticking to the expected format for financials and providing sufficient details like notes on assumptions will allow quick edits for investors or banks.    5) The Plan is Not Understandable to People In Other Fields   Not everyone will be as immersed in green as you are. If you’re in the business of green building supplies, the potential of the green building market may seem obvious to you but it won’t be for everyone. “You are so close to your business that it is easy to assume others know the same important details about your industry and company,” says Cassidy. You may not sufficiently define items such as the competition or industry resources like reports from the US Green Building Council.     All of these errors can be readily fixed with a little help from an experienced hand like Tim. The better your plan us, the quicker you'll get where you want to go.  Getting help from experts is a great investment if it helps you achieve your vision of green business success for yourself and for us all.    Contact: Glenn Croston, Starting Up Green (858) 997-7984 

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