October 18, 2007, 10:05 am http://blogs.wsj.com/independentstreet/2007/10/18/going-green-not-an-entrepreneurs-priority/
Going Green–Not An Entrepreneur’s Priority?
Posted by Wendy Bounds
Last night I took a look at a survey coming out today by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a group with 6,600 members worldwide with collectively about $100 billion in annual sales. The focus was basically “What Matters Most To Me.”
The surprise headline is that while the mainstream media is blaring “going green,” that’s not top of mind for the members surveyed in this crew. Neither are energy prices.
And hang the bathrobe back in the closet. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents say 10% or fewer of their employees telecommute regularly (two or more days a week).
Plus, despite the predictions of some economists, the majority of this clan isn’t convinced that the economy is on the upswing. About 57% say it will stay the same or slow down. What they DO care about is less of a shocker: the upcoming election and the impact of rising health-care costs.
You can read the full survey here. The sample was 347 U.S. EO members.
I asked EO’s president, Shelby Scarbrough, why the media’s message doesn’t square with her group’s concerns:
“Entrepreneurs are known for being cutting-edge and innovative when it comes to new ways of working, but the bottom line seems to be that it’s traditional benefits like competitive salaries and health-care coverage that really help business owners find and keep good employees.”
But what about this environmental ambivalence? I don’t go a day without a pitch about an entrepreneur’s green props.
“These results were really surprising to me…. It made me wonder how our members in other parts of the world would have answered this question. A fellow EO board member, Sunjay Kapur of Sixt, India, [who owns a car-rental company] even includes a note in his email signature urging recipients to avoid printing out the email if at all possible….
“Even entrepreneurs with established businesses still occasionally struggle with challenges as basic as making payroll during a month when the accounts receivables are stacking up, so they’re focused on day-to-day business survival issues. If it were clear that being green would be competitive and cost efficient, I think more businesses would rise to the occasion.”
Along these lines, there’s an interesting column this morning about the struggles to make a market for eco-fashion.
Do these findings mirror what’s happening at your firm? Is going green more marketing hype than good business?
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Wendy, as a member of EO, I don’t think I responded to the survey but I think there are pretty fundamental reasons why entrepreneurs don’t telecommute. Part of why people work in entrepreneurial environments is because of the energy, intensity and passion that comes with building something yourself. We all carry many hats inside of our companies, often the environments are incredibly dynamic and if you are at home, you miss a great deal of what happens.
As for fuel expenses, my business is definitely impacted by higher fuel costs. We have 20-30 trucks driving 100 to 250 miles/day and the incremental fuel expenses hurt. Having said that, I think healthcare costs are the most out of control expense that we face as young company. The money we spend to insure our employees and their families is directly dollars that we don’t spend on marketing, sales and hiring more employees. Our healthcare costs are hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and while that may not be a big number for a Fortune 500 company that is highly profitable, that is a major drain on us. Since entrepreneurial companies and the engine that fuels employment in this company, I can only imagine the additional employment that would occur if we could use some of the money we spend in health insurance on growing our businesses.
Comment by Trevor Price- NYC EO Member – October 18, 2007 at 12:05 pm
As a member of EO, I’d like to respond to the aspect of thinking Green. Our lighting division at ADGLighting.com definitely recommends to our clients, that utilizing LED bulbs is far more efficient than Compact Fluorescent for their decorative lighting that we manufacture. However, as a replacement in existing lighting it still is not the most usable; because of the LED’s ability to throw light. That is why, when we advise or consult on projects we must make sure that “greening” it up is truly beneficial and not just a marketing term.By the by, I got rid of my huge SUV and now drive a Luxury Lexus that gets incredible gas mileage (liking it too), outsource with a variety of companies that can provide more efficient services, created a leaner staff operation and provide the option for telecommuting. I also have a showroom that is part of a space that the owners, (another L.A. EO member), thinks Green and we support consumerism that does not create as much waste as we did in the past.In addition to ‘Greening it up’, from a personal level my family truly tries to keep the waste to a minimum, the time with family to a maximum and to provide as much in community give-back. We have even had discussions with our Insurance Company at C.M. Meiers (another L.A. EO member) about being greener and the impact it has on operations and insurances.Thinking Green, thinking sustainable is at least our Entrepreneurial momentum, and even though the survey may say different surrounding myself with sustainable options will hopefully make a difference in an all around healthier lifestyle.
Comment by Gerald Olesker, CEO Architectural Detail Group, Inc, L.A.EO member – October 18, 2007 at 2:45 pm