As Founder and Editor in Chief of a blog about green business marketing, I’m intrigued by social entrepreneur success stories and have been engaging in conversations with successful triple bottom line businesses on secrets to success.
Of the many green businesses that have crossed my desk at Green Marketing TV, I love the story of Green Earth Bamboo, because who wouldn’t love to have that 6 figure green online business that “makes money while you sleep” while you work from home?
Green Earth Bamboo is a family run e-commerce business that sells organic bamboo bedding, clothing, bath towels, baby clothes and accessories. It’s a drop shipping business that is entirely virtual and home based, which saves the brother and sister team, Doug and Corey, a tremendous amount of time and money in shipping and warehousing costs.
Green Earth Bamboo was their first green business and e-commerce venture, so Doug and Corey had to learn everything from scratch – from researching their sustainable product, to evaluating and selecting their e-commerce platform, to vetting and managing suppliers, to learning search engine optimization (SEO), and handling customer service.
After the initial legwork of building up their site, it took only 1 year for Green Earth Bamboo to become profitable, and generate 6 figures in income. Now, the site requires 10 hours of work a week – not quite the 4 hour work week, but not bad either!
3 keys to starting a green internet business
When it comes to the nitty gritty of what it took to launch and grow their 6 figure green Internet business, Doug is an open book. Here’s some key advice to other green entrepreneurs who are thinking about starting an Internet based green business that drop ships eco-friendly products:
- Do your market research. A critical aspect of determining whether or not you have a viable business idea or business model is evaluate the demand for your product or service. The easiest way to evaluate demand is through keyword research. Keyword research will not only show you how many people are searching for your product or service a month, you can tell if there is money in the niche by the number of Google Ads that appear. Keyword research is also the foundation for your e-commerce website, so you need to become well versed with keyword research, as this is a great skill set to have if you plan on having any kind of internet business. You can start with the Google Keyword Tool or follow a free tutorial on keyword research, which you can easily find on YouTube. You may also want to invest in educational products on how to do keyword research and SEO effectively.
- Research the heck out of every vendor. Start by compiling a list of vendors that carry the products you wish to sell. Then break it down to which ones will handle shipping for you (aka “drop ship”). Take that list and create a list of questions to ask each vendor and narrow it down from there. I highly suggest looking for reviews, forums, references of any sort to see what sort of feedback other businesses have on those vendors. Check out how long they have been in business, how many vendors/retailers they currently work with, certainly how and where their products are being manufactured, and compile a short list of your top picks. One of the biggest questions we had was how well they keep their products in stock. One thing you don’t want is to have a bunch of your product pages showing as “out of stock,” providing you have an online store.
- Don’t go down the marketing product rabbit hole. SEO and other web promotion strategies will be the cornerstone of your Internet business. Don’t go down the endless rabbit hole of shiny new SEO products or services, most of which will have little effect on your site. Instead, focus on creating content that people will want to link to, and building a social presence organically, and you’ll be way ahead of your competition.
More juicy green business tips from Green Earth Bamboo
If you want to hear the entire story of what it took to build and grow Green Earth Bamboo, listen to my one hour long interview Doug Bancorn, which is posted to the home page of the Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit, or by instant download, if you register for the event.
In this exclusive, business insider reveal, you will discover:
- How many hours a week it takes to get a new e-commerce business off the ground
- Tips on researching your market niche so you know there is enough demand for your eco product or service
- 5 criteria you should use when selecting your drop shipping suppliers
- Keys to selecting the best e-commerce platform for your business
- How to turn your blog from time suck to Google ranking machine
- Powerful link building strategies to help you outrank your competitors and even your suppliers
The Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit
The Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit is a FREE virtual, week long, alternative Green MBA, featuring the visionary leaders who are DEFINING the green economy and ethical marketplace, plus marketing gurus who will help you take your business to the next level. Here are the details:
April 16-20 Earth Week 2012
To get access to the free calls, please register:
Who Should Attend
- Established green business owners and green business professionals
- Mission driven entrepreneurs who believe in sustainability
- Green marketers & green product designers
- Forward thinking intrapraneurs driving corporate sustainability initiatives
- Early stage green startup entrepreneurs
- Aspiring green and social entrepreneurs researching innovative business ideas
- Changemakers seeking to unite purpose, passion and profit
What You Will Learn
- Evaluating the Green Marketplace & Identifying Your Niche
- Developing Your Visionary Business Idea
- Telling Your Sustainability Story and Avoiding Greenwash
- Raising Capital Through Business Plan Competitions, Crowdfunding & VC Investment
- Social Media Marketing Strategies for Socially Responsible Business
- Marketing Your Business on a Bootstrap Budget
Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit speakers include: Marcos Cordero, CEO of the Green Business Bureau; Steven Hoffman, Co-Founder of the LOHAS Journal & LOHAS Forum; KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, CEO & Founder of Sustainable Life Media & Sustainable Brands Conference; Alisa Gravitz, Executive Director Green America & Green Festivals; Shel Horowitz, Author of Guerilla Marketing Goes Green; Scott Cooney, Founder of GreenBusinessOwner.com; Jacquie Ottman, Author of The New Rules of Green Marketing; Elena Christopoulos, Executive Director of the Green Chamber of Commerce; Nikki Pava, Co-Founder of EcoTuesday & Founder of Alegria Partners, and more.
Lorna Li is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Green Marketing TV. She is the host of the Entrepreneurs for a Change Podcast and the Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit. Lorna specializes in Social Media SEO, the art of using social media to increase web visibility and search engine rankings. She works with socially responsible business owners as an Internet Marketing Business Coach.