5 Easy Ways To Be An Eco-Friendly Entrepreneur

Nature Chair

Earth Day is almost here! This holiday has brought out the green in people since the 1970’s, but one day isn’t enough. The environment is affected most by the little choices we make every day. Planting a tree or recycling more are nice initiatives, but incorporating sustainable practices into our daily and business operations has an even greater impact.

As entrepreneurs we’re very busy, and time is money. You may think that your business is too small to bother about being green, but earth-friendly choices are actually good for the pocket book as well. And getting involved with local green initiatives can be a great way to build a positive reputation and valuable contacts in the community.

5 Easy Ways To Be An Eco-Friendly Entrepreneur

1. Go Paperless – Printer paper and ink are an unnecessary expense in this digital world. Except when it’s absolutely essential, create all documents and marketing materials in a digital form, and store them in the cloud. Send and receive virtual faxes rather than paper ones. Send your invoices via email rather than mailing them. Send digital PDF proofs instead of print outs. When you must create a hard copy of something, always print double sided.

2. Go Virtual – It’s nice to have face to face meetings, but driving or flying is expensive and leaves a huge carbon footprint. Thanks to free technologies like Skype or Google+ Hangouts, it’s possible to see and be seen by out of town clients without the hassle of traveling.

3. Go Gasless – Since most of us have local clients, it’s not always smart to avoid face to face meetings. But there’s still no reason to get your car involved. Fort Collins is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, so why use four wheels when two will do? Not only will you save on gas, but you’ll never have to worry about finding a parking spot when you’re running late.

4. Go Shareably – Think before you buy, especially if it’s something that you only need for a few hours or days. Cohere creates the perfect environment for recycling things you no longer need or scoring things that would have otherwise been thrown away. Before buying that new office chair, pedal crank, or bunt pan, throw up a request on the Cohere Facebook Group (if you’re a Cohere member and have not yet been added, tell us!). Chance are, we’ve got one lying around.

5. Go Local – Being an entrepreneur has lots of benefits, not the least of which is complete control of your supply chain and the clients with whom you work. This probably goes without saying, but choosing local businesses for office supplies, catering, web hosting, graphic design, copy writing, marketing, legal advice, or happy hour is the single most important way to go green (Hint: a lot of these business owners sit right next to you!). Keeping it in town enhances the local economy, reduces carbon emissions from shipping, allows you to choose sustainable materials, and builds good karma.

Image via opensourceway/Flickr

 

Best of Cohere: Why A Coworking Space Is Important To The Local Economy

Coworking Space 

There are some who still view coworking as a a quirky niche instead of the future of work. That might be hard for those of us who love coworking to believe, but important for us to remember as we try to grow our communities.

While it’s true that coworking isn’t for everyone, and certainly doesn’t work for every industry (we still need grocery stores and plumbers), coworking can serve as both a model and a hub for creating better communities at large.

Most people can imagine what shared office space looks like. It’s harder to understand the larger economic benefits of participating in such a space until you experience it first hand.

If you’re on the fence about joining a coworking space, here are some big picture positive impacts to think about.

Coworking Keeps Stellar Talent In Town

Coworking spaces are “office buildings” for those who had the talent (and balls) to create their own job in a crappy economy. Without coworking, many in mid-sized urban areas like Fort Collins would have to commute or move their families to bigger cities with more opportunities. Coworking helps them stay in town, preserving their money, talent, and enthusiasm for use in the local economy.

Coworking Supports Small Business

Don’t let the mega-corps fool you: they are not job creators. They employ people only because it’s necessary for the creation and dissemination of their products and services, not because they want to revitalize a town. Small to mid-sized businesses are the lifeblood of a local economy. They live and work and shop locally, and give a crap about the personal lives of their employees.

Shocking fact: 95% of coworking desks are occupied by a small business. (Ok I made that stat up, but you get the picture — most). It might be a freelance writer who just formed her LLC or couple of buddies who decided to create their own design company. Either way, these businesses are driving down unemployment rates at a time when multi-billion dollar companies are still laying people off. Joining a coworking space means these tiny businesses will have a safe place to grow and learn from more experienced members. When’s the last time you saw Wal-Mart swapping trade secrets with the new family-owned retailer?

Coworking Creates A Network For Collaborative Consumption

The quest for bigger, better, faster has crippled our economy. People are tired of keeping up with the Jones’ and just want to keep their families fed. Collaborative consumption means reusing, growing, renting, bartering and making instead of buying. But the sharing economy demands a network of friendly, trustworthy people to make it work. Like the people who work right next to you in a coworking space.

Yes, coworking allows you to share your professional expertise and network with other successful freelancers. But you could do that at a once a month meetup. What makes coworking unique is the sharing that takes place on a personal level–be it a potluck meal or vegetable seeds or a ride to a conference in Denver.

When a community is connected and open to sharing, people save money, learn new skills, and reduce their impact on the environment. New ideas emerge, problems are solved in creative ways, and the community at large reaps all the rewards of a happy independent workforce.

What other “trickle-down” benefits have you seen in the coworking community? Share your experience in a comment!

And if you’ve got friends who are still unsure that coworking is worth the monthly investment, share your experience (and this article) with them as well!

 Image Credit: Flickr – mdanys

Want To Support The 99%? Occupy Your Local Coworking Space

Occupy Wall Street unicorn

The Occupy Wall Street protests have attracted lots of media and social media attention over the last five weeks. In cities and towns across the nation, people are gathering together to voice their opinion on systems they think are broken and share their vision for a better country.

Yes, many of the issues #OWS seeks to address are political and polarizing, and no, I’m not going to try to convince you to carry a sign or camp out in a park. Coworking is a way of life, and at the core of these issues are things near and dear to the heart of every coworker:

The importance of a community that shares its time and resources; the belief that small, independent businesses are essential to a strong local economy; and the vision of a world where independence and innovation are rewarded with the respect and salary they deserve.

Just today, the Cohere Community learned that former-member Suzanne Akin’s home had been destroyed in a fire. Without any prompting or pleading, the community mobilized itself to communicate needs and offer help. This is a perfect example of the myriad non-tangible benefits that come from belonging to a community like ours.

Just like our country, Cohere is going through tough, tumultuous times. Just like our economy, we’re not sure what the future holds or where the money will come from. But just like the Occupy Wall Street movement, I believe that the answers will come from you, the people.

That’s why I’m asking you to Occupy Cohere.

In the second issue of the Occupied Wall Street Journal (yes, it has its own newspaper–completely funded by a Kickstarter campaign), there’s a full page editorial that reads, “We are speaking to each other, and listening. This occupation is first about participation.”

None of the seemingly-impossible things that #OWS hopes to accomplish will happen if people refuse to leave their comfort zones and get out there on the street to talk about it.

None of the amazing feats of community that we’ve experienced at Cohere will continue unless EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US agrees to leave our warm houses and coffee-shop offices and come back to the wavy tables.

To entice you back and get you talking, we’ve planned an entire week of Occupy Cohere events starting November 7th. Tell your clients and your friends. Get excited about what you’ve been missing. Bring your talent, your sense of humor, and your lovely face back to Cohere. The future of our community depends on it!

Occupy Cohere Events

Monday 11/7: Free Coworking Day Kick Off, 9a-4p
Tuesday 11/8: New member coffee social: all members who have joined Cohere in the past 4 months are invited to get to know one another, 10am
Wednesday 11/9: Night Coworking ‘Free for All’, 4p-10p
Thursday 11/10: Pancake Breakfast at Snooze: guided discussion on a set topic, 7:30am-8:30a
Friday 11/11: Frank Friday: show and tell us about a project you are working on OR get feedback on a business problem, 12p-1p

Got an idea for a neat Occupy Cohere event (can be planned any time)? Share it in a comment, or with Angel directly.

Image Credit: Flickr – shankbone

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