I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my sustainable business CONCENTR8ED. My eco-friendly and sustainable business launched on 24 November, also known as Green Tuesday, last year. It’s been the hardest and most rewarding project of my life. So read on to find out how it happened.
My eco entrepreneurial journey
I’ve always had the dream of working for myself. I’m not very good at taking orders without questioning things. And I especially struggle to carry out tasks “the way they’ve always been done” – especially when I know there’s a better way. But I thought owning a business would be something I’d explore later in life.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial energy about me. I started my first business (if you could call it that) when I was 13. One of my friend’s mum had a makeup business and she explained to me that she bought the makeup in bulk and then resold it individually to make a profit. I went home that night and took the money I’d saved from delivering brochures each week. It was the only job I could legally get before turning 14.
I bought a small wholesale order of makeup with every cent I had. Once it arrived, I took nice photos with my mum’s digital camera and uploaded them to eBay with very appealing descriptions. I had no idea what I was doing, but I thought if I just add 10% on top of what I paid for the make up, it’ll be worth my time. I ended up losing all my profits on an order of counterfeit makeup, so that was the end of that.
Since then, I’d had lots of different business ideas but never seemed to follow them through. I’d think up an idea, create the Instagram page and buy a website domain. I’d scrawl down notes and do some research. Then life would get in the way and I’d just never seem to follow it through. I realised it’s because I was trying to create a business to make money, instead of trying to create a solution to a problem.
My sustainable business idea
Stop paying for water is the tagline of my eco-friendly business CONCENTR8ED because that’s the problem I wanted to solve. I realised this is a problem that needs solving three years ago. At that time, I was paying an eye-watering amount of rent for a crappy London apartment with zero storage space and trying to reduce my plastic waste.
I was constantly tossing empty plastic bottles from shampoo, dishwashing liquid, body moisturiser, bathroom spray etc. But considering only 9% of plastic has ever been recycled, I knew these bottles likely wouldn’t be. Then while researching zero waste swaps, I learnt that liquid products are 60-95% water.
I began looking for concentrated options so I could save money. But there weren’t many natural and non-toxic options that were affordable. Finally, I’d found an eco-friendly problem that needed solving.
Starting a sustainable business
The other problem that needed solving was that I had no idea how to start a business like this. My 13-year-old makeup business taught me some basic skills about generating a profit. But I was totally clueless when it came to creating a unique retail product and starting a brand.
I needed to learn some new skills so I invested in an online course. It was by far the biggest investment I’d ever made in myself, more than one month’s rent. So many people are resistant to invest in things like education, especially because there are so many free resources online. My advice to you would be: you don’t know what you don’t know. The best thing about online courses is that they’re often created by someone who has already done what you want to do. They create the course in hindsight with everything they wish they’d known at the time.
READ MORE: Why glass is BAD for the environment
Yes, you can slug it out and teach yourself with YouTube and Google. But what about the things you don’t even know exist? How can you Google a topic or concept when you don’t know about it? This is why I’m such a big believer in online education. It’s much cheaper than a university degree, more up to date and has changed my life. I studied journalism and have zero formal training when it comes to business. Yet with one online course, I’ve been able to develop my own products, launch a business and scale a brand.
There’s an online course for just about everything and it’s much cheaper than business school. There’s no way I would have found the success I have without the course I invested in. And it has already paid for itself!
Scaling a sustainable business
When you’re preparing to launch a business, you think it’s the most difficult and stressful time in your life. Then after launch day, you realise running and scaling a business is even more so! That’s where the benefit of creating a passion-based business lies.
Every eco bar sold eliminates the need for approximately 3 plastic bottles. That is what gets me out of bed and keeps me working till late in the evening. In the 5 months since I’ve launched, CONCENTR8ED has already prevented the need for nearly 3000 plastic bottles. Wanting to continue growing that number is what keeps me going.
Now that CONCENTR8ED is more established, I’m focusing a lot more on where I want the business to go. I’m going through some big life changes after moving back to Australia, but I’m going to give it my all. I want to get to the point where there’s a plastic-free concentrate of just about every watered-down product we currently buy in plastic bottles.
Sustainable business Mindset
I’m by no means a business expert yet. But I’ve also had to let go of a lot of my bad feelings about money, many of which are exacerbated by green living. Wanting to make money and own a business does NOT make you greedy or a bad person – especially if you’re doing so in an ethical way.
We live in a system where we need to generate an income of some sort – unless you want to live on a self-sufficient homestead, which isn’t really my jam. Something that really changed my money mindset was an event with Sandra Merrill from Swell Advisors. She pointed out that money = impact for a sustainable business. This blew my mind! The more money CONCENTR8ED can make means the more plastic-free concentrates we can develop which means the more plastic bottles we can save. It also means less money going towards big businesses who are polluting our environment and only interested in profits.
We all have to make money to exist in this world. Wouldn’t you rather be spending your days ethically making money by providing products and services that will positively benefit our planet? I know I would!
Eco Action Step
If my eco CEO story piqued your interest, download my free guide with 17 eco-friendly side hustles to ethically make extra money above. Eco-friendly side hustles are a great way to add some additional income while getting a taste of what running a business is like. Each eco side hustle idea has an outline as well as steps to get started with little to no upfront investment.