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Economy

Now we are three: winning the entrepreneurial war of attrition

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The survival rate of a newly born enterprise in its first three years is around two-thirds. This drops to well under half at the five-year mark. Blue & Green Tomorrow happily marks its third birthday by being part of the happy two-thirds that survive. Now comes the hard bit.

Our initial vision was that we wanted the world to be as ‘blue and green tomorrow’ as it was yesterday. After all, there is no plan(et) B. We would write about sustainability: investment, energy, travel and spending. Investment was key as financial trade eclipses all other activity. However, most people find investment mind-numbingly dull, so we’d write about how to spend money sustainably, too.

We wouldn’t preach and we certainly wouldn’t suggest there is only one way of thinking about these issues. We would be fair, optimistic and responsible, unlike many in the media. Our hope would be to amplify the message of those already working in sustainability – not to steal their thunder but to intensify it.

Launching a new business in a financial storm

In recent years the survival rate of new business has dropped, mainly due to the credit crisis, seizing up of business lending by the very banks who caused the crisis, falling consumer confidence and demand.

If your start-up was one year old in 2006, you were one of 97% that had weathered the first year’s trials and tribulations. If you were one in 2010, you were one of only 87%. In real terms, just over 9,000 newly born enterprises failed between 2005 and 2006 of 256,000 start-ups. Thirty-one thousand of 235,000 failed between 2008 and 2009. Far fewer start-ups and greater failure is not a recipe for economic growth. That’s 31,000 dreams smashed and precious savings spent.

Blue & Green Tomorrow was launched in 2010, in the centre of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. “I have had an idea” are the five seemingly innocent words that most partners of entrepreneurial types dread. Fortunately and quite remarkably my wife is incredibly patient, loyal and supportive and also believes.

After years in leading media companies, a smorgasbord of marble-floored financial institutions, a few stints running my own businesses and then working in others’ start-ups, I was ready to enter the pit once more and launch a new venture. The idea was a fusion of media and investment, with a focus on sustainability.

Remember, remember the fifth of November

Taking a contrarian approach in the digital age we went for a print magazine as our launch vehicle, as anyone and a smartphone can launch a blog. David Tebbutt joined as our launch editor, having been a brilliant technology, cleantech and sustainability writer for several years.

Issue one was launched on November 5 2010, a date made famous by its iconoclastic (anti-)hero, Guido Fawkes. By happy chance this launch date coincided with the start of National Ethical Investment Week 2010. Serendipity was on our side. Or was it?

War of the words

Little did I know when I launched B&GT, that someone else had had the same idea. (With apologies to HG Welles.)

“No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our idea was being watched by those with resources far greater than our own; that as we busied ourselves about our various concerns, ‘they’ observed and studied, the way a man with a microscope might scrutinise the creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.

“With infinite complacency, we went to and fro about the investment industry, confident of our potential success in this sector. Yet across the gulf of London, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our business with envious eyes and slowly, and surely, drew their plans against us.”

Just as Blue & Green Tomorrow was launched, Worldwise Investor came into life, too. Thus began a gradual war of attrition for readers and funding. Our burn rate was considerable and we got five print issues out of the door before we decided we needed a serious rethink. The heroic effort of producing and funding the print version was draining resources from our pretty poor online presence and our principal competitor was hammering us.

Click to read all five print issues of Blue & Green Tomorrow

So in a radical change of strategy, we took five months off and relaunched in October 2011, this time fully online. Building a team of paid interns, one of whom is now the magazine’s editor, we started to rebuild and the traffic grew, and grew. Slowly at first and then it gathered pace.

To the end of October 2011 we had mustered an insignificant 3,000 unique online readers. To the end of October 2012, we had 38,000. This year we had 158,000 – a quarter of whom (40,000) read us regularly.

One of the best innovations of B&GT v2.0 was the launch of our in-depth guide series. The charge was led by David’s successor as editor, Rich Whitworth, who came up with the style, look and feel we have today.

Click to read all Blue & Green Tomorrow guides

Take-off?

Our current editor, Alex Blackburne, took over in the summer of 2012 and has led the charge ever since, at times single-handedly. And it’s been impressive.

In 2012, on the occasion of our second anniversary, I wrote, “At times, I feel like the King of Swamp Castle from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. For those not familiar with the film, he was a tenacious fellow, “When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up. And that’s what you’re going to get, Lad, the strongest castle in these isles.” 

It still feels a bit like that today. I’m not sure if this is the third or fourth castle, but hopefully we have the strongest sustainable investment magazine in these isles.

Thank you to everyone who has written for us, helped us pro bono, funded us and read us. Alex, Charlotte, Ilaria, Nicky, Seth and Tom are indebted for your continued unflinching support.

And Worldwise Investor? Well we bought them in August this year.

Further reading:

The situation is gloomy – but we can make the world better

The time for change is now

Stepping down from the sustainability soapbox

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Economy

Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance

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“The level of influence that ethical considerations have over consumer selection of financial services products and services is minimal, however, this is beginning to change. Younger consumers are more willing to pay extra for products provided by socially responsible companies.” Jessica Morley, Mintel’s Financial Services Analyst.

Consumer awareness of the impact consumerism has on society and the planet is increasing. In addition, the link between doing good and feeling good has never been clearer. Just 19% of people claim to not participate in any socially responsible activities.

As a result, the level of attention that people pay to the green and ethical claims made by products and providers is also increasing, meaning that such considerations play a greater role in the purchasing decision making process.

However, this is less true in the context of financial services, where people are much more concerned about the performance of a product rather than green and ethical factors. This is not to say, however, that they are not interested in the behaviour of financial service providers or in gaining more information about how firms behave responsibly.

This report focuses on why these consumer attitudes towards financial services providers exist and how they are changing. This includes examination of the wider economy and the current structure of the financial services sector.

Mintel’s exclusive consumer research looks at consumer participation in socially responsible activities, trust in the behaviour of financial services companies and attitudes towards green, ethical and socially responsible financial services products and providers. The report also considers consumer attitudes towards the social responsibilities of financial services firms and the green, ethical and socially responsible nature of new entrants.

There are some elements missing from this report, such as conducting socially responsible finance with OTC trading. We will cover these other topics in more detail in the future. You can research about Ameritrade if you want to know more ..

By this report today: call: 0203 416 4502 | email: iainooson[at]mintel.com

Report contents:

OVERVIEW
What you need to know
Report definition
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The market
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
The consumer
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Competition from technology companies
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
What we think
ISSUES AND INSIGHTS
Creating a more inclusive economy
The facts
The implications
Payments innovation helps fundraising go digital
The facts
The implications
The social debt of the financial crisis
The facts
The implications
THE MARKET – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
PUTTING FINANCIAL SERVICES IN AN ETHICAL CONTEXT
An ethical economy
An ethical financial sector
Ethical financial services providers
GREEN, ETHICAL AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ISSUES IN FINANCIAL SERVICES
The role of investing
Divestment
The change potential of pensions
The role of trust
Greater transparency informs decisions
Learning from past mistakes
The role of innovation
Payments innovation: Improving financial inclusion
Competition from new entrants
The power of new money
The role of the consumer
Consumers empowered to make a change
Aligning products with self
THE CONSUMER – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
For financial products, performance is more important than ethics
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Competition from technology companies
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
Overall trust levels are high
THE ETHICAL CONSUMER – SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ACTIVITIES
Payments innovation can boost charitable donations
Consumer engagement in socially responsible activities is high
Healthier finances make it easier to go green
SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE COMPANIES
37% unable to identify socially responsible companies
Building societies seen to be more responsible than banks….
….whilst short-term loan companies are at the bottom of the pile
CONSUMER TRUST IN THE BEHAVIOUR OF FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES
Overall trust levels are high
Tax avoidance remains a major concern
The divestment movement
Nationwide significantly more trusted
Trust levels remain high
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS GREEN AND ETHICAL FINANCIAL PRODUCTS
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Socially conscious consumers are more concerned
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS TRANSPARENCY
Strategy reports provide little insight for consumers
Lack of clarity regarding corporate culture causes concern
Consumers want more information
THE ROLE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS IN SOCIETY
The social debt of the financial crisis
THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS
For consumers, financial services firms play larger economic role
Promoting financial responsibility
CHALLENGER COMPANIES AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Consumer trust is built on evidence
The alternative opportunity
The target customer

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