A recent study, undertaken as a collaboration between Green America, EcoVentures International, and Association for Enterprise Opportunity, has found that sales of green products by small businesses increased during the 2008-2011 recession. The report, “The Big Green Opportunity For Small Businesses in the U.S.”, surveyed 1,300 small business owners, the majority of whom were adamant that selling green products and services gave them a crucial competitive advantage that helped them make it through the economic downturn. These findings demonstrate that offering green goods and services is not only something that larger enterprises can profit from, small businesses can also become more robust and successful by tapping into this increasingly mainstream market.
This study is the first to look at the green economy from the standpoint of small business owners. The results make it clear that going green is no longer something that small businesses can afford to not do. Over 60% of the business owners interviewed said that they have gone green because it is a competitive advantage requirement in their field. As well as the goods and services sold, the study also found that the greener the practices of a company, the higher their green sales gains. It is apparent that many consumers are concerned with the production and life cycle impacts of the products or service they buy.
One cautionary note regarding the results of the study is that it was based on interviews with business owners rather than hard data. This makes the results more subjective and fallible, however, it also provides an interesting perspective regarding the motives of those surveyed. The results indicate that green practices helped small businesses survive the recession. As the economy picks up once more, businesses with a head start in these practices are likely to reap rewards.