6 Characteristics of Exceptionally Successful Climate Entrepreneurs

Building a business tackling climate change is no small task.

Not only are you facing the usual challenges of running a startup, which is incredibly difficult regardless of industry, but you also have the ever-increasing urgency of our impending climate crisis hanging over your head as part of the price of failure.

If you’ve chosen to take on this heroic task, you may possess some of the 6 traits we’ve come to refer to as The Determined Mindset.

There’s a unique set of personality traits, values, and beliefs that make up The Determined Mindset. We believe these characteristics are what it will take to successfully confront our impending climate crisis.

P.S. We are obsessed with helping entrepreneurs like you kick ass. We made you this short zine on how you can stand out and be heard.

Here are the 6 traits of exceptionally successful climate entrepreneurs

1. You are highly imaginative

Instead of running in fear from our impending climate crisis, you find a way to solve it by starting a business.

It takes a highly imaginative mind to find the business opportunity in climate change and go after it. While the masses sit wringing their hands hoping for policy change, climate entrepreneurs are already getting started on building the change the world needs.

Climate entrepreneurs have the amazing ability to imagine a future better than our present and then, while patiently holding that vision, put into motion the infinite number of tiny steps it will take to build the road from here to there. This is no small feat.

We love this piece on NPR called, “It’s 2050 And This Is How We Stopped Climate Change”. Listen as people use imagination and future-foresight on envisioning a world in which greenhouse emissions have ended.

2. You’re a non-conformist

Not one to go with the crowd, climate entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to do what nobody else is doing. You see the wisdom in the advice Carol Sanford, author of The Regenerative Business, offered us last year: “Never do anything the same way twice. It makes you a Pattern Follower and not a Pattern Generator.” Check out her book for more cutting-edge insights from this bad-ass non-conforming leader.

Humans are social creatures who are programmed to want to fit in, so it takes an immense amount of courage to take the risk of going against the grain. This courage enables climate entrepreneurs to discover the bold audacious solutions we need now.

3. You possess a high degree of self-awareness

Most of the climate entrepreneurs we’ve met have rejected the hustle-bro startup culture infesting Silicon Valley and instead realize their work and their health are intimately intertwined. These systems thinkers understand the systems of their body and mind and create personal practices to help themselves maintain optimal physical and mental health so they can do their best work.

Climate entrepreneurs are often juggling family and hard work, and they understand how important it is to carve out time for play and rest. They know when they’re capable of pushing themselves or their team, and when it’s time to take a break, and this sets them up for long-term success.

We attended the live recording of Climate One’s podcast episode called, “Mind Over Chatter: Exploring Climate Psychology”. The panel explored how our mental health plays a role in dealing with the environmental and physical effects of climate change. Give it a listen.

4. You’re collaborative, not competitive

In order for us to tackle today’s gnarly challenges, we need to think in terms of systems, in terms of cross-sector, cross-industry collaboration, in terms of everything being connected.

Climate entrepreneurs know that those who work alongside us in our industry are far more likely to help us out than hinder our progress, so climate entrepreneurs don’t work in a vacuum. They share resources, introduce colleagues to one another, and act as connectors in a growing network, like our friend, colleague, and advisor, David Hodgson. (Listen to our brief interview to learn more about his ideas on being a connector and growing a startup in regenerative agriculture.)

5. You are always experimenting

Business models of old called for years of building expertise, then a long grind of building a product based on that expertise. Today’s world of innovation, disruption, and fast-paced change calls for a completely different mindset, one based on learning by doing. The experts don’t know any better than any of the rest of us how to solve today’s challenges. The only way we’ll find solutions is through trying small things and learning as we go.

Successful climate entrepreneurs know how to split their huge audacious goals into tiny achievable experiments, quickly learning where to invest more resources and when to pivot instead.

Our good buddy, Tito Jankowski of Impossible Labs is launching — Negative, creating and selling products made with excess carbon captured from the atmosphere. He likes to run “$500 experiments” — $500 here and there, invested towards something that might move his business forward. He shares what he learns with his mailing list, so check out the bynegative.com website and sign up to follow along!

6. You see crisis as a Call-To-Action

To build a business tackling climate change, it goes without saying that you don’t let fear hold you back. You are a problem solver, and you know in your heart that you won’t live with yourself if you don’t do your part to make this world a better place. You’re driven by something deep inside to move, create change, and find a way through our toughest challenges.

We find inspiration in this great short documentary on the Sunrise Movement, a group of young activists bringing the Green New Deal to the national spotlight where they hope to turn our climate crisis into an opportunity to create millions of good jobs.

Climate entrepreneurs are a special type of person. These traits are quite rare. They take courage and patience and intelligence and a whole lot of heart.

If you’re one of these people, we salute you. We need to band together and help one another. Please sign up below so we can send you our mixtapes and stay in touch.

P.S. We are obsessed with helping entrepreneurs like you kick ass. Download our zine on how to stand out and be heard.

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