Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Stacy Savage, Founder of Zero Waste Strategies LLC, located in Bastrop, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Zero Waste Strategies is an environmental consulting firm specializing in Zero Waste protocols to support the newly emerging Circular Economy. We work with the business, government, institutional, and nonprofit sectors to reduce waste in landfills. This drives increased revenue, deeper customer loyalty, employee empowerment, and a green marketing edge through recycling, food waste composting, and effective training programs.
Tell us about yourself
I'm a lifelong Texan, born and raised in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area, where both my parents worked at oil refineries for a collective 75 years. Growing up with rotten egg smells, brown, hazy skies, and cancers that affected influential family members focused my career path on environmental stewardship. I have been a "recycling nerd" for nearly 20 years. Starting in 2003 as a grassroots community organizer, I knocked on tens of thousands of doors across several states to educate and engage residents in tackling pollution issues and holding government officials accountable. In 2008, I co-founded the Austin Zero Waste Alliance and volunteered as the Chair until 2012. I also played a pivotal role in passing 2 key pieces of statewide legislation for free, responsible manufacturer recycling of toxic electronics known as the 2007 Texas Computer TakeBack Law and the 2011 Texas TV TakeBack Law. From 2015-2017, I served as an Austin City Council appointee to the Zero Waste Advisory Commission (ZWAC) to help vet waste policy. Since founding my company in 2013, I have worked with clients such as Dell, AT&T, Kohler, Nestle Purina PetCare, Belden, Unico Properties, and the City of Austin, among others.
I am driven by the climate science community's warning that we have less than 10 years to make critical changes to how our society pollutes the natural world. Knowing that waste diversion from landfills and incinerators is the lowest hanging fruit of any operational efficiency and that these types of polluting facilities emit millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year, I take deep pride in helping people do right by their discards and changing their perspectives around materials they might normally view as "trash."
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Unfortunately, millions of businesses have gone belly-up during the pandemic. The fact that my company held steady while also having to pivot our business model to include a new online training system due to COVID speaks volumes as to the continued business demand to implement sustainability programs.
Our new offer to clients consists of a 3-tiered program for Zero Waste success that can be mixed and matched based on a client's business service needs:
- Tier 1: A "Done by You" online basic training system for beginners.
- Tier 2: A "Done with You" advanced online training protocol for executives and managers.
- Tier 3: A "Done for You" approach that includes a comprehensive on-site facility assessment, including a waste audit, analytics reporting, customized employee training, and certification.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
A difficult road traveled in building a business is maintaining balance. Balancing your time, energy, efforts, and emotions around business wins and rejections versus personal life challenges can be draining and exhausting.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Design your business with sustainability as a key function. Optimizing your business from the beginning can save money and provide green marketing opportunities to establish your company as one that cares for people and the planet.
- Say YES to every opportunity that comes your way, but only if they are in alignment with your business mission and vision.
- Don't be afraid to learn new things to support your business, such as QuickBooks, tax practices, and marketing skills, but be aware enough that if you're swamped with these tasks, hire an expert in those fields instead.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
The collective buying power of Millennials and Gen Z is estimated at $46B annually. It is also well known that these consumers have deeply held beliefs around environmental and social justice for an equitable society. If a business is vying for a share of this consumer block, it must align with those consumers' personal values in order to demonstrate a commitment green operations. Lip service to green operations without action and measured results will expose your company to cancel culture on social media and cause a PR nightmare. This can almost guarantee you've bought your business a one-way ticket to the land of industry irrelevance.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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