Small business is about doing what needs to be done for the customer in front of the counter. It’s the model of innovation, efficiency, and customer service. So when Intuit, which serves small businesses with its tax and accounting software, and eBay, arguably the largest small business incubator in the world, wanted to talk to small businesses about green initiatives, they had a lot to say. Now both Intuit and eBay have sites for the small businesses they serve to ‘talk green.’ They’ve picked up a lot of insight. In September, eBay launched the reuseable eBay box.
The green revolution comes from the far ends of individual thinking, lab science, and it can lead to legislation that sometimes vindicates and sometimes blindsides small businesses. Some small businesses already have solutions. Everyone could use a little more information-sharing. The information is difficult to aggregate, but it’s out there.
Amy Skoczlas Cole, of eBay says in 2007 the eBay Green Team assembled forty-strong, grew to 24,000 employees, and when they opened it to eBay users, 300,000 signed on. eBay Green Team members had to learn it was a two-way conversation. Better ideas from their sellers led them to change strategy from “providing information” to “asking questions to provoke conversation.” eBay customers were particularly interested in reducing package waste. One outcome is the reuseable, trackable, eBay Box, launched in September 2010.
Intuit has a very successful site for sharing small business tax tips. Now, through IntuitGreen.com, small businesses can share green ideas, too. Rupesh Shah of Intuit has found small businesses have practiced ‘corporate responsibility’ as a matter of course, long before it had a name. They’re concerned about waste, especially of time and money, yet they’re very focused on keeping good relationships in the community around them. But sometimes shear lack of time isolates small businesses from information that can keep them in synch with the times.
Amy Skoczlas Cole’s passion for the natural world started in kindergarten, when she first wrote an essay on her love for koala bears. After studying environmental policy in college, she joined the staff of Conservation International (CI), where she turned her passion into a career. At eBay, she leads all the different aspects of the company’s environmental strategy. What excites her most, though, is tapping into the collective power of the 90-95 million people who use eBay to make a real difference in world. That’s why she loves running the eBay Green Team, building a movement to help consumer save money and the planet at the same time – by using products that already exist in the world.
Rupesh D. Shah is the Director of Corporate Sustainability at Intuit, a leading software solutions provider and the makers of TurboTax and QuickBooks. Rupesh has led a wide-variety of initiatives including new products and partnerships, conducting detailed environmental assessments, developing corporate-wide sustainability goals, and increasing the transparency of Intuit’s efforts. Prior to that, Shah was Director of Product Management for TurboTax Business products and previously he helped to create and launch new industry-specific versions of QuickBooks.
Shah has also served as Manager of Learning and Development at Odwalla and Training Manager at Earth Train, an environmental nonprofit organization dedicated to providing youth leaders the skills, resources, and network to make a difference in their local communities. He has also consulted for AmeriCorps, the Presidio Leadership Center, the Corporation for National Service, Gorbachev Foundation, the United Nations and various other leading social organizations around the world. Shah has a MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, and a BA from the University of California, San Diego.