Learn a Craft, Craft a Future – Business School

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Lets learn about how to start a small horticutural business. Here are the F.A.Q’s our students have asked about starting a small business:

How do I reduce liability?

At what point do I pay tax?

How much does it cost to maintain and run a lawn mower/machinery?

How do I make more profit?

How much profit will I make?

What does it cost run a business?

How much does it cost to start a business?

What tools will I need?

What Insurance do I need?

What kind of things in the horticulture can I do in my business?

What are the Steps to starting a business?

What is a business plan?

How do I do a business plan?

How do I manage cash flow?

What will my expenses be?

Supply and demand how will I know how much t supply?

How do I market my business?

What should I put in  my terms and conditions? 

How much should I charge?

The first question we have decided to answer is: What kind of things in the horticulture can I do in my business? So first things first lets find out more about the the horticultural industry and the many jobs, sectors and careers it is comprised of so that you can get a general overview. Click here for a summary of the horticulture industry

Click here for a little test to see if you understand the definition of the horticulture industry.

Continuing on from the question What kind of things in the horticulture can I do in my business? It also introduces The next question which is ‘How do I do a business plan ?’ This next section is based on 2 simple ideas for starting a business which is either growing bedding plants to sell or maintaining private gardens:

Goods or Services ?

So you know what horticulture is; but what part of the industry can you start your business in ? The 2 areas of Horticulture easiest to start a business from  scratch are either growing seasonal bedding plants to sell or going out and maintaining peoples gardens. Growing plants  is making and supplying goods or products. Gardening is about the provision of services. The reason why growing bedding plants is an easy start up is because you can grow and sell it in around 4 months it’s what farmers might call a cash crop because you get a quick turn around on your money. Garden maintenance is another easy entry level business idea because there is little outlay on tools/equipment and a week can soon  be filled with regular paying customers giving your enterprise a stable income. The key to both of these start up ideas is timing which means marketing activities and the establishing of customers needs to start in late winter/early spring.

Here’s a table summing up the activities of the 2 different types of business income generation:  

Growing Bedding PlantsGoods or Produce what’s involved ? Garden MaintenanceServices what’s involved
Seed propagation – Sowing seedsGrass cutting
vegative propagation – Taking cuttings etcWeeding
Transplanting seedlings ( pricking out) Pruning – hedge cutting – dead heading – strumming overgrown areas. 
Potting up plugs and rooted cuttings Cleaning and maintaining paved and wooden surfaces  surfaces
Growing plants ready to sell – watering, feeding and moving plants to their correct Growing environmentsMaintaining wooden surfaces
Preparing plants for sale – labelling, merchandising plants to look saleable.Cultivating borders – aerating the soil – mulching  – 
Delivering plants to their market – transporting plants to customers –  taking plants and selling them within a retail market place Turf Maintenance – edging – feeding – top dressing – 

To Specialise or Not to Specialise?

Some of these services cross over and when you are starting a business the key is  not to put all of your eggs within one basket; therefore it is important to look at combining a range of things to take the risk out of the enterprise by generating enough of an income. Combining services and supply of goods is a potential solution to this.  This can help you increase revenue without having to increase the number of customers and marketing opportunities. This is achieved by selling them other things to what they originally called you in for; this is called a ‘linked sale’. Here are ways that services and goods can be combined to create a more diverse income:


Goods service
Grow bedding plants for tubs and basketsProvide and hanging basket and tub planting service using the produce to plant in the containers that you have grown
Supply lawn top dressing and fertilisersFeed the customers lawn using the top dress materials you are supplying
Provide mulch for beds and borders Apply compost as  mulch to the customers borders
Grow a range of perennials and bedding plants for beds and bordersProvide a planting service along with the plants you supply 

So What gardening aspects do you want to supply ? Service? Product ? Or both? 

The ‘WHY’ Aspect of your Gardening Business

It’s important that you check your motivation for doing something this is the most important thing to establish before starting your business. The reason  why you are supplying certain services/products could be the difference between success and failure. Sometimes the focus of your business startup can be too much on the how and what you are going to do with very little consideration for the ‘why ‘ you want to do this. When you think about your hopes, aspirations and dreams about starting a business, what are the most important things that come out of these reasons and how will your business meet them. This will also help you to create a strong mission statement that will help you to drive your business in the right direction.

Please click here  to see whether you have what it takes to start your own business in the horticulture industry. There are some surveys for you to fill out looking at statements that you either strongly agree with or disagree with. These are rough guides to find out whether you have the motivation to do this. If these scores are quite high then you are on the right track to starting and running your own gardening or plant growing business. You can then start to really look at the reasons ‘why’ you are motivated to do this business there are some sections for looking at different aspects of motivation that will help you to formulate a mission statement for your business and really get to grips with the ‘why’ of the Enterprise that you want to set up.