Starting a gardening business can offer independence and steady income and fulfill your entrepreneurial spirit. You can meet these goals by taking several preliminary steps to lay the groundwork for your company. First, think about the key aspects of running a gardening business to assess whether it is the right vocation for you. Then, read this article to learn more about how to start a gardening business.
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Key features of a gardening business
The distinct features of a gardening business make it different from other services. These impact your choice of services to provide, your preferred clients, and how much money you make. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- It is labor-intensive. Gardening involves some heavy lifting, digging, pruning, bending, and exposure to the elements for several hours a day. This can benefit your health, but it can also cause physical strain.
- It may be seasonal. Gardening services have peak activity in the summer months. If you are running your business full-time, you’ll have to monitor your cash flow for the slower winter months. On the flip side, this is a great activity for students, teachers, and others who may have more time in the summer.
- It can take specialized knowledge. There is an expectation that you will know what plants grow best in which areas and how best to care for them. If you serve a clientele who have large areas of landscaping and keep exotic plants, this expectation may be greater.
After you’ve evaluated these features and are ready to go ahead, take the following steps on how to start a gardening business:
1. Decide on your services
Gardening means different things to different people. Before you hang your shingle out as a gardening expert, develop a precise list of services. These may include:
- Lawn care
- Choosing new plants
- Digging, planting, and refining the look of the green space
- Maintaining gardens and lawns through mowing, pruning, leaf blowing, and similar cleaning
- Planting, maintaining, and harvesting food gardens (vegetables)
If you are stuck for ideas, browse the websites of other gardeners and landscapers. You can spot what you know how to do and what you are willing to learn. Then, create your own website that states who you are and what you offer.
2. Write a price list
To compete with other gardeners, you should charge a reasonable price. But you also need to make a profit. Browse the prices of competitors in your area. Work with your price list as you determine your business expenses, so you have enough margin to sustain your company.
3. Set a budget
List out the expenses for your company. These will fall into two categories:
- Start-up expenses. Equipment purchase, plant inventory, business registration fees, and more.
- Monthly expenses. Marketing costs, supplies, vehicle insurance, fuel, equipment maintenance, labor, and more.
Gardening and landscape businesses typically have modest startup costs. Experts speaking to Entrepreneur state you can get going for under $5,000.
4. Buy Equipment and Supplies
You may have at home the equipment you need to get started. A couple of essentials are a vehicle and gardening equipment. Depending on the type of job, you may also want to have carpentry tools on hand. Those help with things like seedboxes for vegetable gardens but are also just handy in case you’re working on an overgrown green area or hard soil.
You may also want to have basic office supplies or a simple software program to track the income and expenses for your business and to provide receipts to customers for payments.
5. Write a Business Plan
Develop a business plan. If it is your first time writing one, review some templates online. A business plan helps you to predict how your cash flow, expenses, and revenue will proceed over the next three to six months. Even if you don’t need money to start your business, getting into the habit of writing a business plan can give you practice if you decide to apply for a business loan.
6. Create a Legal Entity
Follow the rules of your state to determine the legal structure for the type of business you want to have. If you are working by yourself, you may want to run as a sole proprietorship. If you are tag-teaming the work with another person, you may want to form a legal partnership. Talk to a lawyer about what’s best for your situation.
Remember to check the licensing rules in your city, county, and state. You may need not just a business license, but a personal license that says you are authorized to perform gardening or landscaping services.
7. Set Up Financials
As you’re getting started, you may want to be cash-only as you feel out the demand for your services. Eventually, you want to take other forms of payment, like credit cards. This means partnering with a credit card processing service or signing an agreement with a small business office software provider that connects you to these essential capabilities.
8. Create a Record-Keeping System
Get ready to accept clients and take payments by setting up a basic record-keeping system. This is the “back office” of your garden or landscaping business. Whether you do it on a simple software program or write it out by hand, here are the things you need to track:
- Availability to take jobs
- Client bookings
- Incoming payments
- Cash flow
In summary, you need at a minimum a business calendar that tracks your time, and a ledger system that tracks your money. A small business software program can offer a combined calendar function that allows for scheduling as well as a spreadsheet function that allows you to keep the financials in order.
9. Get the Word Out
It’s time to market your business. Start simple with word-of-mouth among friends and neighbors. Set up social media pages and a Google My Business listing, so people can find you as they search for a garden expert near them. Populate your website and social media pages with interesting articles about gardening, to attract interest and attention. As you expand, consider an email marketing campaign. This can help expand your company and allow you to hire more people as you gain more clients.
10. Schedule Jobs
Decide how to schedule your gardening jobs. Talk to each client about what they need and how best to proceed. Here are some scheduling options:
- A free consultation, where you visit the client’s home and discuss their needs
- A “one and done” garden project, where you do basic landscaping, install plants, or place seeds
- An ongoing maintenance agreement, where you visit the client’s home weekly for cleanup, pruning, and watering
As you spend more time with clients, you will develop a greater sense of what it is they need. You can offer different-length appointment times and modify your service listing in response to client feedback.
11. Reevaluate and Revise
After you have been at the business for a few weeks, it’s time to reflect on how things are going. Reassess your marketing strategy and hone it to find the sweet spot of regular jobs and steady income. Tweak your business plan as necessary. Take a new direction if need be, or simply build on what’s already working. Evaluate whether old-fashioned marketing methods like coupons can help you build your client base.
How to start a gardening business
The summer months are a great time to get outdoors and enjoy nature. If you love to spend time in the garden, you can turn it into a great business.
To support your endeavor, get the right equipment, mind the cash flow, and stay on top of marketing efforts. You may find your hobby has become a satisfying vocation you will continue to do long-term.