It is said that gardening is among the most stress-relieving hobbies we can have. If you possess extensive knowledge and would love to turn it up a notch with the experience, offer your expertise to others.
How big you can turn your business would depend on you, your free time, the scale of service you would offer, and how much capital you would invest.
Today, let’s discuss the basics of setting a gardening startup.
Essential Skills and Needs to Start a Gardening Startup
If you are wondering how to become a gardener for profit, you would first need to have the essential base of the craft, which is natural skills. The best you can get from yourself is the experience (2). However, if you have no expertise, you may want to invest your time, effort, and money in training.
As a founder of a gardening startup, you will have to function in varied ways with a varied vision for each project. For that, you will need flexibility. Before making a commitment to yourself for the gardening startup, see if you have the following skills and characteristics (3):
- A creative spirit
- An ability to empathize with others
- Clear communication
- A positive attitude towards design, plan, and organize
- General or above-average gardening skills
- Negotiation skills that can make both your clients and yourself happy with the costs and revenue of the individual service
- Flexibility in case someone changes his mind or in case of accidents or any unforeseen circumstances
- Fearless attitude when it comes to weather
- Basic marketing skills
- Basic administrative and documentation skills
- A positive attitude towards growth
- A vision for innovation
- Interest in generating new ideas
As you will start your gardening startup, you will also need a building for your office as you need to keep your administration somewhere. It can also be your own home (4).
If you live in a house with a backyard, you can also practice your new ideas there and use them as a sample of your work.
Additionally, your landscape gardening will also need specific tools. You can expand with time, but you must ensure that you have the basic, most essential beginner tools (5).
- Gardening Gloves
- Knee pads or Kneeler
- Garden Hoe
- Garden Fork
- Bypass Pruners
- Hand Cultivator
- A long Hose Pipe
- Lawn Mower
- A laptop for administrative work
- A vehicle for transport to distant locations
You will need to put money into all these essential tools.
It is most likely that you will start local. Hence you won’t need the vehicle too much. However, with time, as you expand your business, it would be your most valuable asset.
Writing a Business Plan
For any founder, his business plan is the core of his whole endeavor.
To have a successful start and execution of your gardening startup, you have to look at a few essential business plan points (6). Here is an example for you:
- Objective: Creating an Independent Service Provider for gardening and landscaping offers
- Mission: Offering excellent quality gardening services at affordable prices for local households
- Startup: Long term assets; Laptop and vehicle; Short term assets; tools and supplies
- List of services and Prices: Examples include gardening design, lawn mowing, garden moving, garden clearance, outdoor repair, patio cleaning
- Competition Research: The scale of competitors, services offered by competitors, experience and work quality by competitors, location coverage by competitors, marketing strategy of competitors
- Financial Strategy: A detailed investment and profit analysis with a forecast for the initial six months
- Marketing Strategy: Recognizing targeting audience, implementing exposure channels, creating a business portfolio
Research the Target Market
Estimate the Demand
You will want to ensure that there is enough local demand for your gardening startup. Setting up such a business can be a low cost. Therefore, it is highly likely for you to face competition from several established businesses, ranging from small, one-person businesses to large landscape companies (7).
You can start by checking out competitors in your area to find out how many businesses are already offering gardening services locally. You can look at local business directories and other online directories to get an idea of how many competitors you are likely going to have.
It is essential to remember that there will also be several smaller businesses who do not advertise except, for instance, putting a notice in a local shop window. Several won’t even do that and only rely on word-of-mouth recommendations.
It could be that you would only be competing directly against some of these businesses since you would be targeting a particular segment of the market or offering a specific service. For instance, you may decide to specialize in the supply and maintenance of handling baskets and window boxes to domestic and commercial clients. Or, you can also plan to offer an indoor house plant maintenance service.
Take a closer look at the services your competitors offer to establish (8):
- the range of services your competitors offer
- the prices they charge
- the area within which they are offering their services
- their local reputation
Why Would Customers Choose your Gardening Startup?
You will need to ensure that enough customers would choose your gardening startup rather than existing ones. Your market research is likely to highlight a gap in the market that you can fulfill.
For instance, there may be no local business that offers basic garden maintenance like lawn mowing, hedge cutting, or digging to customers. Or, it may show that there is an opportunity to win customers from your competitors by undercutting them on costs or offering a higher service quality.
Good quality services, reliability, and monetary value are essential and can be a strong selling point. Don’t forget that several of your clients would be critical gardeners who cannot do the work themselves. They have only commissioned you the work because they could be physically frail or have no time.
They would want you to do a good job. Otherwise, they won’t be satisfied. For instance, the grass always looks unkempt because you did not turn up when you said you would. Building a reputation and offering a high-quality professional service can earn you valuable word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied customers.
Many of your potential customers would also be nervous about having people they don’t know working around their house. You can assure them of your trustworthiness by joining a government-backed quality assurance scheme (9).
For your gardening startup, your target customers are people who would most probably require any gardening service. It is people with an outdoor space.
You may believe that it will mostly be pensioners and older people, the boomer generation. While it is true to an extent, however, it is also true that retired individuals have a lot of free time and usually prefer to tend to their garden themselves.
Most experienced gardeners know that they most offer their services to young families, professionals, and people who often go on out-of-town trips.
Busy people are most likely your target audience, people who want their outdoor space to look good or at least a little neater.
It is why it is highly likely that your most frequently purchased service would be trimming bushes and mowing lawns. Maybe even watering a few plants.
Conventional young families who can afford a gardener may hire you for a complete landscaping project with adding decorations, planting flowers, and even looking for a fancy customized garden design to brag about to their neighbors. These people seek good quality and would also pay you most expensive services.
There is also a segment with no idea that they need to take good care of their outdoor space until someone points it out. And you can be that someone. A good walk around your neighborhood would tell you which house is in the requirement of your service. A group like that usually looks for the cheapest offers available.
Research About Future Developments
You can boost the demand for your services when there are developments of new housing estates. People who move into a house in a new state would like to flaunt their new garden. Hence, it is worth finding out what development proposals are in the pipeline or already are under planning in your locality (10).
Find Out People’s Need
You can conduct a small survey in your locality to establish what kind of gardening services people are interested in. For instance, put a printed questionnaire and stamped, self-addressed envelope through letterboxes. One can also test the reactions of his customers upon hearing the prices he proposes to charge.
Also, don’t overlook local businesses with yards such as nursing homes and guest houses. Property agents are also usually looking for contractors to maintain the gardeners for rental properties and holiday homes (11).
Which Services to Offer?
The range of services you decide to provide will depend on your skills, training and experience, the nature of local people, and the level of demand in your area.
You may decide to provide a complete landscaping service, from an initial design through the project completion to commercial and domestic customers. You can also offer a garden design service and not get involved in putting the design into practice.
However, it is worth highlighting that most gardening businesses offer a comprehensive range of services like (12):
Garden design services including:
- initial consultation
- design, layout, and after the plot survey
- planting plan, planning the location of each plant
- detail implementation specification
Hard landscaping including:
- Patios, flagging, decking
- walling, fencing
- raised borders, large rockeries
- water and ponds features
- drainage installations
- ground clearing
Soft landscaping including:
- flower features
- hedge planting
- water features
Several businesses also offer one-off garden tidy-up services for people with overgrown gardens. Additionally, gardening startups also offers a range of regular maintenance services such as:
- grass cutting
- leaf collection
- vegetable and flower bed preparation
- hedge trimming
- lawn treatment
- general gardening tasks like compost making
One can also consider growing some plants themselves to sell to his customers.
Demand for gardening services is entirely seasonal, and it is most likely that you will find yourself busier at certain months of the year than at others. For instance, activities in the garden increase during spring, with the start of the planting season. At the same time, several services such as hedges and lawns would need regular attention throughout the year. It is also likely for winter months to demand garden tidying, cleaning, and to dig.
Additionally, the available daylight hours would also affect how much you would be able to do. For instance, winter days are much shorter than summer days. Your work may also get hampered by bad weather. There might be long periods where you may not be able to work at all because of heavy rain or snow on the ground.
When you plan about your monthly income from your garden services, you must adjust the figures to reflect how busy you may think you will be. It will also help you decide whether you will need an additional income source during the year (13).
You are probably wondering about how much cost it would take to start a gardening startup. Well, we have a piece of excellent news for you. Gardening and landscaping startups do not need significant outside funding.
One can work on a small scale with what they have and what they know. Then, one can gradually expand tools and the coverage of services as you gain popularity in the niche.
Suppose you have no prior experience or expertise in anything involving the gardening business. In that case, you need to spend a reasonable amount of time and money on education and practical work.
Travel and Tools
Most of your finance and investments would go for travel and tools expenses. It is especially true if you are doing a job away from your local neighborhood.
Signing a big contract with an extensive supplier is among the most secure decisions one can make. But, it is better saved for when the business is booming. In the beginning, one can find deals online or shop in wholesale stores.
Price Your Services
You will need to put some thought into how much you are going to charge for your services. You will need to cover all your costs and your drawing. At the same time, you will also have to offer a competitive price as there could be several other garden services businesses in your area.
You can decide on a particular hourly rate to charge your customers who want the odd jobs done now and then. You can also choose to reduce the hourly rate if a customer decides to have a long-term contract with you, under which you agree to offer, say seven hours a week. You will also need to charge higher for some services than others, such as work that needs specialist design skills or gardening expertise.
In some jobs, you will need to do the job per quote rather than by hours. For instance, you can offer a fixed charge for a one-off garden tidy-up or plot clearance. However, if you offer specialist design and gardening services like designing and building decking, you will probably need to offer your customers an estimate or quote for each job.
If your customers ask you to give a quote or estimate for a job, be clear about which you are giving:
- If you give a quote for a job, that is a fixed price. It means that once the customer accepts the price, you can’t change it even if there is a lot more work than you guessed when you prepared the cost. Hence, you need to give precise details of what is covered and clarify that any variations or extras that are not covered in the quote would be charged for extras.
- An estimate is not a fixed price but the best guess of what the job is likely to cost. No one is bound by it. It is also perfectly acceptable to offer several estimates, each taking different circumstances into account from best to worst-case scenarios.
If you don’t have a laptop by now, you would better get one.
Promote Your Business
Since it is likely that you will not have any premises that would act as a shop window for your business, you would need marketing strategies to advertise and promote your business effectively to let your potential clients know who you are, where you are, and services you offer (16).
Again, the word-of-mouth recommendation can be precious to ensure that you and your staff offer a reliable and high-quality service (17). You and your team will need to wear protective clothing for much of the time; you can get your company’s name and logo printed on them. An eye-catching logo on your vehicle would also advertise your business. And if you are offering landscaping services, you can also put up a board advertising your business at the place you offer your services.
There are numbers of ways you can promote your business (18):
- Creating a website
- Creating a social media presence
- Creating a blog
- Creating a mailing list
- You can also build a portfolio to showcase your work to your potential customers.
- Advertising in local newspapers, local print directories, and online directories like JustDial.com
- Have business cards and leaflet printed
- Connect with local gardening clubs and offer a membership discount
- Contact local florists, garden centers, and other places and see if you can leave details of your services to them.
- Offer mini products like a fridge magnet with your businesses details to your customers
- Investigate the possibility of becoming a recognized local supplier for gardening services
You can also consider streaming courses about gardening and other relevant topics to attract further attention of garden enthusiasts and expand your audience.
Purchase an Existing Business
If you are keen on starting a gardening startup but don’t want to start a venture from scratch, you can also consider purchasing an existing garden service business. It would be great since you will have customers, staff, equipment, and premises already in place (19, 20).
However, purchasing a business can be hazardous and expensive unless you have the right experience and tams, including legal and financial know-how.