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Plants & Agriculture

Farm Equipment Broker

Do you know the ins and outs of tractors? If so, a farm equipment broker job may be right for you.

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Business At A Glance

Farm Equipment Broker

Startup Costs: $10,000 – $50,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

International connections can really pay off, especially if you’re planning to start a farm equipment brokerage business. Your international connection will not only assist in the marketing of the equipment overseas but also in locating discounted farm equipment for North American purchasers.
The market for good, quality used farm equipment such as tractors and hay combines is huge worldwide. Selling just one piece of equipment per week can generate business revenues of $200,000 per year and more. The key to success in this business is to build and maintain vital contacts and alliances with farm equipment dealers and other brokers of farm equipment, as well as to seek international opportunities with booming economies.
The investment needed to start a business as a farm equipment broker will vary based on factors such as initial advertising budget, business location, and overall operating expenses. However, an initial investment of $25,000 to $40,000 is suitable to get the business venture set in motion.
As a way to minimize startup costs, the business can initially be operated from a homebased office and market only local farm equipment to local potential purchasers. As a rule of thumb, farm equipment brokers charge a 10 percent commission of the total value of the farm equipment that was successfully sold.
There are however, exceptions to the rule. The commission rate will often be higher on lower valued farm equipment, and lower on very expensive farm equipment. Keep in mind that even if a piece of equipment isn’t sold, the broker is still responsible for the costs associated with attempting to market the equipment, unless a prior agreement has been established with the equipment owner, which is rarely done.

The Market

Farmers who need to lease farming equipment

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Plants & Agriculture

Greenhouses

If love plants and flowers but lack the green thumb, greenhouses may be for you.

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Business At A Glance

Greenhouses

Startup Costs: $10,000 – $50,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

In the past decade greenhouses have become as very hot home improvement product and project. As the baby boomer generation slips into retirement they are looking for ways to keep busy, physically fit, and enjoy life. Greenhouse hobby gardening provides them with exactly what they are seeking. There are various approaches that can be taken for starting a greenhouse installation business.
 
These approaches include:
  • Designing, building, selling, and installing greenhouses.
  • Designing and selling U-Install-It greenhouse kits.
  • Selling and installing greenhouses for existing manufacturers. Profit potential range is $20,000 per year part-time and $50,000+ per year full-time.

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Plants & Agriculture

Herb Farm

Feed the popular organic market with fresh herbs.

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Business At A Glance

Herb Farm

Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? Yes

Business Overview

Herbs are tremendously popular these days–from the smallest shop to the largest discount warehouse, you’ll find medicinal herbs, culinary herbs, and herbal teas, baths, candles and aromatherapy essences. If you love the romance and mystique of herbs and you like gardening, then an herb farm might be just the business for you.
You’ll plant and raise your herbs, then sell them to wholesale or retail customers. You can also sell container plants or herbal products like soaps or vinegars. Some herb farmers operate pick-your-own fields where customers can gather their own plants. The advantages to this business are that it’s just you and Mother Nature–this is real back-to-basics stuff, good for the body and the soul–and you can start from home, part time if you like.
You can start out small, growing your herbs in a large backyard or renting inexpensive land, but keep in mind that your profits will also be small unless you’ve got two-digit acreage. You’ll need a solid working knowledge of growing and nurturing herbs. If you’ll be working several acres or more, you’ll need to know farming techniques as well–commercial growing is different from coaxing along a few plants in a backyard border.
You’ll also need a firm grounding in the wholesale herb business–what’s popular, who’s buying it for what purposes, which herbs are best abandoned to agribusiness and which new herbs are likely to be the ‘in’ product in the next few years. (Since it can take two years to reap the rewards of your labors, you’ll need to forecast at least this far ahead.) In addition to all this, you’ll need top-notch sales and marketing skills to get your herbs in the marketplace and keep them there.

The Market

Your customers can be wholesale distributors buying for health product manufacturers, grocery chains and restaurants, or you can sell directly to these businesses yourself. You can target other SOHOs–artisans and crafters who work with herbs–as well as caterers; makers of beauty, health and skin care products; and natural-foods stores.
 
You can sell potted plants to garden centers, florists and nurseries. And you can put your herbs directly in the public’s hands by selling at farmers’ markets and flea markets. Your best bet for selling to other businesses large or small is to develop a niche–a specialty that’s fresh and new in your area–so that instead of competing, you’ve got an untapped market.
 
If you want to go the wholesale route, contact distributors (which you can locate through herb and specialty foods organizations). To sell directly to SOHOs, take samples of your herbs to them and ask for their business. For farmers’ and flea markets, contact the market organizer to find out about fees, then make space reservations–display space at some flea markets and swap meets can be very competitive, so don’t wait until the last minute to make arrangements. If you plan on a pick-it-yourself operation, advertise in local papers and put advertising/directional signs on roads leading to your farm. (Make sure to get permission from land owners and local zoning authorities.)

Needed Equipment

First and foremost, you’ll need a good chunk of soil. If you’ve got acreage, you’re ahead of the game. If not, you can often rent land inexpensively–try power companies with fallow land beneath their towers or property owners with unused acres in rural areas of your town or county.
 
One thing to watch for is that wholesale buyers of natural products may require your farm to be on certifiably organic land–one on which nothing was previously grown using pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. (This certification comes from a state agency or a private organization, depending on your state.) Next you’ll need seeds and growing supplies. If you live in a cold-weather locale, you may want to invest in a greenhouse. You’ll also need a pickup truck or van to deliver your produce to customers.

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Plants & Agriculture

Herb Gardening

With today’s focus on health and gourmet food, there’s no better time to start growing herbs.

Entrepreneur

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Business At A Glance

Herb Gardening

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

A small plot of land in your backyard can easily be converted into a cash-producing herb garden. Dill, parsley and chives are just a few of the many herbs that can be grown at home for profit.
 
Get started by spending time at your local library and on the internet to learn as much as you can about herbs and herb gardening. The rest is very simple. Plant your garden, grow your herbs, design some herb packages, and set out to establish accounts with local merchants to sell your goods. Like any new business venture, there’ll be a learning curve. However, the rewards of a few extra thousand dollars each year can justify the effort.

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