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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

Yard Maintenance

Know the secret to keeping the perfect yard? Share it with the world.

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Business At A Glance

Yard Maintenance

Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

Offer clients a host of yard and property cleanup and maintenance services by starting a general yard maintenance service. Cut grass, provide rubbish removal, trim trees and hedges, and offer lawn aeration and garden tilling. Concentrate your marketing efforts on securing customers who are prepared to sign up for regular service, and offer financial incentives to persuade them to do so. On average, you should have no problem charging in the range of $15 to $30 per hour.

The Market

Providing you offer great service, and because yard maintenance can be hard work, there should be no shortage of homeowners prepared to part with a few dollars per month to have their yards professionally maintained and kept in tiptop condition. If you will be operating in northern climates, offer leaf raking in the fall and snow clearing and de-icing services in the winter for a year-round operation.

Needed Equipment

You’ll need a truck to transport your equipment from one client’s house to another, but assuming you already own a truck, most of the equipment needed to operate a yard maintenance service is relatively inexpensive; to keep start-up costs to a minimum, equipment such as mowers, tillers, leaf blowers, and weed eaters can be purchased secondhand or rented on an as-needed basis until you have earned enough to buy them.

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Plants & Agriculture

Garden Arbors

Garden arbors offer the perfect match for the gardener who seeks a little whimsy.

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Business At A Glance

Garden Arbors

Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

Garden arbors have become a very popularlandscape feature that thousands of homeowners are opting to include intheir gardens. This creates a terrific business opportunity for theinnovative entrepreneur to capitalize on by starting a homebasedbusiness that manufactures and sells garden arbors. If you have theability, you can design your own trademark arbors.

Or, if you arelacking in design talent, plans are readily available at most buildingcenters for constructing garden arbors. Only a small workshop space andbasic tools will be required for this endeavor. Establishing allianceswith architects and landscape designers will enable you to capture thecustom made-to-order arbor market. Or you can opt to create standardarbors that can be sold to building centers wholesale. Do not overlookthe power of the Internet in terms of marketing the arbors, as this isthe type of home improvement product that is not readily available inevery community, so some people will seek out the product via the Web.

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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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