You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your botanical garden business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a botanical garden business?
Owners have to take into account the cost of the land, salaries of the staff, property taxes, and commercial insurance.
What are the ongoing expenses for a botanical garden business?
Botanical gardens need to account for maintenance costs, staff salaries, third-party services, and commercial insurance.
Who is the target market?
The ideal demographic will depend on the purpose of the botanical garden. You may be looking for cosmetic companies who want to test new scents from different plant species or hybrids. Or you may want to market your business to the general community, so they can enjoy the blooms and learn more about conservation.
How does a botanical garden business make money?
Botanical gardens make money based on their purpose. For example, a botanical garden may have a contract with a university or company to produce research on new plant species. If the space is being used largely for the public, patrons will pay an admission fee to tour the garden. Botanical gardens may also offer guests the chance to become members or rent out the garden for special events (e.g., weddings, etc.).
How much can you charge customers?
If you choose to contract with public or private organizations, the price will be determined by the scope of work and general demand for your services. A typical ticket for an individual adult may cost between $12 to $30, depending on the area and amenities of your garden. Membership fees may be about $75 for a year.
How much profit can a botanical garden business make?
A single garden may welcome as many as 150,000 guests a year (or more). If the average cost of a ticket, the gross revenue would be $1.8 million. After the land is paid off, the profit margin for a botanical garden may be substantial.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Many organizations may need to rent out space for their events, so make the garden as versatile as possible. From weddings to company retreats, there are a variety of ways to utilize your space to make it as profitable as possible.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your botanical garden business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, but if you still want to weigh all your options check our our article, What Structure Should I Choose for My Business?
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
How to promote & market a botanical garden business
An owner should be building relationships whenever and wherever possible, regardless of why they want to open their gardens. Even if it’s strictly for public enjoyment, there’s a conservation element to any botanical garden that should spark the interest of community leaders. So while an owner may want to invest in a website and online advertising, they’ll likely have the best chance of success if they can leverage community and institutional support to build their customer base.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
Attracting customers starts with having an organized and efficient layout. The higher the quality of cultivation of your garden, the more likely it is that clients and customers will continue using the gardens. If the plants are intended for public use, make sure that all customers are treated with respect and all events are professionally organized and executed.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Botanical Garden Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
The ideal owner will have a passion for botany. Whether they’re growing plants for scientific research or to share with the community, they should understand how new species and hybrids can fulfill the overall mission of their organization.
What happens during a typical day at a botanical garden business?
The majority of an owner’s days will be spent maintaining the land and managing the staff. They’ll make final decisions regarding which species to plant and where to plant them. They'll do research on new hybrids, seeds, and conservation efforts and evaluate the merits of each new development in their industry. Owners will also need to schedule daily activities, test growing conditions, and manage third-party vendors.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful botanical garden business?
Owners should have an advanced degree in botany and some history with a professional gardening organization. Owners need to understand the exact conditions each plant needs to flourish and what it takes to cultivate them to their fullest potential.
What is the growth potential for a botanical garden business?
The growth potential for a botanical garden depends on the existing options in the area. Many large cities already have a botanical garden space, so owners will need to find a new angle if they’re hoping to stand out. For example, they may want to grow exotic plants from a single region, or offer exclusive services to a private or public organization.
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One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a botanical garden business?
There is no official designation for botanical gardens. Any garden can be called this without challenge. However, it may help for owners to legitimize their business from the very beginning. One way to do this is to be granted an American Public Gardens Association Institutional Membership. This association will evaluate your garden against the following criteria:
- Is the garden open to the public?
- Does it function as an educational display or for site research?
- Will the staff maintain official records for its plants?
- Does the garden employ at least one staff member?
- Will the garden have official labels or educational materials for the public?
Starting a traditional botanical garden will be a huge undertaking, both in terms of expenses and labor. From the cost of the land to the design of the plants and shrubs, owners will likely run into more incidental costs than they realize. Grants or investors may be able to offset some of your costs, depending on the mission statement of your garden. However, owners need to have a solid business plan before they start taking action.
One way to determine the interest level for a botanical garden is to talk to other professionals in the field. They can let you know more about how their garden was financed and what it takes to turn a profit. Or you can talk to a university or corporate leader to learn more about the specific commercial advantages of the growing conditions in your area. They may be open to doing a work-study program that coaches a new generation on how to take full advantage of their limited resources.
You can also consider opening up a smaller version of a botanical garden as a green space for the community. If you live in harsh environmental conditions, you can consider opening a greenhouse to give people access to flowers and color all year round. A smaller, public-facing organization not only exposes people to more varieties of plants and animals, but it may also provide a beautiful backdrop for special functions or private events. For example, couples can use the gardens for their weddings and reception.
How and when to build a team
You'll likely need to hire a team immediately to tend to the land. Choose people who are curious about the natural world around them. Botanical gardens need people who can test the limits of what we know to discover what we don't. You'll also need team members who are comfortable interacting with guests if you choose to open your doors to the public.