Start a general gardener business by following these 9 steps:
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 guide to starting your general gardener 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 general gardener business?
Most people can get started with little more than a lawnmower and some general gardening tools. Those with more state-of-the-art equipment may be able to attract higher end clients, but it’s by no means a requirement to invest in the most expensive gear on the market.
What are the ongoing expenses for a general gardener business?
Ongoing expenses include equipment replacement and maintenance, transportation costs, and commercial insurance. If you hit a water main or cut a cable line while gardening, you can potentially incur hundreds or thousands of dollars in repair costs. Commercial insurance will cover all or part of these costs so you don’t have to pay for them out of pocket.
Who is the target market?
The target market is typically middle- to upper-class homeowners and commercial property owners of all kinds. Gardeners are looking for people who don’t want the responsibility of maintaining a lawn, but who still want to make their property presentable for themselves and visitors alike.
How does a general gardener business make money?
Gardeners make money by charging for their services. When setting their prices, they need to take into account the cost of the equipment, the time spent on transportation, and how long it takes to perform each task.
How much can you charge customers?
Top gardeners can charge up to $30 dollars an hour, though most will stick to around $15 – $20 an hour. Check the rates in your area before setting your prices.
How much profit can a general gardener business make?
Gardeners typically have varying profit margins based on their territory, the number of hours they work, and the type of equipment they use. However, it’s not unusual to see high profit margins in this industry. If you charge $22 an hour and work 40 hours a week at 80% profit, you’ll make around $700 a week.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Gardening can be a good way to break into landscaping, where top landscapers can charge up to $150/hr for their services. You may also want to teach community classes where people can learn more about how to get the most from their soil.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. 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.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your general gardener business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Check out the Top Business Formation Services from our friends at StartupSavant.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
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.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a hot tub garden business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
A general gardener business is generally run out of a large space. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a general gardener business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your hot tub garden business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
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 general gardener business
Look for gaps in current offerings before deciding your promotion strategy. For example, offering the same amazing service for a lower price, or providing full-scale service, can help beat the competition. Use photos of your work and make sure to provide references — even if they’re friends and family members whose lawns you’ve successfully worked on.
Gardeners with advanced industrial equipment may be able to use this to their advantage as well. Owners can advertise the machine's benefits as a reason to choose them over the competition. Gardeners typically rely on flyers or business cards dropped off door-to-door, or by posting information at community centers and local shops. Consider going the extra mile when introducing yourself to new clients, such as attaching a small bag of seeds to your business business card with an offer to plant them.
How to keep customers coming back
Gardeners should always be on time and consistent with their work. You should be able to discuss the lawn with the property owner and provide interesting tips and practical advice about what else can and should be done to it. The more trust a gardener inspires, the more likely their business will grow.
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 General Gardener Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
This business is great for those who enjoy being outside and working with different types of plants. Gardeners should be able to work directly with clients to discuss their properties, soil quality, and any hazards that need to be addressed.
What happens during a typical day at a general gardener business?
Gardeners will travel around to different locations, helping clients with a number of different tasks. Gardeners aren’t typically asked to design the layout of a property, but they may need to confer with clients on a regular basis about which jobs need to take priority. Gardeners will also need to invoice clients and advertise their services.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful general gardener business?
Owners should have some experience and background in botany. Gardening can be a deceptively complex business, so it helps to have a jack-of-all-trades mentality. Gardeners should also be friendly and effective communicators.
What is the growth potential for a general gardener business?
Annual revenue in the home and garden industry continues to rise year after year, so it’s clear people value this service. Plus, it’s not a job that can be outsourced to people overseas, making it one of the more practical professions a business owner can tackle.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
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 general gardener business?
Gardening can be a very versatile position to have, so owners need a solid business model before getting started. Some gardeners will simply mow lawns and apply weed killer to overgrowth. Others will provide light landscaping advice or lawn planning tips. It all depends on the services required in your neighborhood.
Many gardeners will get started on a part-time basis only, testing the waters to learn more about what clients really need. It may be difficult for a sole proprietor to be hired by a commercial property owner, but smaller commercial businesses may need basic upkeep at a reasonable price. Warmer areas in the US are saturated with gardeners because they need year-round care. This drives the price down for services but also increases demand for gardeners across all demographics.
Gardeners should look for ways to keep clients during the winter, even in the snowiest areas. In addition to offering shoveling services to help maintain the safety and accessibility of a property, gardeners may be able to plant flowers such as holly to keep lawns attractive and colorful during a depressing season.
No matter what type of gardener you choose to be, you need to be proactive whenever possible. Telling clients about potential property hazards will help you earn their trust and may convince them to hire you for additional services. For example, if the roots of a tree look as though they may interfere with a client's plumbing, or if one of their trees is dangerously close to tipping over in strong winds, you may be able to address these issue yourself or recommend a trusted business that can. Either way, it can fortify your relationship with the client and keep them coming back.
The most successful gardeners never stop learning about what they do. Take classes, experiment with your own plants, and read up on the trends in your industry. Even if your current clients need nothing more than law mowing, expanding your education and experience will help your business grown down the road.
How and when to build a team
Gardeners typically only hire a team when they’ve outgrown their workload. You may want to consider hiring an assistant or two at first to get a sense of their skills and work ethic before hiring a team who will go out to clients on their own.