Owning your own business

BarredBuff

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Does anybody here own a business and make your living from it? I've got a few ideas for a personal business to start up, but wanted to hear any words of wisdom from you folks.
 

NH Homesteader

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Same. No business, we've had some ideas but haven't gone for it with any of them. What're your ideas?
 

Lazy Gardener

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Ditto. It's my goal to earn enough from my egg and produce sales to offset any other grocery costs. At this point, it's only a pipe dream. I am only charging enough for my eggs to cover my costs. And, I don't want to enlarge my flock beyond the number of birds I already have. I live on a dead end road, so... a road side stand would require a quite a bit of word of mouth advertising to build it up. Currently, I lack the time, energy or infrastructure to offer prime produce (need appropriate refrigeration, and appropriate planting/harvest schedules to be comptetitive).

An other thought I've been kicking around is to offer a panelized good quality chicken coop that could be delivered or picked up by truck, and bolted together on site. We've all seen the shoddy merchandise sold at the feed stores that is too small, poorly built and designed to pass as appropriate housing for even 6 birds. I would design 4 x 8, shed style, that could be added on, to turn it into a Woods Open Air coop. So the flock owner could start with the 4 x 8, then expand to 8 x 8 at a later date.
 

Mini Horses

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Back in the day, yeah a business of raising miniature horses/donkeys. Even with high expense, it went well and within 2 yrs it was making money. Not normal in a horse business. At the time miniatures were high dollar, now not so much. And I've been out of it for a while. Same with my Boer goats, started when they were "new" in USA. Did great.

Now I just want to enjoy my farm lifestyle and earn enough to help offset the expense of my much loved animals. Doing that allows me to provide for self, my 2 adult kids/fam if they want any, and not take a hit on my retirement income. I have several egg customers (who also buy goat cheeses when I allow), a few "herd share" milk customers and a good auction for goat kids & adults (one Sat a month). Some of my customers will buy goat meat & fresh pork -- when I have it. Just outlets for me which could expand, if I wanted.

LG -- I am fortunate to have a Spring/Summer program only 10 miles from me, run by VA State Agri. A weekly auction for farm raised produce, flowers, etc. Fun. Large farmers or backyard ones can bring (or buy) truckloads or a few baskets of produce. You see veggies, fruits, melons, home baked/canned goods, flowers, plants, you name it! Some only have one or two crops, some just excess producing tomatos, peppers, etc. I see home canners who don't want to grow, owners of in-town farm stands, etc., all there to buy. Yeah, sometimes just a fun "night out" :D
 
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BarredBuff

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It is nothing new or mind blowing. I have been thinking about starting a greenhouse business as the main operation. My community is pretty small, but there is no where in the county to really buy good, reasonably priced plants. The local hardware store sells them, and I could undercut them on prices and still make a fortune. They're so expensive.

My question is do you take baby steps and do it gradually or do you go head first. I could probably build a greenhouse on the property this year, and be in business next year. However, it would be small scale and very limited in scope. Do you do that and build up?

Simultaneously, there is a property in town off of the parkway that used to be a garden center. It is out of business and not being used. Do you take the plunge and buy it with a loan and go at it on larger scale? You'd definitely be in a much better location, and would have ample opportunity to try other venues.

So, that brings me to the next idea. If you had that property with the building, then you could open a storefront. It would be a good place to sell eggs (free range eggs is another business I want to try), homemade soaps, honey, produce, molasses, etc. Then, of course, other things a gardener would need as they buy plants. You could sell mulch, tools, fertilize, compost, and so on.

Some other ideas I had was repackaging bulk foods. There is an Amish market about two hours from here that makes a killing by doing a Lehman's type store. That community is larger, but does not have the traffic or tourism we have in the area.

Which brings me to the next piece to the puzzle, our area is becoming increasingly "touristy". With that being said, a business that features an agri-tourism component would appeal to the folks who come from out of town. I don't know exactly what that is just yet, but it is something to consider.
 

sumi

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I didn't think when I saw this thread yesterday that I may have anything useful to say to you, since we started and ran our businesses in South Africa, but we happened to have a small garden centre amongst our other other ventures :)

Some thoughts..

It's a great idea, go for it!!

Annual plants are always good sellers, as people often can't be bothered to start seeds, but like to have "instant gardens" in spring.

Flowers sell. Roses, bougainvillea, geraniums, flowering creepers were some of our good sellers. (You'll have more options than we did for stock, as the region we lived in was hotter than the gates of hades, so hardy plants were a must)

Herbs sell!! Basil, origanum, thyme, chives, rosemary were some of our good sellers. And parsley and mint... Different varieties are good. I grew 4 different types of annual basil and people cannot help themselves, they had to have one of each ;)

Started vegetable plants and producing vegetable plants. Tomato seedlings, onion starts, chilli and pepper plants. If you have fruit bearing pepper plants they will fly and you can mark up the prices a bit since it's coming with fruit and producing already. Again, people can't help themselves ;)

Fruit trees are popular... If you can get some bare rooted and bag them up. It will work out cheaper for you.

Succulents! I started and built up a succulent section in our centre. Beg, buy, steal if you must (JK!) cuttings from people of the popular ones and especially the rarer and more unusual ones and varieties. They are dead easy to grow, sell well and you can plant them in fun containers like old metal pans, old chamber pots, tins, hollowed out rocks, older enamel coffee mugs (do you get those in the States?).... I had collectors travel to our centre to buy succulents :)

Compost and aged chicken manure is good sellers. You have chickens. If you can spare some compost, toss a few bags out there. Also potting soil.

The property you're looking at... Buying is a huge investment and gamble. If you feel comfortably taking the risk, go for it, but I'd approach the owner and ask if I can rent/lease it for 2-3 years with the option to buy it outright.

If you had that property with the building, then you could open a storefront. It would be a good place to sell eggs (free range eggs is another business I want to try), homemade soaps, honey, produce, molasses, etc. Then, of course, other things a gardener would need as they buy plants. You could sell mulch, tools, fertilize, compost, and so on.
Fantastic idea(s)!! There are endless things you can sell there for gardening (small sculptures, bird baths, etc (if you have room) and fun stuff like wind chimes, etc. In addition to that an outlet for your free range eggs and some other produce will be awesome. There may be other producers in the area that can sell their stuff through your shop on a commission basis?

Now, here are some of my ideas. I just threw them out there from memory and as they came to mind. It's early and I'm still loading coffee here :D
 

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