Owning your own business


Sustainability Master
Nov 13, 2010
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East Texas
I'd say go for the garden center property. But can you make the payments in the "off" season? How much do they want for it? What would they lease it for? Get a 5 year lease with a 1 year (every year) option for you to back out and close down in case the business fails, then you aren't on the hook for lease payments. Get a back up lease for extending the lease past 5 years. Agree on a purchase price BEFORE you make improvements and get it ALL in writing.

Talk to a Small Business Administration center. Often times there are SBA "help" centers at a local Junior College that will help you with a business plan and start up.

Do a feasibility study for not only your county, but for every county that touches it's borders. The library is a good place to start for information. There may be a state almanac with the information you need. The latest Census is good information too.
Per capita income
Age of population
There's more but I can't remember it all

Do a projected 3 year income/expense spread sheet. I know, kinda hard to do when you have nothing to start with. But it will put your head in the right place and make you think of things that you otherwise would miss.

Building payment or lease
Utilities, electricity, water, gas for heaters to keep plants warm etc
Insurance on building, contents, theft
Liability insurance

Workman's Comp Insurance (in case they get hurt on the job-so they don't sue you)
Hourly wages
Number of employees
Number of hours worked
KNOW the labor laws!
Have a write up form for infractions, late, not calling in, etc. 3 write-ups and they are fired. Then you have proof that you had good reason to fire them and not pay their unemployment. Believe it or not, there are people who work just long enough to draw unemployment again. State laws vary, so KNOW the laws!

You must with hold Federal (state) income tax PLUS FICA tax and you pay half of the FICA tax, which is 7.65% from you and 7.65% from the employee. (unless the amount has changed)

You MUST pay these taxes through the bank, using a (I think)941 slip with your business information on it on or by the 15th of every month.
Don't think for a moment that you can just pay "contractor" wages with no taxes with held. They are employees and you are responsible for seeing to it that taxes are with held and paid in.

Sales tax;
You can pay quarterly, but I recommend paying it in monthly. My first quarterly sales tax payment was over $12,000--I nearly died on the spot and went to monthly thereafter.
Make a copy of the check you send and a copy of the form that you send in, put it in a file, start a new file each year.

One day a lady from the state sales tax office walked in, laid her card down and snarled at me, accusing me of not paying my sales tax and she was there to collect $8,605 NOW. I simply rolled my office chair backwards, pulled the file, the copy for the month with the copy of the check I sent and laid it down next to her card. I told her she was wrong, the check had cleared and I ALWAYS made my payment and NEVER missed it or was late. She stuttered, made some phone calls and found that I had paid it. Always, ALWAYS cover your butt with copies of everything you send to ANY gooberment entity.

Starter pots (like you buy seedlings in at the store)
Flats (for the starter pots)
Potting soil
Grow lights! (looking these up will make you feel like a marijuana grower LOL)
Greenhouse cover-is there a greenhouse on the site? What kind of covering does it have? Permanent or plastic that comes on rolls? If not permanent, it must be replaced every year, shade cloth for the hot summer months
Water sprinkler system (research the different types)

Social media is the new normal, for me it was radio, TV, newspaper and billboards. All of it worked.
You could have a Facebook page, Instagram, twitter, blog, gather up as many followers as you can. Post the links on your store front, signs, on your invoices, everywhere. Update regularly! Nothing worse than a social media account that is months old. Post sales, specials, frost alerts, anything and everything.

ASK your customers how they heard about you. If you are paying for a newspaper ad and nobody responds to it, then you know it's not working.

What will be your main focus? Organic? Heritage? Shrubs? Hanging baskets? Pony rides? LOL What will be your draw to get people in the door? What is your "hook"? What makes you better than the "other guys"?

You will need a credit/debit card processor
Bank accounts
You need a DBA, usually have to register with the county
Have several accounts. Pay the sales tax and employees income tax into a separate account than your daily banking.

After adding up all your expenses, yearly, monthly and daily, what's your "nut"? What is the number you need to break even? What is the number you need to make a profit?

How many flats of plants do you need to sell? How many bags of potting soil? How many dozens of eggs?

Do you test the waters and start small? Do you "go big or go home"? What is your risk level? What are you comfortable with? If going big scares you to death, start small. Maybe you could rent a small place on the highway. Put up a tall chain link fence and lock up at night. Is there a farmer's market in your town? Maybe your first year, set up on the side of the road? Do you need permits to do that?

Every summer, there are people in our area who buy trailer loads of watermelons and park on the roadsides on holiday weekends. They have colorful painted watermelons on folding A type plywood signs. They make a killing.


Almost Self-Reliant
Jan 18, 2019
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MN - Zone 4b
I am in my first year of starting a tree farm. I have spent about $2500 so far and won't see a dime for at least another 6 months when I'll do my first sales to my local national park, city natural resources department and to another non-profit.

A garden center would be fun, but yeah, you can't go half-ass on that or people won't come back. They'll walk in and go "huh, well this is meh" and then always have that impression and won't come back.


Sustainability Master
Jul 16, 2017
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Zone 6B or 7 can't decide
I had my own part time businesses in NC it was doing very well. Then the economy tanked when oboma took office. When your in business you develop relationships with your suppliers and customers. In my case my suppliers were logging companies and my customers were furniture makers and construction companies. It was so painful to watch my supplies and customers loose their entire businesses and in some cases their homes. People tend to forget the horror reined down on people when oboma took office as president and the credit companies called their debt and their property was devalued.

I was one of the lucky ones, I had no loans for anything that was business related. But just seeing what happened to others and the pain and suffering caused, I doubt I'll start another business again.

My advise to you... Have a heart but also understand you are running a business to make money. If at all possible don't owe anyone anything that you don't already have cash on hand to pay. If you do take out a loan (last resort), ensure you can pay it off well in advance of the agreed to terms, even if the economy crashes again.

You have to make some heart wrenching decisions when your a business owner, its not easy and being a business owner is not for everyone.
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Lovin' The Homestead
Jun 8, 2019
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western OK
Replying to follow this thread. Would love to get some ideas. :)


Almost Self-Reliant
Apr 7, 2009
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I have been my own business for the last several years. I am a handyman. With my dw's medical issues it is hard to be a full time employee for someone else.
In oregon i had a pretty good business going. But now that I have moved i am starting over.
It is a job that i have enjoyed a lot. But somethings i cant do anymore. My knees are to the point that laying flooring is out. A day of that and my knees are screaming for a week or two.
Hopefully va will increase my disability for that.


Sustainability Master
Jul 22, 2011
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Klamath County, OR
:fl I hope VA comes through on that for you. Sometimes they are real good about that, sometimes not.