Setting up a gardening business
This step-by-step guide reveals what you need to know about launching a gardening business.
It’s simpler to start a gardening business in Canada than you may think. This guide covers what you need to consider including registering your business, getting funding, insuring yourself against possible losses and spreading the word to attract and build a customer base.
What permits or qualifications do you need to start a gardening business?
You don’t need any formal qualifications to become a gardener or to launch a gardening business. What matters most is having the skills to get the job done and creating a good plan for marketing your talents.
You may need to obtain a criminal record check if you’re working in venues hosting children or members of a vulnerable group – for example, schools or special care homes.
Registration: How to choose the right business structure for your gardening business
Your business type determines how much tax you’ll pay on the money you make and how personally liable you’ll be for business debts.
Here are your main options.
- Sole proprietorship. You’ll continue to pay income tax and other remittances to the government as an individual. You personally will be held liable for business debts or lawsuits against your business.
- Partnership. This is essentially the same as a sole proprietorship, except profits are shared with your business partner(s). Under a general partnership, each partner is held personally liable. Under Limited Partnerships and Limited Liability Partnerships, only general partners (those who manage the business) are liable, while limited partners (investors) are not.
- Corporation. Here, your business becomes an entity in its own right and your personal finances are separate from your business finances. In addition to filing your own personal tax return, you’ll also file a separate business tax return. Plus, you’ll have to pay yourself a wage from company profits. You can’t be held personally responsible for business debts and will have reporting and management responsibilities.
- Cooperative. Cooperatives are best for groups of people who share similar social or economic needs and want to operate a business democratically. In Canada, all cooperatives must be incorporated, either at the federal or provincial level. Cooperatives can be set up as for-profit, not-for-profit or charitable organizations.
Creating a business plan for your gardening business
Unless you plan to apply for financing, you don’t need to create a business plan for your gardening business. But doing so could still be helpful. Laying out your plan clearly will allow you to spot potential obstacles to your success or reasons why you might want to reconsider starting a business or explore other options.
A great gardening business plan should include:
- Company overview. The name of the business and its owners, the business type and its address. Perhaps a short mission statement, explaining your goals for the company.
- Your target market. Who will you market your services to and why? It pays to be as specific as possible. The better you know your audience, the easier it is to market to them.
- Products and services. A full list of what products and services are offered by your business, plus how much you will charge.
- Competitors. Who are your competitors? How does your business differ from theirs? Why is yours better?
- Marketing plan. Are you planning to distribute brochures? Where will you market your business? What is your monthly marketing budget for each marketing platform?
- Financial plan. How much will it cost to launch your business? What are the estimated monthly running costs? What are your monthly sales forecasts? (You should list a minimum viable target amount, an average target amount and stretch targets for long-term growth).
Things change quickly in the world of business, so it’s recommended to review and amend your business plan at least once every quarter.
Setting up your gardening business
You may not need commercial premises for your gardening business, depending on its size, although you’ll need somewhere to store your equipment. To be successful, you’ll also need to set up a professional-looking website and social media pages with consistent company branding to look like the real deal.
Buying all the equipment you’ll need will likely require a big financial outlay, so work out a plan for financing your operation. Check out our guide on setting up a business with no money, or compare financing option from the lenders below to explore your options.
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Opening a business bank account
A business bank account works similar to a personal account – the main difference is that it’s dedicated to your business’s finances. Knowing businesses will need to process frequent deposits in higher amounts than individuals typically deposit, banks often charge a fee per deposit based on the size or type of deposit (cheque, cash etc.).
You should expect similar features to what you’d get with a personal bank account — such as a debit card, the ability to send and receive payments, optional overdraft option, online and mobile banking and more. You may even want to look into accounts that let you earn interest on your balance to help your earnings grow even faster.
Do owners of a gardening business need insurance?
For a lot of jobs, gardeners do put themselves at a big risk of injuring themselves or damaging people’s property. More often than not, they are working with dangerous equipment and at great heights. It’s therefore essential for gardening business owners to protect themselves against paying damages if something untoward occurs.
Here are some of the types of insurance you may want to look into getting:
- Commercial property. Provides coverage for lost, stolen or damaged equipment.
- Personal injury. Helps cover costs associated with recovering from a work-related injury.
- General liability. This protects you and your employees if legal action is brought against your business for damages done to a client’s person or property.
- Commercial auto coverage. Get car insurance for vehicles you use for business including supply vans, trucks and regular passenger vehicles.
Some insurance companies offer insurance packages specifically for gardeners, which bundles some or all of these types of coverage into one policy.
How much should you charge?
This will mostly depend on demand for your gardening services, who your target audience is and what your competitors are charging. It’s in your best interests to research this and price your services appropriately.
If your service is perceived as better quality than others gardeners in the area, you should be able to charge more than your competitors and still attract plenty of business.
How to market your gardening business
Here are some ideas for marketing your gardening business.
- Flyers. If you’re a domestic gardening business, having flyers that you can distribute locally can be useful. You can post flyers through letterboxes or pin them up in local shops, supermarkets or wherever the homeowners you’re targeting are likely to see them. It’s one of the cheapest marketing methods, but it can be effective for this line of work. Make sure you have permission before posting in public places, shops or on private property.
- Set up a website. Your website should contain all of your essential business information and a portfolio of your best work. However, it should also pay off to optimize your website for keywords that potential customers could be searching for on Google.
- Make use of social media. It should help to post examples of your best work to your social media channels. Also, consider posting other content that your audience is likely to appreciate. Tips on when to plant or prune could potentially be relevant.
- Attend gardening shows. If there are any gardening shows or events in your town, this should be a great spot to attract local customers.
- Have a referral scheme. Satisfied customers will be pleased to refer your services, especially if you can provide an incentive for doing so.
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