Setting up a gardening business

This step-by-step guide reveals what you need to know about launching a gardening business.

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It’s simpler to launch a gardening business in the UK than you may think. But there are a number of steps required to do it right. This guide covers what to consider and what to do to launch a gardening business.

You’ll also find some tips on how to ensure your gardening business succeeds.

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. If you’ve got the skills to get the job done and a good plan for marketing them, that’s what matters.

You may need to pass a DBS criminal record check if you’re working in venues dedicated to children or vulnerable people – for example, schools or care homes.

How to register your gardening business in the UK

You can launch a gardening business as a sole trader, a partnership or as a limited company.

With the first two options, you’ll need to register as self-employed with HM Revenue & Custom (HMRC) for tax purposes. When launching a corporation, you’ll also have to register your business with Companies House.

Here is how the three options differ:

    • Sole proprietorship. Here, you’ll continue to pay income tax and national insurance as an individual. You’ll be held personally liable for business lawsuits or business debts, even if it goes under.
    • Partnership. A partnership works the same as a sole proprietorship, except your business income and your personal liability will be split with your business partner(s).
    • Limited company. With this option, you’ll pay business tax, and income tax will be due on the wage you pay yourself. You won’t be held personally liable for business debts, and your finances will be separate from those of the business, which is a separate entity.

    How to write a business plan for a gardening business

    It’s not compulsory to write a gardening business plan unless you’re seeking investments from third parties. But it’s still recommended for a gardening business regardless of whether you’re seeking outside funds.

    This will help create a strong idea of how you’ll succeed with your business. Perhaps more importantly, you should be able to spot potential hurdles before they arise.

    Here’s what your gardening business plan should include:

    • Company overview. Your business name, business owner names, business type and business address.
    • Your target market. Include what customer demographic you’ll cover, and what type of gardening work you specialise in.
    • Products and services. A full list of products and services offered by your businesses. Note down how much you’ll charge for each of them.
    • Competitors. Who are the main competitors in your area? What will make customers choose you over them?
    • Marketing plan. How will you market your business? What platforms will you use? What is your monthly marketing budget?
    • Financial plan. Estimate the cost of launching your business and your monthly running costs. Also, add three sales forecasts (minimum viable sales targets, average targets and stretch target).

    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.

    However, to be successful in 2020 and beyond, you’ll need to set up a professional-looking website and social media pages.

    Invest in company branding for your offline and online spaces to make your company look like the real deal.

    It’s likely to require a big initial financial outlay to buy all the equipment you need, so you’ll need to work out how to finance this.

    Opening a business bank account

    A business bank account basically works like a personal one – the main difference is that it’s dedicated to your business’s finances. You should expect the same features, such as a debit card, the ability to make and receive payments, an overdraft option, a banking app and so on.

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    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 insurance products you will need as a gardening business owner.

    • Public liability insurance (PLI). This covers you against having to pay for legal costs or damages if someone becomes physically sick or injured due to the activity of your business. It also covers you if someone’s possessions are damaged.
    • Professional indemnity insurance (PII). This covers you against having to pay damages or legal costs from lawsuits due to professional negligence within your business.
    • Employers liability insurance (ELI). This protects your business against paying legal costs or damages when an employee suffers an illness or injury in the workplace.
    • Business contents insurance. This covers the cost of stolen or damaged business contents.
    • Income protection insurance. This product will replace your income if you become too unwell to work.

    Some insurance companies offer gardener’s insurance, which will include some or all of these protections.

    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.
    • 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 optimise 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. Join apps such as Nextdoor, where neighbours recommend tradespeople to each other.
    • 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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