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I am new to this...help?

Posted by JennyP z6 MO (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 19, 04 at 10:25

My dream is to start a small nursery and marketplace. My husband and I have 7 acres in se Missouri. Can anyone help me get started mentally preparing myself to chase this dream? I need info about resources (catalogs, books) to use for material and education. I have a partial education in botany, but a much richer education growing up on an acreage with parents who taught me much about local plants and lore, and common sense gardening. I have no idea where to start in turning this love of gardening and "green things" into a feasible business pursuit. Any ideas? Can anyone share from experience? This is my first posting on the site, though I read off of it often. Thank you


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I am new to this...help?

Tony Avent, of Plant Delights Nursery, has a book called 'So You Want to Start a Nursery', which I have heard recommended highly. You can get it from his nursery website or from booksellers.


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RE: I am new to this...help?

I've heard, too, that the Avent book is a good starting point..........

If you don't have much experience in retail, you might also want to look into taking a basic business class or two, possibly through a local community college. Something that will get you thinking about a business plan, familiarize you with accounting language, marketing, etc. Our local community college offers (once in a while) a short course on how to prepare a business plan.

Check, too, with your closest Small Business Administration office----they have (or at least had) a program in which retired businesspeople 'tutor' or 'mentor' aspiring entrepreneurs. Every business is unique, in its way, but there are also a lot of common issues, processes, problems. Somebody who ran a small company for forty years is a potential treasure trove of information---especially if he or she started it from scratch.

If you have friends who run successful small businesses, pick their brains, too. I bet they'll tell you that they went through a lot of "on-the-job" learning, and might be able to clue you in on things you can do to keep the learning curve manageable. In fact, if you have NO experience in retail, but have friends in the business, you might see if they'd be game for letting you 'shadow' them on the job for a bit so you can get a feel for all the balls that need to be in the air at the same time on a given day.

Most small businesses that fail, don't fail because of the owner's lack of passion or commitment; it's usually a case of not having enough hands-on business experience, lack of planning, or trying to handle too much on your own (hire expertise!). If keeping accounts isn't your strength, for example, then make sure you've got someone who can take care of that for you.

The Internet is a great source for you, too. Look at as many nursery websites as you can stand, to get a feel for how they market themselves, how they organize and 'display' their inventory, what their 'rules' are (returns, guarantees, etc.) If you look at enough of them, you'll probably start to see patterns and common methods---a pretty fair indicator that something works well.

Friendly 'reconnaissance' of similar businesses in your region would be good, too. Knowing your 'competition' is always important, being collegial can be, too. You'll probably be able to sense who might be willing to share war stories with you; other places, you can simply 'inspect' and think about what you like and might want to adapt to your own business.

Take your time and think everything through as carefully as you can until you feel that have a sure grasp of the pros and cons. Don't feel rushed, especially if it involves a major financial outlay. You'll have enough surprises as you go along; the more you can plan in advance, the less the surprises will throw you.

Good luck and by all means, have FUN chasing your dream!


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