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New Garden Centers in THIS Day and Age?

You’ve got to be crazy! Who, in their right mind would dare start a garden center now?

Well there are some people who are. Read about them in the Garden Center Birth & Re-birth room.

It is in the nature of our business that we’re approached by wanna-be garden center owners. The reasons for starting a garden center now are many, but these five are the most popular.

  1. The green movement is pointing our direction – now that you can sell the organic, grow-it-at-home lifestyle to customers whether they really care or not at least there is this choice of a new career.
  2. Cashing out from corporate America is in-style – when you don’t have a choice and your job is eliminated. The folks who’ve been hating their job all those years have been looking at the greener grass on our side of the fence all those years – never mind the synthetic fertilizers. Working with plants and in nature is actually so much more fun than pushing paper and people, making quota, and commuting.
  3. They’ve always wanted to own a store, and a garden center and gift shoppe would allow them tax deductions, a way to buy wholesale , and would give them and their friends a really cool place to shop that they don’t have locally.
  4. This greenhouse place is for sale. It’s a mess, but I could clean it up and make it really cool. It’s near my house. My kids, friends, and family will help.
  5. I’ve already got this other business. I won’t have to duplicate everything I do. Putting more money in the bank and writing more checks will only take a little more time. I can hire people to do the rest. (This one most commonly comes from the mouths of landscapers and accountants.)

The reasons each of them give give vary. Mix & match from the list above. We hear mostly from people who do have some real money to invest, but really no clue as to how they will make it really work.

Generally speaking, we work hard to convince these folks NOT to start a business. Any business. Why would we do that? Because if we can talk them out of it they didn’t have a chance of making it very far in the first place. They’ll save themselves and their family a lot of grief. They’ll save a fortune, if they have one to save in the first place.

Most of the time as soon as they figure out how much it will cost for us to help them not make mistakes they decide to hang on to their money because they need it to get the business going. They can always hire a manager and people with experience, right? Well yes they can, and that is likely where they will go wrong the most. Many of those experienced people who are looking for a job in a garden center are looking for a reason, and its not because they know what they need to know about running a business, especially someone else’s business.

Actually, there are very good reasons to own a garden center, or any business for that matter . Did you know that there is a real purpose of owning a business? In the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter two reasons are identified.

  1. Financial independence
  2. Freedom of time

After you boil it all down, these are the real reasons garden center owners are gravitating toward. Sometimes it takes years, even generations to come to this understanding. We help some of them cut to the chaste.

So how are you doing at these?

Don’t confuse cash-flow with financial independence.

Don’t confuse flexibility with your time with freedom of your time.

We’re going to have to work on both of these aren’t we?

Yes, working with plants would be so fun and rewarding. It’s the perfect lifestyle in an ideal world. Yes, in the ideal world it could be perfect. But here in the real world it is more likely to become a nightmare for those who don’t really know exactly what they’re doing. Those people are few and far between. Even the seasoned veterans are having a really tough time in this business. And you think you’re going to make it work as a newby? Let’s get real, or let’s not play.

Yes, it is a good time to get into the garden center business – if you know what you’re doing, if you’re doing it for the right reasons, and if you have a lot of money to work with and nerves of steel. Oh yea, better get some good help with it – it might actually be less expensive than making all the classic mistakes, or even one of them.

Why did  you start your business? What did you learn the hard way? Leave a comment!

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5 Responses

  1. The real reason was to spread the good news about Jesus Christ by providing an example of a sucessful Christian business and using the assets and profits of the company to directly help folks in need. It is in the by-laws of the corporation of why it exists.

    We have not used the consultants in the most effective manner and this has led to lost income.

  2. Great article Sid. I have see 3 different start-up garden centers in my part of Arizona, all 3 have failed. It was big California money cashing out and the thought of how fun it would be to run their own nursery. One even hired my GM away from me to run their place. They are typically crushed within the first 24 months.

  3. Running a business is tough work. That’s why so few do it successfully. If you like to sleep through the night, this is not for you.

    I got into the business right out of junior college. Just thought it was cool to be in the garden business. None of the people I worked with back then are in the garden businesses any more.

    Right now it’s very hard to make ends meet. Here in nor Cal landscaping has all but dried up. No one buys large garden ornaments, large Japanese maples, or other high ticket items anymore. Profit margin is shrinking. No one knows what is coming out of Washington, or Sacramento concerning taxes and regulations.

    Never the less we are reinventing what it means to be a nursery. With great change comes great uncertainty. Most people can’t handle it, and times I wonder myself about what the future holds.

    I believe there will always be nurseries and garden centers, but what they will be like compared to now, we will have to see. The biggest threat to any venture is getting stuck in the mud, and being unwilling to change with the times. The older I get the harder at times to change. Change we must. It keeps you young at heart and excited about the future. With all the doom and gloom out there just being excited about the future attracts others who are looking for a positive message.

  4. Love your blog! The two reasons for owning a business really hit home to me, and maybe they could be summarized into just one: independence.

  5. You have that right Art. Independent, often to a fault. But hey, I know a country that was formed out of that. We have to remember, its was a declaration of independence, but still “United”.

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