Posted: Mon 3rd Dec 2012
Today see the publication of our latest book, aimed at anyone thinking of starting and running a gardening business. Design Grow Sell by Sophie DaviesÂ is a comprehensive guide to planting the seeds for a successful enterprise - but what are the real essentials that every gardening entrepreneur needs to know?
What do you really need to know to get a successful gardening business off the ground? asks Sophie (left). What came through loud and clear from the expert gardeners, designers and nursery owners and growers I interviewed for my new book is:
1. There is no shortage of work out there even in these finance-stricken times for reliable people who can do a good job. 2. But that cost has become an important factor - look around for the best quote; make sure your client/customer is getting a good deal. 3. There is not enough plant knowledge out there. There are too many designers, but not enough people with a good grounding in plants. 4. So it's really important to get proper horticultural training. 5. Running your own gardening business is really tough, especially at the start, and it can take time to get going and get referrals. 6. Your early work will probably come through family and friends. 7. But that word of mouth will ultimately become your most powerful marketing tool. 8. Finding a niche is key, as is building a sound network of contacts and a database of clients. 9. That you should never, ever work for someone you don't like. 10. And finally, you have to be absolutely passionate about what you do.
Tend to your network
That all-important network of contacts should include:
satisfied customers who may use your services again and can be called on for a reference if you need one
social network followers on Facebook and/or Twitter who can help spread the news of your fantastic new open garden or nursery. A 'Join us on Facebook' (or Twitter) link on your website, business card, invoice or leaflet prompts customers (existing and potential) to connect with you online
complementary local businesses whose specialist services you might need and who you know you can call on to do a good job. These might include tree surgeons, lighting specialists, surveyors and landscape contractors
complementary local businesses through which you might actually get work. These could include architects, house developers and sales and letting agents (great sources of garden tidy-up jobs)
suppliers you use of plants, pots, gardening equipment and turf, who may be able to recommend your company to their own customers with a card at their till or a link on their website through to yours
fellow gardening professionals, perhaps like-minded people you studied with and can call on for advice and help.
Nurture new contacts
New gardening, design and nursery businesses should take advantage, too, of existing networks, including local horticultural societies and national trade bodies. Many of these organise awards, annual conferences and local cluster group meetings. They can be a great boost to your contacts book and morale. Also, get out and about and develop new contacts of your own. Talk to people confidently about your business. Carry a card and tell people what you do. You never know who you might meet, even in the course of a trip to the shops or the school run, or what exciting new business opportunities this might lead to. Sophie Davies is an experienced journalist who studied garden design at the English Gardening School. She has written for 25 Beautiful Gardens, Homes & Gardens and The English Garden and had her own design practice until moving out of London. Today, when not writing, she spends her free time gardening at her home in West Sussex.
Buy Design Grow Sell for Â£12.99
Published in association with Country Living magazine, Design Grow Sell by Sophie Davies is a complete guide to starting and running a successful gardening business from your home. The book looks at the diverse opportunities that exist in gardening, from running a nursery to building a garden maintenance business, alongside inspirational profiles of 20 small gardening businesses. [product id="56592"] Photo credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy