We want to start a nursery

I received a comment from Spike Zelenka in southern Iowa. Here is the comment, “My girlfriend and I are looking seriously at 5 acres in Southern Iowa. With minimal bills, our monthly 'nut' is going to be a lot easier to crack. Our idea is lillys in the spring, periennials spring and summer, and pumpkins in the fall. we have also considered trees…and a friend almost had me talked into selling orgainic herbs to resturaunts. Between farmers markets, festivals, and hopefully building up relationships with small stores who could possibly buy seedlings from us, I think it’s a viable future for us. Keep in mind, we’re not looking at getting rich, but again, with minimal money going out in bills, are looking at doing something together, and enjoying life.

any thoughts, ideas, suggestions?

I have read alot of your blogs….and although you are much larger than we plan to get, feel you would have some great insight for us.”

Our nursery is a lot smaller than you think. My wife and I get along with a seasonal helper(s) to help run the place. We have just under two acres of land but the business is still small and we have a long way to go to reach our goals.

It sound like you are planning to be more than just a nursery as you want to sell pumpkins in season, herbs to restaurants, etc. This is a good way to look at the potential business as something more than just a nursery. Being new to the business with a fresh perspective is a good thing. Sure its nice to have experience going in but sometimes that can put blinders on that prevent you from seeing the possibilities. That may be a problem for me, who has been doing this so long its hard to know whether I am doing things just because thats how we did them in the past.

The other neat thing is you want to do something with your girlfriend that allows you to enjoy life. A business venture will certainly test your relationship. I have been fortunate that Monica and I are on the same page and work well together. I think its a rarity for mates to run the same business together, but it does happen.

The most important thing I read in your comment is you want to spend time together enjoying life. With my kids now out of the house that is the one thing I keep telling my Monica. I want to enjoy life which includes the occupation we have chosen. There are of course plenty of opportunities to get stressed out, and there are certainly times when I wonder why I stick with this business. You have to remind yourself each and every day to see the big picture and not get overwhelmed by the details. Yes, the details pay the bills, but the overall theme of having fun is what I think life is about. When you stop having fun its a clue to change strategies. I know plenty of stressed out nursery people and just people in general who have stopped having fun.

It great to hear people wanting to start small garden centers. It is a hopeful sign that this type of business will not go the way of the buggy whip factory. It means there is something that is still inspiring about working with plants and the people who like them. The one thing I have never done, but should or should have is come up with a written business plan. Run the potential figures and see if the business makes sense beyond just "I want to start a nursery". Sometimes all the good intentions in the world won't make a profit in a poor location or a market that wont support you. Never the less keep the dream alive and remember the journey, not some mythical "I have arrived" is the most important thing.