If you have a bit of a green thumb and love taking care of foliage, you might consider starting a plant shop. This business could be a great way to bring more colour into your community while earning money for yourself.

With this guide, you can take a seedling of an idea and grow it into a successful venture. We cover everything you need to know to get started. You’ll be sprouting with success in no time.

Learn everything you need to know about:

  • Funding
  • Location
  • Equipment
  • Suppliers
  • Unique selling point
  • Target audience
  • Branding
  • Marketing
  • Payments
  • Bookkeeping

Funding

Before you can start, you’ll need to think about how you’ll fund your plant shop. There are a few methods to consider, and we’ll cover the three most popular.

Self-funding

If you have the necessary capital to start up your business, you’ll benefit from retaining complete control. Plus, you can avoid taking on debt or paying interest on a loan.

Small business loans

On the other hand, you may decide you need to take out a bank loan. You’ll need to submit an application to seek the amount you need. Not all applications are successful, but having a strong business plan will improve your chances.

Investments

The third popular funding option is seeking investments. These can be from friends and family, to invest for a share of the business. Or you could approach angel investors, which, again, would require a good business plan. Professional investors may also offer guidance and connections in exchange for a stake in your business.

Location

After you secure funding, you can decide how to structure your shop. Will it be an online-only delivery service or will you open a physical shop? Either way, you are likely going to need a location

Physical store

If you decide to open a physical shop, search for a location that is accessible and think about how you’ll draw customers. If you look to sell small, indoor plants, a town or city centre may be appropriate. But, if you plan to sell larger ones, your shop may need to be accessible to parking. 

Online store

If your shop is online, you will need a storage warehouse for the plants. The location must be accessible for a courier company to deliver your goods if you don’t plan to do it yourself. With that said, maintaining a warehouse full of plants may require a lot of electricity and water, so look at the utility rates when choosing a location.

Equipment

A physical store or warehouse will require you to keep the plants healthy enough to sell. To do this, you will likely need to think about the necessary equipment

  • Moisture metre: tells you if your plants need watering, which may be challenging to judge indoors.
  • Watering vessel: this can range from a watering can to a sprinkler system, depending on the number of plants.
  • Humidifier: this releases water vapour to increase moisture in the air.
  • Pots: these are necessary to keep plants in.

Supplies

You could plan to grow the plants yourself, but that will result in extra waiting time before you can sell. Alternatively, you could have a dedicated supplier lined up to purchase the plants. 

There may be wholesale suppliers of plants or local garden centres, depending on your area. If you intend to bulk-buy plants from them, you may be able to negotiate lower prices per unit. Plus, finding a reliable and exclusive supplier could lead to deals or loyalty discounts. 

When choosing suppliers, you also need to think about transportation. Some suppliers may deliver to you, but if that is not the case, you may need to add a van to the equipment your business requires. Driving to restock or deliver to customers, also means you need to keep track of fuel costs. Countingup, which is a business current account and accounting tool, lets you capture receipts with your phone’s camera and record them as expenses.

Unique selling point

To succeed with your plant shop, consider your unique selling point (USP). A USP helps you choose what elements to focus on to bring in customers. By identifying a gap in the market, you can provide people with something only your shop can offer. 

For example, you could choose to sell a particular type of plant, such as tropical plants. 

Alternatively, you could choose to create a unique experience for your customers. For example, you could launch a subscription service where you send customers one plant a month, including all of the plant care instructions. 

Target audience

Another important aspect to consider for your plant shop is your target audience. This is the group or a few groups of different people who are likely to be interested enough in what you sell to become customers.

Market research

To help you discover your target audience, conduct market research. There are many ways to do this, but speaking to the public is most straightforward. For example, you can send out surveys or set up interviews, which allow you to ask questions to find out who will be interested in the shop. 

For further research, look at the overall plant market by seeing what similar businesses offer. It may help you to determine the demand for certain products and the prices others charge. You can use this information to put together a sales forecast which is useful for a business plan.

Customer profile

After conducting market research, you may have found some similarities between the people your plant shop most appeals to. To use that information effectively, you can put together customer profiles (sometimes called customer avatars). These profiles outline hypothetical people who embody the characteristics of your ideal shoppers.

Customer profiles can include:

  • Names
  • Ages
  • Genders
  • Occupations
  • Interests
  • Lifestyles

Together this profile can summarise who the person is and their lifestyle. It will be a helpful asset for effective branding and marketing.

Branding

For new ventures, differentiating your business from others is crucial to success. The best way to do this is to create a strong brand for your plant shop. Base this brand on your customer profiles and judge what appeals to that audience.

The two most impactful elements to your brand are your name and logo. They indicate to customers what your business is and can form a solid first impression. Your title should communicate your brand’s personality verbally or in written form, and the logo should show it visually.

Brand guidelines

Beyond the name and logo, consider other things to form your branding. Making decisions about these early on and creating brand guidelines mean that you will find it easier to build recognition and form relationships with your customers.

When writing brand guidelines, you can include:

  • Colour scheme — choose two or three colours that your brand will use visually (e.g. Coca Cola’s red and white).
  • Tone of voice — decide how you would like to communicate to customers (e.g. friendly, conversational and often cheeky like Innocent).
  • Brand story — create a narrative that suits the feelings you aim to bring out in your customers (e.g. IKEA’s ambition to make furniture accessible).
  • Typography — choose one or two fonts and use variations (e.g. Instagram uses the Billabong font).

Marketing

Once you determine your business brand, you can build a marketing strategy around it. So, look back to your customer profiles and think about how you’ll reach those people. To make sure you can get the best out of promoting your business, you should lay out some goals to achieve and a strategy for your campaign. A marketing campaign may involve a few different ways to advertise but they all will aim for the same goal.

Measurable goals

Before you launch a campaign to promote your brand, decide what you set out to achieve. It can be easy to say you want to bring in more customers or gain more followers on social media. Your goals will also need to be measurable, so you can track your progress.

To establish these aims, consider specific numbers to strive for. It would also be helpful to set yourself a timeline. You can look back on the goals and see how close you are to achieving them.

If for some reason, you don’t reach the goal by the time your campaign ends, you can decide to change what you do next time. For example, say you aim to increase your followers on Instagram by 200, but only reach 50. To fix this, you may increase output or alter the content you post.  

Strategy

To work towards your goals, you need to plan out a campaign strategy. Choose the proper channels to put your marketing and what call to action you will use. 

Channels

There are many channels you can use to market your plant shop with a range of costs. For example, a television advert involves costs to filming, producing and paying for the space. On the other hand, a radio advert would be cheaper if you use a local station and record it yourself.

Today, social media is a popular place to focus on for marketing because it’s where most customers spend their time. But it depends on your market. If you aim at people above 65 it may not be the best way to reach them. To decide on your channels, think about the ideal customer and compare marketing they could see within your budget.

Call to action

The CTA (call to action) needs to be defined and follow the strategy you have laid for your marketing. Without a critical message, it could confuse customers and fail to get them to engage with your brand. All of your marketing should follow a call to action that encourages the audience to do something. For example, you may want people to follow your social media page, enter a competition, or visit the shop, for example. 

Payments

Depending on the type of business your plant shop is, whether online or at a physical location, you have to consider how you want to take payments from customers.

Online payments

If customers pay online, you need to have a website that will allow them to do this. Your site will need to be updated regularly with your catalogue and have a dedicated secure payment method. Many eCommerce businesses use website builders like Shopify, which help you to set up a site and let customers pay. 

In-store payments

If you open a physical shop, you will have to decide whether to take cash, cards or both. 

Accepting cash allows you to have the money immediately, which will increase your cash flow (money being transferred in and out) to help you cover business costs. With that said, it can turn your shop into a security risk if you store lots of cash. Another downside is that keeping track of your money is more complex, as it does not leave a paper trail for you to record. Cash makes filing taxes more challenging to look back on the year.

Card payments are much easier to record and follow. Still, if a customer uses a credit card, providers often take a percentage with a transaction fee. Using cards makes paying much quicker and easier for the customer, but some older customers may still like the option to pay cash.

For more information, see: how to accept credit card payments.

Bookkeeping with Countingup

Taking payments of any kind through your business would benefit from setting up a separate business account. Having a dedicated place to direct the money from sales makes seeing what is coming into your plant shop more straightforward. 

Countingup is the business’s current account with built-in accounting software, including an expense categorisation feature. It lets you sort your costs in an accessible and transparent way. 

Having your incoming and outgoing available for you to see through the Countingup app also provides you with a cash flow insights feature. It gives you updates on the financial management of your business, which continue as you grow your shop.

Start your three-month free trial today. 
Find out more here.