Turn your passion for orchid plants into cash in the bank by starting a business. Start small by selling orchid plants out of your home as a part-time business or go full time with a retail shop. It's not complicated to start a business, but you should have knowledge about business basics before you get started.
Research the different kinds of orchid businesses. For example, you could sell potted orchids, that you grow yourself, at farmers markets or sell them to florists on a wholesale basis. Other options include direct sales through your website, on auction sites or your own retail store. If you are an expert on orchid care, you may want to add troubleshooting and consulting to your services. Orchids require special potting soil, actually bark, misting, pots and humidity. Offering that type of equipment is one more option. Finally, consider selling orchids as cut flowers.
Complete a marketing plan to reach your desired market niche. Determine who the customers are. Develop strategies through implementing a website, fliers, brochures, publicity and word of mouth. Track the effectiveness of each. For example, you might contact gardening clubs, organizations and shows and offer to present a "How to Take Care of Orchids" seminar. Offer attendees a 50 percent off coupon if they buy an orchid from you.
Set up your business entity. Consider the pros and cons of a limited liability corporation, sole proprietorship, C corporation or S corporation. File the proper documents based on your state's regulation. There may be fees involved for the filing. Establish a business account for receiving revenue and paying expenses. If you're going to be selling to the general public, establish a merchant account to accept credit cards. You will also need an accounting system.
Obtain the required licensing and registration. You will need a business license for the state, as well as the city you live in. If you're selling to the final consumer, as opposed to wholesaling orchids, obtain a sales tax or privilege tax license. That sales tax license is required by many vendors to give you a discount on your purchases. Check into whether there are any restrictions on importing orchids from other countries. Obtain an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service.
Select vendors. Orchids are not readily grown from seed. They require a very specific fungus to germinate. If you're propagating the orchids through divisions, you'll need sources for your original stock. Orchids are delicate. Consider shipping costs and minimum required purchases when choosing vendors. Besides the orchid plants, you'll need orchid planting medium, orchid pots -- they have slits in the sides for drainage -- fertilizer and a hothouse setup.
Set up the greenhouse, or hothouse. Orchids require high humidity and a temperature range within no more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit of variance. Unless you live in the tropics, or one of the humid southern states, you will have to provide that environment artificially. Orchids don't require direct sunlight, so the hothouse could be in a room in home rather than outside. Besides the hothouse, you'll require a humidifier, fan for air circulation, grow lights and a method of keeping the room at a consistent temperature.
A few hours spent with an attorney and an accountant on what legal entity your business should take -- a corporation, LLC or sole proprietorship -- is money well spent.
Grow your business slowly so you don't outgrow your financial resources.
- "Orchid Growing Basics"; Gustav Schoser; 1993
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