As followers of our blog know we make our money growing plants. We have a wholesale plant nursery.
This means we grow plants in large numbers and then sell them to retail plant nurseries, garden centres, garden designers and landscapers.
Our block of land is only 1.25 acres, of this about half is dedicated to growing plants for resale. The other half we enjoy as gardens, growing fruit and vegetables for our own personal consumption.
People are quite often shocked that we can make a living off 1.25acres of land. They think its just a hobby!
But no fair dinkum we make all of our income growing plants on effectively 3/4 of an acre.
So let me share with you the exact break down of our expenses and our total sales. As you’ll see we aren’t exactly rolling in the dough, but we have an amazing lifestyle, working from home and spending time with our young kids.
Overall Sales and expenses
So as i write this article i have just finished putting together the breakdown of our sales and expenses for the 2019 financial year. Here they are:
- Total sales for the year equal $99,984.10 (so close to six figures)
- Our total expenses were $39,935.63
- Giving us a profit of $60,048.47
Like i said not exactly rolling in the dough, but not to bad when you factor in the fact we have no commute, no bosses, no annoying workmates and therefore no stress!
Because we work from home we are able to claim a percentage of our electricity, phone bills/internet, water and mortgage as expenses.
Some of our biggest costs are
- This year we spent $7,411.23 on pots.
- $5,237.77 on transport.
- $4,191.00 on premium potting mix.
- $3,009.38 on plant labels.
- $2,556.73 on repairs
- $4,020.99 on equipment
- $3,604.24 in the office (this includes phones/internet/advertising and website)
How did we start
We bought our house in January 2008. The house and 1.25 acres we purchases for $375,000. It was just before the GFC (Global Financial Crisis).
We had $75,000 saved from the sale of the previous house. In February 2008 we got married and by November we welcomed our first born.
I can remember my parents paying off their mortgage when interest rates were 17%. At the time we took out our mortgage interest rates were 8.44%.
Because i could remember the struggle for mum and dad i locked our rate in for 10years! Big mistake, as interest rates plummeted and we were stuck.
But hindsight is a beautiful thing! The fixed rate gave as the ability to know exactly what our repayments would be as we started our family and business.
In the beginning we continued to work for someone else, by November 2008 Petra was looking after our son, so now we are down to one income.
The first thing we had to do was grow some plants so we could sell. I started taking cuttings and sowing seeds on any plants that i could get my hands on and i knew we could sell.
In the beginning we had no money for any infrastructure. All the cuttings and seeds were sitting on the back porch to shelter them from the elements.
After a few months the porch was full and we luckily received a “baby bonus” from the government. This paid for our small poly tunnel greenhouse.
Now we had more room for our cuttings and seedlings.
Next we needed an area to grow the cuttings and seedlings on (to a bigger more saleable size). I bought some gravel (for drainage) and weed mat.
I had to wheelbarrow the gravel in as i couldn’t afford a machine. This area was quite small but it allowed us to fit about 8,000 pots on the ground.
Selling the plants
Now that we had a few plants we could sell, it still wasn’t enough to approach retail nurseries. So we sold our plants at farmers markets.
The markets were great because we could see first hand what kind of plants the general public were buying and how much they were willing to pay.
All the profits from the markets went back into the nursery. Slowly after about 18months we had built up enough stock to begin to approach retail nurseries.
Petra had been working in the wholesale plant nursery since 2002 and i came along in 2004, so we had a good understanding of the nurseries that might be interested in the types of plants we grow.
Slowly we built up a clientele of about 15 nurseries. Once we began supplying retail nurseries on a regular basis we were able to invest much more money into our nursery.
We built a shade house and expanded the nursery growing area. And this time i didn’t need to wheelbarrow the gravel in, i could afford a dingo.
In 2012 we welcomed the second addition to our family and it was time for me to stop working for someone else and work full time in the nursery.
Over the last 7 years our sales numbers have been fairly consistent. Some years are slightly better and some are slightly down.
Could you start a wholesale nursery today?
Absolutely! We are so small. If we can make a living doing this in 2019 others could as well.
There is a few things that are a must.
You’ll need access to a large population.
What i mean is you’ll need people to but your plants. The best most profitable and consistent buyers are always in large population centres.
Over the years we have supplied smaller regional centres and even if they have beautiful nurseries and do everything right the sales just aren’t as consistent.
With any business cash flow is a must and you need to have clients that will buy off you on a consistent basis.
Our nursery is an hour from Melbourne. The greater Melbourne region has a population of 5 million people.
We tend to only have to make the trip 1-2 times a week, however during spring this can be 2-4 times. But you don’t mind when your making money.
If you can access reliable and cheap transport it might be feasible to live further away from a major city, but here in Australia transport cost are astronomical so we do all our own transport.
Love the work
This isn’t a job for everyone! You need to have a real passion for the outdoors and plants.
Cause you’re going to be out there in the elements when it raining, when it’s boiling and when all the plants are blown over.
It’s also not going to make you rich, unless you scale and hire staff.
I find managing people stressful and not worth any financial reward. Im happy plodding along.
If you’ve never worked in the industry before, get a job and stick with it for 2-3 years. After that time if its still something your passionate about pursue your dream!
The money is atrocious but think of it as a paid internship. It will pay dividends later.
Keep debt to a minimum
Most businesses fail in the first 2 years and a wholesale plant nursery is no different.
The only debt we had was the mortgage.
We have never borrowed money for any of the infrastructure. Our first delivery van was a tiny ford econovan that could only do 80km/h (50mp/h) top speed.
Keep reinvesting the profits. Work for someone else while you start the business. You’ll know when it’s time to leave.
Would you like to hear more or ask a question about starting a wholesale plant nursery?
If so, or if this post has just intrigued you click the link to subscribe to our mailing list.
When you get the welcome email write back to us and tell us what you would like to learn about.
Don’t forget we share information on how to propagate the plants we grow. Click the link to check that out.
Do we have any other income streams?
Currently no. But i have enjoyed building the everydaywits website and mainneerimnusery.
So much so that i started another website on my other passion, ponds. The website is ozponds.com and eventually i would like to do something related to ponds.
At the moment I’m just toying with some ideas, but we will see. For those that follow along with our blog I’ll keep you posted.