There are several questions you want answered before you start your herb growing business. A smart business plan will help you succeed in the herbal business. Do some thinking before you plunge right in. Here are some questions to ask:
1.What herbs do I want to sell?
Think hard on this one. Don’t offer every herb you can think of. Instead think of a focus or niche, an area you want to specialize in. Do you want to grow culinary herbs, such as basil, cilantro, or oregano? Or would you prefer medicinal herbs? Herbs in this group include St John’s wort, lemon balm, or catnip. Or maybe you’d really like to get into herbal teas. Herbal teas are growing in popularity, especially ones with medicinal values called “infusions.” Ordinary teas are generally steeped for about five minutes, but infusions are steeped for 20-30 minutes in a closed jar, which can help bring about a stronger flavor.
Obviously you’re not limited to just picking one of those three types of teas. You’re welcome to try some from each group, but again, don’t pick too many, or you might go mad trying to take care of all of them as each herb might require different care. Care is something else to think about. What is the climate like where you live? Do you have the time and energy to devote to taking proper care of the herbs and making sure they grow to their maximum potential? How much space do you have to devote to your herbs?
After you’ve decided what herbs you want to grow, you’re ready to begin growing them. But still, that brings up two more questions you should ask.
2. How will I sell my herbs?
There are a variety of ways to sell your herbs. In some places it is legal to sell them right out of your garden. Be sure to be clear on this before running your herbal business from your backyard. You can also advertise online at Craigslist.org and Backpage.com.
You also might want to consider selling them at a fundraiser. People are generally more willing to pay higher prices if they know some of the profits are going to a charitable cause. It’s a win-win for everyone, as the you help your favorite group raise money, and you still get about two thirds to three quarters of the sale prices for yourself.
And of course the most popular way to sell herbs is your local farmer’s market. You will most likely have to pay a small fee for the space, but you’ll open yourself up to a large number of customers. But that brings up another question.
3. How will I get customers and keep them coming back?
First of all, offer a great product! Grow good herbs. This is where specializing can come in handy as maybe you can build a reputation of “that great Chamomile seller.” Offer good prices, but don’t feel like you have to make your prices the lowest of anyone’s around.
Next, make a flyer or business card to keep your name in your customers’ head. Maybe make an email mailing list to keep people updated on what you have for sale, where you’ll be selling your herbs, and how they can get in contact with you. Like any business, establishing a personal relationship with your customers will go a long way to keep them coming back for more.
You can succeed in the herb business, but it’s helpful to answer some questions beforehand. Don’t worry, they’re not difficult. It’s certainly easier than that chemistry test you took in high school. Just answer the questions, and you’ll be on your way to success in the herb business. To learn more about the business of herbs, read Growing Herbs for Profit.