When we think of plant nurseries, it’s easy to get caught up in daydreams of gently watering plants and being surrounded by lush greenery. Even though this can certainly become a reality, there is so much more to running a plant nursery business which often gets overlooked. 

Truthfully, having a plant nursery business requires a lot of labour, planning, precision and management of elements that are out of your control.  

There’s also the legal aspects of having the right documentation and registrations so you can legally run your business. We’ll explore some of this in the article, so keep reading to learn more. 

Is Plant Nursery A Profitable Business?

Plant nurseries grow plants for commercial or research purposes. Like most other types of businesses, plant nurseries have the potential to be profitable when the business is effectively managed. 

You might be passionate and very knowledgeable when it comes to plants. However, running a plant nursery and making a profitable business venture out if it will require some business acumen. 

How To Start A Plant Nursery Business

The first thing you need to do when starting your plant nursery business is research! Gather all the information you can about plants, competition, business structures, the current market, advertising opportunities, financing for your business and everything else that is relevant. 

Your business success will depend a lot on how prepared you are, so don’t rush  this step and be as thorough as possible. 

Get A Business Plan For Your Plant Nursery

Once you’ve done all the research you can, it’s important to put all that information in one place. 

A business plan is a document where all your research, goals and plans for your business are kept. You might think you’ve got it all figured out, but it’s always worthwhile to start writing things down and organising your information. 

It can also help with keeping your business on track when you find yourself getting caught up in the details. 

How detailed you make your business plan is up to you – be mindful that this is part of laying down the foundation for your plant nursery business and proceed accordingly.  

If you plan on using investors to fund your business, there’s a good chance they are going to want to see some type of business plan as well! In this case, it’s wise to get a Business Plan Non-Disclosure Agreement to protect your inside information and trade secrets. 

Register Your Plant Nursery Business

Now that you’ve decided on the kind of plant nursery business you want and have an idea of how you are going to go about running it, it’s time to register your business

Every business in Australia requires registration and it’s all done in the same place. You can register your business with the online Business Registration Service

During this process, you will also have the option to register for any taxes that will apply to your business and get your business name registered

After you have submitted your application and it’s approved, you will receive an Australian Business Number (ABN). Your ABN is an 11-digit number that is unique to your business. Keep this close, as it’s the number that will be used to identify your business and you’ll require it when dealing with government agencies. 

If you plan on registering your plant nursery as a company, then you will need to take the additional step of applying for an Australian Company Number (ACN). The ACN is a 9-digit number that serves a similar purpose to the ABN. It’s used to legally identify your company and monitor it. 

Get Legal Documents For Your Plant Nursery Business

Once your business is registered, it’s time to start thinking about protecting your business. The legal documents you have in place are going to play a role in determining how your business’ future shapes up, so it’s essential to get this step right. 

We’ve listed a few types of legal documents that you might find useful. 

Non-Disclosure Agreement 

A Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is a type of confidentiality agreement that is used to protect information. 

As a business owner and plant breeder, protecting your business’ privacy is essential. Your business operations, the plants you are working on and any trade secrets that you may have are all going to contribute to the success of your business, so it’s natural not to want to air everything out to the public. 

However, you can’t always keep everything to yourself. At some point, you may need to expose parts of your business to investors, employees or service providers. When this happens, having an NDA in place can let both parties know what information needs to be kept private and holds everyone accountable in maintaining that privacy.  

Employment Agreement

As your business grows, you might start to hire employees to help run your business. When hiring employees, it’s important to foster a healthy working environment. 

This starts with clearly communicating the rights and responsibilities of each employee, allowing everyone to come into work knowing what is expected of them. In turn, it’s important for your employees to know what they can also expect from you.

Getting all of this written down in an Employment Agreement is the best way to start an employer/employee relationship. Generally, an Employment Contract covers:

  • A description of the role
  • Duties and responsibilities
  • Leave, entitlements, pay 
  • Working days and hours
  • Termination 
  • Confidentiality 
  • Dispute resolution 

Supply Agreement 

As a business owner, there’s a good chance you will also be a customer. In order to have the right kind of materials available to run your plant nursery, you might have a supplier for things like soil, plant food or pest control. 

Consistency can really help keep things on track which is why you may want to consider having a Supply Agreement in place with any suppliers you decide to utilise. 

A Supply Agreement can include: 

  • The materials that are to be supplied
  • When delivery is to occur
  • Fees and payment methods
  • The length of the contract 
  • Termination of the agreement
  • How disputes are to be resolved 

If you are working with overseas suppliers, it’s important to make sure your contract is internationally enforceable

Starting A Home Based Plant Nursery Business

You might be thinking of starting your plant nursery from home. There are a number of benefits that come with running a business from homes – you can save on renting out a space, you will have more access to your plants and there’s no need to commute to and from your place of business. 

As great as running your plant nursery from home can sound, there are a number of questions you will need to answer first. 

Your first consideration here is whether or not your space is adequate for your plant nursery. Consider not only whether it’s a good space to raise various types of plants in, but also, whether it will be an accessible location for any customers. 

If you plan on having employees come in, you need to consider additional matters such as whether or not they will be able to find parking for their shifts or if your home is capable of providing an environment that is in line with workplace health and safety obligations

Finally, you will also need to get in touch with your local council. Depending on the zoning of your location, you may need to obtain special permission from the council to start a plant nursery. 

Different councils have varied rules, so it’s important to find out what regulations apply to your locality and follow them. 

Can I Run My Business Online? 

In order to overcome some of the limitations of running a business from home, you might consider selling online, either completely or along with your physical store. 

Selling online can open you up to a wider market, however, there are a couple of legal considerations you need to make. 

Firsty, workplace health and safety obligations still apply to employees that work remotely. Managing your duties towards them will simply look different to a more traditional, in person workplace set up.

For example, as an employer, you will likely need to ensure that employees working from home have the right equipment, schedule routine check-ins with them and make sure all channels of communication between staff are being utilised appropriately. You can take a look at Safe Work Australia for more information on your workplace health and safety obligations. 

Additionally, running a business online also means there are some legal documents you will need to look into getting. Entering the online world presents several cyber security risks. As such, you need to think about how to comply with your privacy obligations and protect the data of your customers and users. 

A Privacy Policy is needed for any business that collects the personal information of its customers. It’s essentially a document that lets consumers know what information of theirs is being collected and what is being done with it. 

Therefore, if you are getting the email addresses, bank details and contact information of your customers, you need to have a good Privacy Policy in place to be compliant with the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles (APP). 

For an online business, the business website is an important place. Therefore, it’s important to protect it as you would any other place of business. Website Terms and Conditions are common legally binding terms between you and any users of your website. The document lets people know the rules for using your website and gives you the authority to take more control of it. 

For example, it allows you to remove content from your website at your discretion and limit your liability. 

What Should I Know About Plant Breeders’ Rights?

Finally, if you’re going to be running a business that involves working with plants, then it is imperative you are aware of plant breeders’ rights

Plant breeders’ rights are a type of intellectual property protection granted through IP Australia. Essentially, if a person registers a right to a certain plant, then they exclusively own the right to commercially utilise that plant for the next 20 years. 

As someone running a plant nursery, it’s important to make sure you have the right to sell specific plant breeds, especially the more unique ones. If you happen to be selling a plant breed without the permission of the individual who owns the rights to it, then you could be in infringement of their plant breeders rights. 

To see what plants have been registered, you can always search for a plant breeder right

If you happen to invent a unique plant breed yourself, then it’s in your best interest to get that plant breed registered so you can benefit from it as well! 

It’s good to have the help of a legal expert when going through this process. Contact us today for more information on your plant breeders rights. 

Key Takeaways

Starting up a plant nursery has the potential to be an exciting and fruitful venture, so  it’s really important to make sure you’ve got all your business legals sorted along the way! To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • When starting a plant nursery, conduct your due diligence and create a business plan 
  • Register your business and get all your legal documents sorted, such as supply agreements  
  • If your starting a plant nursery from home, consider your remote work obligations and council permissions 
  • If you plan on selling online, get the right legal documents in place to do so  
  • Be aware of plant breeders rights – check to see you are not selling another’s plant breed without their permission and if you happen to invent your own, be sure to get it registered! 

If you would like a consultation on starting a plant nursery business, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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