Growing your greenhouse, one business plan at a time

May 27, 2019
Written by Mark Ferguson
The business planning process is a critical tool for the creation, expansion or diversification of any business, and it needs to be updated regularly. A business plan is essentially a game plan – a written record of goals and how to reach them. It should describe the product or service offered, customers and market competition, management and financial arrangements, as well as a marketing plan.

Planning is essential to the success of any greenhouse business and helps to:
  • Define goals and outline roles and responsibilities
  • Set benchmarks to compare progress
  • Provide documentation often required by financial institutions, lenders, and government assistance programs
  • Make decisions and communicate with employees, family and investors
While you may use outside professionals such as lawyers and accountants to help develop a business plan, keep in mind that you are the one who will have to present, summarize and answer questions about it. Set aside the time required to complete and get familiar with your business plan.

If you are thinking of starting a greenhouse operation or looking to diversify or expand, a business plan can help you assess your idea. As you begin, examine every aspect of your business carefully, being realistic in assessing what your capabilities are as well as the opportunities and challenges. Consider the following questions:
  • What is the purpose of my business?
  • What is the specific market I want to fill? Are customers willing and able to purchase my product or service?
  • What are my business goals?
  • Do I have the necessary skills, abilities and knowledge?
  • How much money do I need at start-up and beyond? Do I have the resources? If not, where could the funds come from?
A typical business plan is comprised of the following components:

Summary and business profile
Outline at a high level your purpose and business concept – in other words, why you believe the marketplace needs your product or service.
A business profile should include a brief description of your company’s organization and ownership.

Marketing plan
Describe the industry in which you operate, your strategy to penetrate or develop the target market, your sales targets, who your customers are, how your products will be priced, and how you will promote your product.

Make sure to address the four “P’s” of marketing: product, price, promotion and place. The plan should also strategically identify where you are now, where you want to be and how to get there.

Depending on the type of greenhouse product and market, you may want to outline some of the marketing requirements and activities that are unique to that product. For example, if you are a greenhouse vegetable grower, you may want to address that your products will usually be marketed through an organization such as Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG).  

Production plan
Provide a brief outline of your business’ basic operation. Remember that what is obvious to you as an operator may not necessarily be obvious to others.

Human resources plan 
Identify the people operating and advising your business, explaining how each area of the business will be handled and by whom. Outline how you intend to identify, recruit or promote key people and maintain a strong sense of collective achievement among all employees.

Financial plan
Create financial projections for business revenue, expenses and cash flow. This is the backbone of your business plan. It should include an income statement, cashflow summary, balance sheet, capital sales and purchases, and a financing schedule.

A professional business plan lays out a chart for your greenhouse operation’s success. Remember that this plan is intended to be a “living” document and should be referred to often and changed as needed. Also equally important, keep in mind that a good business plan is one that gets used.  

Mark Ferguson is the business management specialist at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Questions or comments? Email

Subscription Centre

New Subscription
Already a Subscriber
Customer Service
View Digital Magazine Renew

Most Popular

We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. To find out more, read our Privacy Policy.