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Old 05-07-2010, 07:44 PM
 
Location: Northeast Florida
51 posts, read 72,708 times
Reputation: 36

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Hi, I'm starting a small scale farm business, a combination of raised beds and hydroponics. My intent is to produce fresh, pesticide free vegetables/herbs and flowers and market them to local consumers, restaurants, schools etc. I may also provide a home delivery service a few days a week (combination of seasonal items for a predetermined price, fresh picked just before delivery)

At the moment I have a small hydroponic system running and doing very well, I built it to test the waters, so to speak. I'm over the learning curve and my wife and I are planning on constructing a medium sized greenhouse on our property to house the operation.

I checked with the local agricultural extension and was informed that I dont need any type of certification of licensing if I'm selling non processed foods, meaning that as long as nothing else is done aside from picking the vegetables it's considered unprocessed.

I'm going to register the business as an LLC
what I have done so far:
-wrote a business plan
-built a small scale system (from seed starting-final growth)
-created a website/facebook/twitter page
-started marketing to friends

What should my next priorities be? I've been doing research and as far as I can tell I should
-register the LLC
-open a business checking account.

I checked with the county tax collectors office and it says "A local business tax receipt is no longer required for the privilege of engaging in a business, profession or occupation. "

I'm outside of city limits and there are no zoning ordinances to restrict what I do on my property. according the the Florida dept of business regulation..."selling raw produce, Does not need a DBPR License."So from what I can gather, I do not need any business license and I would be exempt from collecting sales tax on sales of fresh produce.

I've kept the receipts for the items I purchased related to the business and I'meping track of them using GnuCash, an open source accounting program. even though i havent registered the business yet will I still be able to use those expenses when I file taxes for the business?

I dont have any sales just yet, only expenses as everything is still growing and I'm not expecting to make much if any profit this year or at least until I can expand and produce more.

I'm also a tech geek and have a reseller account with a web hosting company so I built my own website, its http://hookedonponix.com thoughts, opinions, suggestions are welcome
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Old 05-07-2010, 08:24 PM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
10,424 posts, read 46,069,314 times
Reputation: 10436
Ya know something? Many people come on the Business forums with proposals about starting new businesses just like you. Most ideas suck and suck bad. I can't say that about your venture. I like it. Even in these depression times you can make this work. By what little you already said, it is quite obvious that you know what the hell you are doing and whatever you don't know you researched it well.

As a business man for about 35 years I'd like to think I got my finger on the pulse of this horrible economy. The govt don't, I do. They lie to us, I don't lie and it's real bad out there and worsening every day. I don't know much about your field but would like to.

You go for it my friend and good luck to you all the way. Our country needs people like you. Sorry I have no other guidance except to wish you well.
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Old 05-07-2010, 08:49 PM
 
Location: Northeast Florida
51 posts, read 72,708 times
Reputation: 36
Thanks I really appreciate the encouragement. I just keep plugging away at it and it's kinda fun too.
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Old 05-07-2010, 09:14 PM
 
1,106 posts, read 3,208,558 times
Reputation: 831
As long as you market it and can price accordingly I think you will do well. Especially if you enjoy the business from what it sounds like, you do. Your website is nice. Much nicer than mine. I love hydroponics.

If you are using the organic hydroponics and marketing to those people be carful b/c you are growing in PVC and those tree huggers get turned off by that.
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Old 05-07-2010, 09:50 PM
 
Location: Northeast Florida
51 posts, read 72,708 times
Reputation: 36
yeh I'm not marketing "Organic" , i put on the website it's pesticide free but "Is it Organic? No, Organic Certification started as a good idea but it’s blossomed into just another label that was taken over by the USDA and only benefits mass producers. It’s become cost prohibitive to small farms ($1000/yr for certification) and just because something is labeled “Organic” doesn’t mean it’s fresh or local."
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Old 05-07-2010, 10:59 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
26,166 posts, read 43,931,167 times
Reputation: 29670
Stay diversified in product and clients (no more than 20 % of your total sales to a single client; preferably less than 10%). My ex-FIL did hydroponics in the '70's, was very successful and built about 5 acres of hot houses. Had 2 major clients, then disease broke out in crop and some 'low ball' Mexico produce arrived. FIL went under, and was buried in both excess crop and bills. It wasn't pretty.

Good luck, I had a very nice fruit farm for many yrs while kids were young. I'm on Farm # 3 at the moment and getting taxed out ($33/day prop tax), as per what happened to my dad and both granddads. It is not ez to build a farm, so I hope yours works out. Enjoy your summer.
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Old 05-08-2010, 07:11 AM
 
Location: Great State of Texas
86,068 posts, read 76,111,677 times
Reputation: 27635
Are there any Farmer's Markets near you ? That might be another good, cheap way to enter the market.
Did you get business cards made up ? Do you have a name for your farm ?

I wish you the best of luck. I'm going somewhat the same route within the next 2 years but with a different commodity..direct sales of beef/pork and veggies/eggs at the Farmer's Market.

Until I move out to my place full time, I'm having it baled and will sell the hay to a local guy for his cows.

Amazon.com: Small Time Business Operator, 10th Edition: How to Start Your Own Business, Keep Your Books, Pay Your Taxes & Stay Out of Trouble (Small Time Operator) (9780917510281): Bernard B. Kamoroff: Books

I got the above (used) mostly to understand bookkeeping on a small scale.
It has paper bookkeeping forms that one can copy and use. I plan to start small and keep it simple and move to bookkeeping software when the time is right.
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Old 05-08-2010, 10:01 AM
 
Location: Northeast Florida
51 posts, read 72,708 times
Reputation: 36
HT, yeh there are a few Farmers markets around, most operate weekends (when I work at my regular job). I havent had any business cards made up, I will eventually. As far as a name, we didnt name the farm itself..not much of a farm at 1 acre lol..

we did name the business "Hooked on Ponix" I hated it at first but then my wife kept telling people and they really liked it. It's easy to remember because of the "Hooked on Phonics" commercials.

We took the Ponix part form Hydroponics, Then we figure that we could get people hooked on the stuff we sell they would be "hooked on ponix". I ended up having to change the spelling because as I was going to register the website name, as usual someone is squatting on the domain name for "Hooked on Ponics" they've owned it for years but it's just a page of ad's.

One other reason for the "Hooked" is that I'm also planning on getting into some Aquaponics- just like hydroponics but instead of adding synthetic fertilizer to the water, you use fish...fish waste feeds the plants and the plants clean the water, a whole little eco system where you can grow both fish and plants for food at the same time. anyway, the "Hooked" would also work there because of the fish.

so the name kinda grew on me.

I also sell eggs to friends but in Florida the laws are really stupid, pretty much anyone selling eggs commercial or backyard seller, has to have a state approved processing facility, it would cost me $50,000 just to meet the minimums. I only have 4 hens...it would take A LOT of egg sales to ever come close to breaking even. I think people at farmers markets label the eggs "for pet consumption only" in order to get around the state requirements.

Good luck with your plan too
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Old 05-08-2010, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Great State of Texas
86,068 posts, read 76,111,677 times
Reputation: 27635
Yeah bprunner..the ag laws are not in favor of the little guy.
Here in Texas I'd have to jump through expensive hoops to sell packaged meat at the Farmer's market (USDA and such) but I can sell 1/2 or 1/4 of a live cow and let them meet me at the custom butcher to pick up the meat. But I have no problem with the eggs.
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Old 05-08-2010, 07:14 PM
 
24,839 posts, read 33,910,882 times
Reputation: 11500
A good CPA....priceless!!!
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