Taking a hobby like gardening and turning it into a profitable small business is rewarding both financially and emotionally. While tomato plants grow pretty much on their own with enough sunlight, water and fertilizer, a business takes more planning. Even a small business like growing plants for profit benefits from an organized approach through a business plan. After the business plan is completed several critical questions will be answered and you'll be well on your way to success.
Determine the market and how you will reach it. Tomato plants may be marketed through gourmet grocery stores, farmer's markets and craft shows by becoming a vendor and exhibiting. Mail order is another option. Establishing a website is almost a necessity.
Consider the competition. Find out who else is selling tomato plants and how will your plants fill the market better. Plant nurseries and big box stores sell all sorts of veggies including tomato plants. Perhaps you could concentrate on heirloom varieties that aren't normally available. Another option is to sell a grouping of plants such as a variety of cherry tomatoes including grape, yellow pear and Sweet 100, for example. Another alternative is to sell organically grown tomato plants. Add in a booklet of tomato recipes or tips for growing tomatoes to differentiate your plants from the other sellers.
Obtain any required licensing. Check with your city and state to make sure you have a business license and resale license.
Set goals for how many plants you want to sell and the price points. Project your sales revenues, expenses and profits. Make adjustments in the projections if necessary so you can realistically reach a profit.
Track expenses of growing and selling tomatoes and the revenues separately from your personal expenses so you can accurately report it at tax time. It may be beneficial to set up your tomato plant business as its own entity and obtain a federal identification number.
Growing the Tomato Plants
Obtain the necessary equipment such as grow lights, shelving, potting soil and tomato seeds.
Decide where you will be growing the plants. A garage with appropriate lighting may be adequate if the weather doesn't get cold otherwise an indoor room will be required. A do-it-yourself greenhouse jump starts the season and allows you to offer your tomato plants before they're available elsewhere. A backyard garden area allows you to give the plants more time to grow and become bigger.
Plant more seeds than you think you'll need to make up for damage and plants that don't do well. Label the pots. Nearly all tomato plants look alike.