getting a little side-action: starting a small business part I

It’s no secret that money is a pretty important part of our everyday lives.  Sure, it is not everything, but it certainly helps to make everything a little bit easier, a little bit more enjoyable.  

I happen to need more of it.

I recently accepted a pretty awesome position at TUB (Technische Universitat Berlin). However, due to my foreigner status, I can only work a certain number of days.  As such, I am taking matters into my own hands.  This spring/summer/fall I am going to selling plants, produce, 3 types of sauces and a small assortment of baked goods.   Like my blog, my business will be called The Sunshine Is Ours, but in German – Der Sonnenschein Gehoert Uns.  

The first step to starting any business is having a plan.  For this particular endeavor, it means knowing what I have, figuring out what I need and putting a price tag on everything.

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What I do have is lots of seeds and lots of wood.  Plus, a whole lot of determination.  Other than that, I need to buy or build everything (although some things are already built).

Things that are essential to my endeavor:

Seed Starting Trays

  • 4 seed starting trays @ 30 x 30cm/12 x 12” for use with ¾” blockers (max. 120 plants per tray); used for germination and standard crops.
  • 16 seed trays @ 30 x 25cm/12 x 10” for use with 2” blockers (max. 24 plants per tray); used for plants that require a long period of time to grow before finally being planted outdoors.
  • 6 seed trays @ 65 x 30cm/26 x 12” for use with 3 and 4” blockers; used for larger plants like perennials and tomatoes.

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A Light Source

I am using 8, 62 x 62cm Louvre lights (like office lights) that I got second hand from an auto repair shop for 5 Euros a pop.  I will have to calculate the cost of energy for their use. To save energy and keep costs reasonable, I will use a timer.  

2 Germination Towers with 4 Lamps

This task is proving to be quite difficult.  Luckily, I have some help from the ole’ ball and chain (haha…).  However, it is shaping up.  One tower is half built.  It is 2m/6.5’ tall.  The top shelf will be for germination.  The middle two shelves will be for middle sized plants and the bottom shelf will be for the tallest plants.  I will use chains to hold up the lights so that the height can be adjusted in accordance with plant growth.  

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A Seed Mix Appropriate for Soil Blocking

I still need to procure these components (like today).  I need compost, coconut coir (it is really hard to get peat here), vermiculite, rock powder and top soil.  I ordered a huge case of coconut coir last year, so it may be enough.  

Exact Cost Per Serving of Edibles

I am going to make vanilla extract, barbecue sauce and spice mixes for ranch dressing and tacos.  I will also make 1 batch of chocolate chip cookies, 1 plate of vegan brownies (tastes better than it sounds) and 1 loaf of banana bread.  My goal during my upcoming break is to calculate those costs.  The plant stuff is number one in my priority book right now.  I will also have to figure out costs for packaging.

A Place to Sell

I am going to focus on direct marketing, so I will probably end up selling at the Boximarkt on Saturdays.  I have a portable table which means my fees for selling should be in the 25 Euro department.  Not bad.

A Hygiene Certificate

To work with food items in Germany, you need a Rote Karte.  It more or less certifies that I know how to wash my hands and cover my mouth when sneezing.  It’s pretty advanced stuff, but I should be able to pass.

A Wagon

Carrying all of my stuff here and there is not really an option by hand.  I need a wagon.  I have been scouring the classifieds looking for one.  I am hoping that because there was something in the water for the last several years causing 90% of women of child-bearing age to pop a few kids out, it should not be a problem to find something second hand.

Just in Case

I am sure there are things that I am not thinking about, so I want to have a couple hundred Euros packed away in the event of emergency.  It just seems sensible.

That is about it for now.  I am heading on my way now to the recycling center with my suitcase hoping that they will fill it up with compost for me so that I can get my rear in gear and start checking more stuff off my list of “things to buy”.

Wish me luck and have a super day!

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5 thoughts on “getting a little side-action: starting a small business part I

  1. This is AWESOME! I’m so happy for you! Best of luck and I can’t wait to see how things develop. This is exactly the sort of thing I want to do (five years down the line when I actually have enough knowledge and experience to do it right, haha). As far as the towers go, do you grow the largest sized plants in those wooden boxes on the bottom row, or am I missing something?

    1. Thanks! You are not missing anything – that plant tower is just not finished so you don’t have all the information. I am still missing a few pieces. There will actually be 4 shelves per tower and then I will use chains to hang the lights and move them up and down according to the needs of the plants. I will do another post on this in a few days when I get things a bit more organized. I posted the picture of the unfinished tower just because I was so excited to have come so far.

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