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  • A Quick Guide to Starting a Microgreens Business

    May 10, 2024 10 min read 0 Comments

    man filling a package of cut greens from tray

    Getting Started with a Microgreens Business

    Starting a microgreens business can be one of the best things you can do for yourself and your community. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and work for myself, but I wasn't sure how to even begin.

    After finding microgreens, I knew that starting this business and becoming a microgreens farmer was exactly what I was looking for! When I started my farm and business in 2016, I never imagined microgreens changing my life in the ways that it has. In this article, I’m going to give you my best advice on how to start a microgreens business.

    Learning about microgreens 

    The first thing you should do before thinking about starting a microgreens business is figure out if you like to grow. Starting a business will require time and energy, and if you don’t want to put that into growing your crops and time on your farm, farming is not the right industry for you.

    One key point I want to point out before jumping into this topic is that you can’t make this work if your only reason behind starting this business is money. This is drastically overlooked, and I’ve seen so many newcomers get so excited about this business opportunity strictly because of the big, shiny numbers.

    The money is definitely a part of why this business is so rewarding, but it should not be the only reason for diving into the world of microgreens. You MUST also have a passion or interest in health, farming, nature, helping your community, working with chefs, etc. Otherwise this business model is not for you. Growing a business is a massive undertaking; the financials alone will not keep you moving forward on the harder days. You need passion.

    With that out of the way, the first technical step is to practice growing. This is the true test of whether or not you want to start a microgreens business. Practice growing, get to know the crops, and dial in some of the ins and outs of growing. If you’ve been growing for a few weeks and are already frustrated, how will you feel in a year's time?

    Ensure you fully understand the commitment to starting a farm and running a microgreens business. Every business will take time and effort - make sure you are putting your time into something you will love in the long term.

    Donny Greens Standing near a tall rack of grown microgreens in 1020 trays

    Market Research for microgreens in your area

    Before diving into the microgreens world, conduct thorough market research. Identify the demand for microgreens in your local area.

    • Are there health-conscious consumers in the area?
    • Restaurants looking for fresh produce or to fancy up their plates?
    • Cocktail bars wanting to set their drinks apart?
    • Maybe some local farmers' markets are eager to embrace locally grown superfoods? 

    Figuring out your local demand and what the customers you want to service is an integral part of the equation. I believe that growing microgreens as a business can be done anywhere if you can improvise and create demand. After all, this is what business is all about; luckily, microgreens have inherent value in many different aspects.

    Competition Analysis

    Examine existing microgreens businesses to understand their pricing, offerings, and target market. Recognize gaps in the market that your business can fill, and find your unique selling proposition. Creating a new business doesn’t always mean you need to reinvent the wheel, but if your neighbor is growing and selling greens, make sure your business has something unique to offer.

    You want to stand out from the crowd while staying aligned with the market and local expectations. In addition to this, make sure your business model is aligned with the passions I discussed earlier. This will help drive you forward and solidify your reason for running the business outside of just money.

    Legal Considerations for Starting a Microgreens Business

    When creating any business, you need to check the local regulations first. Make sure you will avoid causing yourself stress in the long term by missing an important step or failing to meet any requirements. Some places may require specific licenses or insurance for operating a food-related business, so check with your town, state, or local agencies. 

    Obtain the necessary licenses and permits to ensure your microgreens venture complies with local laws. This step is crucial for a smooth and legal operation.

    I have vivid memories from when I first started my business in 2016, sitting in my parents’ glass room, making phone calls to all of these local government numbers while getting forwarded to the next one and the next one because no one really had answers for me. Luckily, there is a lot more awareness around microgreens, what they are, and the fact that people are growing them in all different sorts of ways. Nevertheless, be ready to make a ton of phone calls while getting redirected a few times until you have the answers you need.

    Start by getting in touch with your local department of agriculture. Once you know what they require, it will also be up to the vendors you will be working with. I also recommend getting “FLIP Insurance” (simply google that term), which is meant for small farms.

    Choosing a location for your Microgreens Venture

    The success of your microgreens business begins with the right growing space. Whether it's a greenhouse, spare bedroom, or basement with indoor growing racks or even an entire warehouse with hydroponic systems, choose a location that allows you to control environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and airflow.

    If you are growing in your house, ensure any pets, children, and guests don’t have free access to your growing space. Remember, we are growing food, so we need to maintain high standards for sanitation and safety.  

    This is also a great time to see if your space will need any renovations. For me, when moving into our new home and building out the basement farm (2022-2023), we knew the basement would need plumbing, electrical work, HVAC, and a good deep cleaning. We factored this into our costs and timeline to make sure we were staying on track and getting everything done the way we needed to run our farm.

    I recommend starting small and working your way up with the profits from the business; that way, you don’t get too ahead of yourself and end up in a bad situation.

    Business Plan

    Craft a detailed business plan outlining your goals, target market, marketing strategy, and financial projections. A well-thought-out business plan serves as your roadmap, helping you navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship. A business plan isn’t always necessary. Business majors will tell you it’s a major key, while self-made guys like myself might tell you something different.

    I definitely suggest writing down your goals and having a detailed plan for your business. Make sure you have that roadmap for yourself so you don’t feel lost, but remember - you are never locked into the original plan. Take it as it comes and pivot when needed!

    When I first started, I had learned that selling to chefs was the way to go. Well, I quickly realized that wasn’t the direction I wanted to take and pivoted my business to focus on the health market. I felt this was more aligned with my passions and that the true value of microgreens was greater when looking through this lens.

    These pivots can significantly affect your success and your happiness, so don’t be afraid to change it up. Most importantly, you start taking action in the first place. That direction can always sway.

    Financial Management

    Keeping your finances organized and managed is a crucial part of any business. Make sure you have a system set on how to organize your records, expenses, revenue, and profits. Consider investing in technology for efficient record-keeping. A sound financial management system is crucial for the long-term sustainability of your microgreens business. 

    I used an Excel spreadsheet initially, but this became a nightmare as the business grew and I needed an actual accounting software. I recommend using one from the start. I use QuickBooks, and the small monthly payment is well worth it.

    Make sure that you are paying attention to your spending, how much you are making, and how your taxes will look. Be sure to truly know your profit margins when it comes to your cost of goods sold, overheads, and labor. Keep your business systems tight and efficient to maximize your profits. You don’t want to be in a situation where you are surprised! Staying on top of your finances and staying organized are two of the most significant ways to stay in control of your business.

    automated grow rack

    Supplies and Equipment for growing microgreens

    It is crucial to invest in quality supplies and equipment. It might seem daunting to look at a bill immediately, but I promise it is better to buy high-quality pieces of equipment once than continue to purchase new products every time something breaks. Your primary startup equipment investments will include racks, lights, trays, and climate control like heat/AC, fans, and a dehumidifier.

    You will also need to invest in ongoing supplies like seeds, packaging/labels, and your growing medium. If growing indoors, consider investing in full-spectrum & efficient grow lights to keep your electricity cost down and best mimic the sun's rays. For trays, I only use Bootstrap Farmer trays. Shallow 10x20 trays with and without holes are the best trays to start with and are the ones I still use daily on my farm.

    Sourcing Seeds for growing microgreens

    Make sure to find reliable suppliers for top-notch microgreen seeds. Consider factors like organic and non-GMO options to appeal to health-conscious consumers. The quality of your seeds will directly impact the quality of your microgreens. I only grow with organic seeds for the integrity of my business and the quality of the greens I grow for my customers. Your greens start as seeds, so make sure you invest in quality seeds for growing microgreens!

    True Leaf Market is my typical go-to seed company, but you can do some simple research and experiment with seeds from several suppliers. When starting out, you will be purchasing in smaller quantities, and as you grow, you can start buying in larger quantities to get better rates. It’s also a good idea to ask the seed companies for their wholesale price sheets.

    Related: Top 10 Microgreens to Grow

    Growing Process

    Master the growing process, from seeding to germination and from growing to harvesting. Experiment with different varieties to offer a diverse product range that caters to various tastes and culinary preferences, but be sure not to overwhelm yourself with too many options. Each variety is going to require a different approach to growing, as well as marketing.

    Mastering your timing, seed density, water schedule, and more will be vital in growing the best greens. It takes time to figure out exactly what works and what doesn’t. At this point, you’ve been practicing growing, so you should be honing in on exactly what creates strong, delicious greens. If you need more help, check out this blog post all about growing microgreens.

    Quality Control

    Implement strict quality control measures to ensure consistency in the quality of your microgreens. Consistency builds customers’ trust and establishes your brand as a reliable source of premium microgreens. Don’t let dirt get in the packaging, and make sure you are confident in your growing abilities before taking on clients who will now rely on you. Be sure to harvest dry crops, as this is the most critical factor when it comes to shelf life and a high-quality product.

    Harvesting and Packaging

    Learn the art of harvesting microgreens at the right stage to ensure maximum flavor and nutritional content. Develop a packaging strategy that keeps your microgreens fresh and appealing to customers. I use a knife to harvest. Do not use scissors. Scissors will pinch your greens rather than slice through them. It's important to find the right stage of harvesting for optimum flavor and nutrition and the right timing for what your clients want.

    Distribution and Marketing

    Create a distribution plan to reach your target customers. Are you planning on doing local home deliveries, or are you working with restaurants? Will your customers pick up from you like a CSA or will you go to farmers markets? These are essential factors in creating your business because this will impact your schedules. Find what works best for you.  Partner with local restaurants, farmers' markets, and grocery stores and be consistent. Establish an online presence through social media platforms and have a well-designed website too.

    Next steps

    Donny Greens at his farmer's market booth with packages of microgreens for sale and live trays

    Customer Feedback

    Collect feedback from customers to continually improve your products and services. Having happy clients is the key to a successful business. Although the customer isn’t always right, listening to feedback and changing where you see fit is best practice.

    Engage with your audience through social media and other channels. An email newsletter or active social media is a great way to stay connected to your customers. A responsive and customer-centric approach will help you cultivate a community of loyal customers. Ask for feedback often and lead with your customers' best interests at heart.


    Building relationships is vital to a successful microgreens business—network with chefs, local businesses, and community members. Attend networking events and farmers' markets to promote your microgreens and establish a loyal customer base.

    Farmers' markets were one of the best places for me to network with future clients, both chefs, other farmers, and home delivery clients. Being face-to-face with the people in your community is an excellent way for your clients to build a personal connection with you and your business.

    Scaling Up

    As your microgreens business gains traction, consider scaling up production and expanding your product line. Explore opportunities for partnerships and collaborations that can elevate your business to new heights. Look into automating some of your processes or expanding your client lists.

    Don’t scale too quickly! You want to make sure your quality never falls. If you take on a distributor but can’t successfully manage that many more trays on your farm, you are creating a problem for yourself and may lose trust if something goes wrong or you cannot fulfill on your promises.

    Scaling is great but scale appropriately and at the right time. Scaling isn’t always necessary! Sometimes, a small farm is more than enough to help with your bills, impact your local community, and enjoy a fulfilled lifestyle as a farmer.

    You can start a microgreens business

    Embarking on a microgreens business journey requires dedication, knowledge, and patience. Starting a business can be the greatest joy, but don’t underestimate the amount of time and attention it does take. Now that you’ve made it to the end of this blog post, you are more prepared to navigate the challenges and begin the process of starting your own microgreens business.

    Learn from your mistakes, give yourself grace, but stay on top of your responsibilities. Don’t cut corners because, in the long run, you are only holding yourself back! You are ready to take on the challenges and savor the sweet taste of success in the flourishing world of microgreens, so get growing!

    Written by: Donny Greens