How to Start a Compost Business?

by Curt
(Kansas City, MO)

I live in Kansas City, MO and I'm interested in starting a composting business using mainly food waste. I am currently looking into grant money, and any other types of funding through the government to see if there is money available. I have a possible business partner with a 40 acre lot available which the business could run on, although it's far from Kansas City. I am currently researching as much as I can to see what it would take to get up and running.


Does anyone have any advice?

Updated - Dec. 18-2011

We just released our first interview in our new Pearls from the Pile series. We are traveling across the globe asking compost producers for their advice on starting compost-related businesses. You're going to love this series. Check it out in our Interviews section.

Enjoy.

Compost Junkie Dave

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Dec 02, 2011
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Beginning a Successful Compost Business - Part 1 of 2
by: Compost Junkie Dave

Curt,

As I eluded to in our offline discussion, the following are some of the most important questions ALL potential business owners, not just those in the compost industry, MUST answer as they contemplate if a potential business is right for them.

What is Your WHY?


Why do you want to start a compost business?

This is both the most simplistic, yet extremely critical, question you must answer before charting into new territories, especially in the world of business. If you don't have a strong enough why, you're much more than likely falter as you encounter larger and larger obstacles along your entrepreneurial path. The world of business can be scary at times, but if you have a clear enough "why" with a strong enough passion backing it, you've got two of the key ingredients it takes to getting your compost business firmly rooted in the ground (pun intended).

Have you ever started a business before? If not, do know that most entrepreneurs fail several times before they "get it right." We sure did. But we must admit, during our first couple business ventures our WHY was not strong enough. But everything happens for a reason, and we're where we are right now because that's where we're meant to be.

What Makes Your Business Unique?


Pretend I'm a potential buyer...why the heck would I want to buy your compost? Chances are good that if you're just starting a compost business, your product prices will be higher than the compost your local municipality offers (if you haven't checked, most municipalities give their compost away for free), so why, when I can get free compost elsewhere, should I spend money on compost from you?

This question is all about product differentiation. What's going to separate your compost from the other suppliers in your area? Maybe you're lucky and the market hasn't been tapped in your area yet. If you think this is the case, please please PLEASE research it and find out for sure. Making assumptions at this early stage in the business' development is not wise. You want real numbers. That leads into our next question...

Continued response in Part 2 of 2 - see below.

Dec 02, 2011
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Successful Compost Business - Part 2 of 2
by: Compost Junkie Dave

...Continued from above

Where Will You Sell Your Compost?


Without a doubt, this is one of the most critical questions you must ask yourself before you invest energy elsewhere.

Who is your ideal client? Do these people REALLY exist, or did your mom think this whole idea of starting a "compost business" sounded good, so you extrapolated that to the general population? (I kid) With so many products on the market nowadays, who is going to buy your compost?

Some potential buyers include nurseries (both commercial and small-scale), garden centers, homeowners, farmers (especially urban farmers), greenhouses, golf courses, landscapers, and turf growers.

In order to know your potential market, you have to do your market research. As odd as it may sound, essentially, you want to find the buyers for your compost BEFORE you even begin producing a product. Once you have a buyer, you can justify to yourself and to your financing sources, that you're able to take this project to the next stage of development.

I can't repeat this enough - Do YOUR MARKET research before starting any business, including starting a compost business.

I will create a pdf in the near future with some sample questions to ask your potential compost buyers.

There is a lot more to starting a compost business than this, but these questions are enough to get the ball rolling. If you're willing to answer the above questions, you're positioning yourself for a very successful experience. We hope you'll take the time to answer them. If you do, please send them to us and we'll do everything in our power to help you succeed.

After reading this response and completing the questions, have you realized your real passion lies outside the compost industry? Do you still want to start a business? If so, you may want to consider building a business online. This link will show you the incredible business-building tool we're using to build Compost Junkie.

Dave
and The Compost Junkie Tribe

Feb 07, 2012
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Compost Business
by: Randy

Curt, I am in the same position that you are with the same interest. I live in East Texas with a never ending supply of chicken litter and I have approx. 2 dozen customers or so, that are waiting for me to get something going.

I have a lot of ideas about foliar feeding the compost tea in hay meadows to increase hay yields. There are a lot of dairies in our area that must do something to increase their crops after last year or they won't be in business next year. I would appreciate your input.

Thanks, Randy

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