Operational Business Management I (Horticulture)

Study operational business management at home to learn financial and marketing strategies of managing a horticultural business or enterprise.

Course CodeBHT326
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Learn to Plan for Economic and Marketing Success in a Horticultural Enterprise of any type

A study focussing on managing Economics, Planning and Marketing of operations in horticulture. Your ability to manage a business can make a huge difference to your success in horticulture. In this course, you will learn to the business side of horticulture, including how to plan and implement effective strategies for your business and/or services.

“Building on the first operational business module this course delves into the prominent legal aspects of the horticulture industry in terms of contract and employment law as well as sound financial practices. In addition, man management techniques designed to improve productivity are discussed. Ideal for anyone in a horticultural management position.” - Gavin Cole B.Sc., Psych.Cert., Cert.Garden Design, MACA, ACS Tutor.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. The Economic Environment
    • The world of economics
    • Scarcity
    • Opportunity costs
    • Goods
    • Definitions
    • Economic systems
    • Economic ownership
    • Performance criteria for an economy
    • Other economic performance indicators
    • Basic economic principles
    • Law of demand
    • Law of Substitution
    • Law of diminishing return
    • Law of diminished marginal utility
    • Competition
    • Sustainability
    • Total Quality Management
    • Strategic Planning
    • Creating a strategic plan
    • European economic union
    • European Central bank
    • Asia Pacific Economic Community
  2. External Influences on Horticultural Enterprise
    • Monopoly
    • Monopolistic Competition
    • Oligopoly
    • Perfect competition
    • International markets and tradeable commodities
    • Globalisation
    • Supply and demand
    • Market forces
    • Demand
    • Supply
    • Elasticity
    • Economics of scale
    • Cost structures
    • Liquidity
  3. Information Management for Horticulture
    • Scope and nature of office work
    • Functions of an office
    • Common jobs in an office: reception, clerical, secretarial, information processing
    • Departments within an organisation
    • Office processes
    • Data knowledge, strage and management
    • Filing systems
    • Classifying information
    • Hard copy
    • Filing procedure
    • Active and inactive records
    • Computer databases
    • Designing a filing system
    • Data protection
    • Financial records
    • Books needed in business
    • Different ways to approach bookkeeping
    • Steps in the bookkeeping process
    • Developing a record keeping and accounting system
    • Flow of information
    • Financial reports
    • Ledger
    • Journal
    • Source documents
    • Cash transactions
    • Credit transactions
    • Returns and allowances
    • Other business documents
    • Use of business documents
    • The cash book
    • Credit sales and credit purchases journal
    • The general journal
    • The ledger
    • A trial balance
    • Bank reconciliation
    • Petty cash
  4. Strategic Planning in Horticulture
    • Strategic planning
    • Documenting the strategy
    • Operational planning
    • Documenting an operational plan
    • Key components of a business plan
    • SWOT analysis
    • A planning procedure
    • Decisions
    • What to plan for
    • Finance
    • Structure for a Financial plan
    • Developing a budget
    • Structure for a marketing plan
    • Plan drawing
  5. Implementing Strategies
    • Implementing strategy
    • Benchmarking
    • Reviewing strategy and strategy management
    • Environmental audits
    • Key elements of EIA
    • Steps in an environmental assessment process
    • Study design
    • Baseline studies
    • Predicting impacts
    • Mitigation measures
    • Flora and fauna assessment
    • Open space management plan
    • Rehabilitation plan
  6. Developing a Business Plan
    • Business planning
    • Case study: nursery development plan
    • Sensitivity analysis
    • PBL project to formulate criteria required for the successful implementation of a business proposal to develop a business plan.
  7. Business Control Systems for Horticulture
    • Financial statements
    • The balance sheet
    • Classification in the balance sheet
    • Working capital
    • Profit and loss statement
    • Link between profit and balance sheet
    • Depreciation of assets
    • Analysis and interpretation of accounting reports
    • Analytical ratios
    • Ratio yardsticks
    • Profitability ratios
    • Operating efficiency ratios
    • Efficiency ratios and profitability
    • Liquidity ratios
    • Liquidity analysis and cash budgeting
    • Financial stability ratios
    • Gearing rate of return on investment
    • Limitations to ratio analysis
    • Risk
    • Risk analysis
    • Contingency planning
    • Business systems
    • Quality systems
    • Innovation management
    • PERT (Program evaluation and review)
    • CPA (Critical path analysis)
    • GNATT ChartsFastest and slowest completion times
    • Business expansion and sources of finance
    • Record keeping
  8. Evaluating Horticultural Marketing
    • Introduction
    • Market research
    • The marketing mix
    • Marketing planning
    • Services marketing
    • Customer service
    • Buying, selling and decision making
    • Different heuristics
    • Decision making process
    • Customer satisfaction
    • Goodwill
  9. Marketing Strategies for Horticulture
    • Target markets and market segmentation
    • Targeting strategies
    • Defining your target market
    • Determining market segmentation
    • Projecting the future
    • Positioning
    • Case study: The market for landscape contractors
    • The business portfolio

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain the economic environment in which horticultural business operates.
  • Appraise the impact of external influences.
  • Establish the type of information required for operations in both commercial businesses and service organisations.
  • Examine the process and analyse approaches to strategic planning.
  • Examine the process and analyse approaches to strategy formation and implementation.
  • Prepare a business plan.
  • Assess the importance of business control systems utilising IT integration into financial management; prepare, read and interpret annual statements, appreciate the importance of budgetary control.
  • Identify the benefits involved when preparing marketing plans; analyse organisational strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  • Formulate customer-orientated and realisable strategies for selected markets

Understanding supply and demand is a basis for success in horticulture

An understanding of the balance between supply and demand is of fundamental importance. In a free enterprise exchange economy, as with agricultural and horticultural produce, prices are usually determined by the interaction between supply and demand. Other product prices are also determined this way but they don't normally fluctuate to the same degree.

Market Forces

The interaction of supply and demand and how that shapes a market economy is commonly termed as the ‘market forces’.



Without demand, supply will stagnate hence marketing sets out to stimulate demand. If demand is not sustained, production must slow down with resultant unemployment and loss of profits both in production and in every aspect of the distributive system.

Factors determining demands are:

  • Consumer’s income.
  • Price of produce (or services).
  • Price of competing produce (or services).
  • Price of complementary produce (or services).
  • Season, weather conditions, consumer tastes, trends, or other such factors.

Price increases normally produce a change in demand. 

  • A lower price generally means a larger quantity consumed. If the price increases, then the demand usually decreases and a smaller quantity will be consumed .
  • As income increases, consumption generally increases, but the buyer may change his/her priorities ie. 10 percent increase in income generally means only 1-2 percent increase in food consumption. However there is a general trend that this increase will be demand for processed or convenience foods.

For food consumption to increase, the population must increase!

  • The price of competing/substitute goods may directly affect the demand of produce ie. an increase in price of competitive goods generally means the demand for other produce will increase eg. apples: pears are substitute goods. If the price of apples increases then the demand for pears may increase (if the pears are competitively priced).
  • The purchasing pattern of salad vegetables shows a good example of complementary produce. When lettuce is in demand, tomatoes and other salad vegetables will also increase in demand, and consequently price.


If supply shifts leftward up the demand curve, the price will increase and quantity decrease.

Interaction of Supply and Demand

Where the demand and supply curves intersect is where the quantity demanded by consumers equals the quantity supplied by producers. At any lower price, amount demanded exceeds amount supplied. At any higher price, amount supplied exceeds amount demanded.

Some Factors that Determine Supply

Supply can be interrupted due to diverse reasons and depending on the product; food products contend with weather, land availability, labour, pest and disease problems and so on.

Other factors may include:

  • Consumer attitudes - consumers expect a greater choice of quality products, value for money, safety and environmental issues are also becoming more of an issue ie. consumers awareness of ‘clean and green’ products ie. food safety concerns drives demand for safe food; environmental concerns drives demand for clean and green (environmentally sound and sustainable) products.
  • Consolidation of markets - for example fresh food sales are now dominated by a limited number of retail chains - in some markets this comprises more then 70% of sales.
  • Competition – global sourcing through open international markets; improved internal efficiency by large companies; improved relationships with suppliers leading to greater control over quality, price and availability to consumers.
  • Alliances – between large stake-holders are formed to meet ever-changing market requirements ie. in relation to quality assurance, international trade regulations, and traceability requirements. This also improves and increases co-operative strength and competitiveness through an integrated supply chain from the producer to the consumer.
  • Trade policies – introducing change to price and policy governing the sale of products by both domestic and foreign governments ie. restricting access to export markets or the introduction of subsidies to local producers etc.
  • Organisational responses - ie. if demand for pink grapefruit rises, suppliers respond by encouraging greater production output by existing producers or by new producers entering the market. A sudden subsequent fall in demand could then create an over-supply – impacting on either the price or the producer (ie. prices go up and/or producers leave the market). Understanding and predicting change in the market is a complex but necessary part of business operations.


There are many different types of horticulture-related businesses from those providing supplies to the industry to those doing the growing. Others may be involved in landscape construction or garden design. No matter what the business is, there are certain day-to-day operations which will required. Sometimes these operations are the same or similar, in other instances they may be quite different. Nevertheless, the key to good business management is how to run these daily operations optimally. On top of this, running a successful business involves planning ahead, evaluating risks and marketing.  This course provides students with insight into how to do all these things and more. 

People who may be interested in this course include those who are work in, or who hope to work in:   

Horticulture retail
Horticulture wholesale
Plant nurseries
Landscape businesses
Garden maintenance

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Dr. Lynette Morgan

Broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
John Mason

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.
Adriana Fraser

Over 30 years working in horticulture, as a gardener, propagator, landscape designer , teacher and consultant. Adriana has spent much of her life living on large properties, developing and maintaining her own gardens, and living a semi self sufficient li
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