How to become a successful florist Blog Post 6 April 2021

How To Become A Successful Florist

How will you consider yourself a successful florist? Having a fancy shop front? Doing hundreds of weddings? Landing all the funeral work?

It’s so easy in our industry to assume “success” needs to look a certain way.

But let’s get back to the real facts. Opening a flower business is easy.

Jump on Instagram and throw up a few beautiful pictures. Maybe one day you’ll get around to building a website.

From the outside to a new floral designer it all looks so effortless, doesn’t it? It’s all about filling your Instagram feed with stunning, unique designs and then the customers will just come calling. Right?

Except, it’s not that at all.

So many florists get sucked in by the beauty of it all. And with no one out there talking about the realities of building a business and sharing the ins and outs of actually making money, it’s easy to see why so many florists are focused on all the wrong things.

What Doesn’t Matter When It Comes To Becoming A Successful Florist?

If I was to create a list of the things I thought mattered… that list would be so long. But I’ll save you from that terrany and tell you three things that really don’t matter.

  1. Your Instagram follower count.

    Don’t assume that more followers equal more money. IN many cases, it doesn’t. Our industry is different. Our customers shop differently. They aren’t going to follow you and then one day be inspired to buy from you. Nope. That’s not how it works.

  2. Being the best designer.

    I used to believe that being the best designer was all that mattered. I tried using the cool ingredients and trying to keep up with the famous florists, but it was exhausting. And I realised it wasn’t really my vibe. In fact, my design skills were secondary to my sales skills. Sharing my expertise and input with my clients is what mattered the most.

  3. Having a shop front.

    In today’s digital world, a shop front is becoming less and less important. Yes, it can be a great work environment and a wonderful way to connect with customers. But it’s not the end all be all of building a successful flower business. In fact, I know dozens of designers who run beautiful businesses from their garage.

How To Become A Successful Florist

If I could back and rewind the clock, there three things I would focus all my time and energy on.

  1. Learning as much about marketing as possible.

    At the end of the day, business is business – it doesn’t matter if we’re starting a scrapbooking company or a flower business. We need to learn that marketing is how you build a business.
    That’s precisely why I’ve set up my Flower Boss Bootcamp. Check it out here.

  2. Get clear on the kind of work I want to be creating.

    There is no such thing as an experience ladder in our industry, no need to “earn your stripes”. When we run a business, we’re in charge. That means we get to decide the kind of work we offer the world, the kind of aesthetic we offer, and the kinds of ingredients we want to offer. It’s entirely up to us.

  3. Uncover my mindset blocks.

    Being human is challenging. Our brain is programmed to keep us safe and wants us to stay warm and cozy in our case. That means it’s going to throw up a lot of stories that will hold us back from taking massive action, from doing things to move our business forward. Of course, we’re never taught how the human brain works, and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll walk around for years wondering what’s wrong with you and asking yourself how everyone else has figured it out. Turns out, learning how the human brain works and shining a light on our limiting beliefs is some of the most important work we can do (as business owners and humans).

That third reason is something I learned really late in the game. But it’s why I’m so passionate about teaching floral designers everything I know.

In fact, I’ve dedicated an entire podcast episode to the topic of failure – uncovering what we make it mean and learning to re-frame our own perspective on failure. You can find it on Spotify here or listen on the player below.

At the end of the day, your success is built on a pile of failures. But so many business owners hold back because of their fear of failure. If that’s you, definitely jump in and check out this week’s episode.

Need Help?

I know building a business can feel super overwhelming. I’ve been there. I’m here to help. Check out my Flower Boss Bootcamp. I created this one-of-a-kind program specifically to help floral designers, just like you, master the business of flowers. I’d love to see you there!

💖

Kathleen

wedding flower pricing formula

Bouquet Pricing – Cheatsheet For Florists

FREEBIE – downloadable PDF. You can get direct access to it HERE.

I’ll show you, step by step, how we price our bridal bouquets and give you the line item worksheet so you can create your own equation for yours.

Definitely work downloading the worksheet first but if you think you can handle math in your head, feel free to simply follow along with a pen and piece of paper (and maybe a glass of wine or five).

Would love to hear from you guys if you do the math for yourself – or if you have any questions send through through here.

Post a photo to instagram and tag @littlebirdbloom I would love to see where you’re tuning in from 🙂

xx

Kathleen

PS – Don’t forget to download your PDF of the Bridal Bouquet Pricing Cheat Sheet HERE

blog post little bird bloom motivation flowers and business

What motivates you at work?

When I was 18, I landed my first internship at one of Canada’s top advertising agencies. I spent that summer taking notes in meetings, photocopying, mounting creative for presentations, planning the summer party.

You know, all the glamorous, highly skilled jobs 🙂

I will never forget though, my boss sat me down early on and gave me one of the single best pieces of advice I have ever heard: focus on finding ways to make yourself indispensable to the people that matter.

Whether you are an employee at a business, a freelancer, dealing with customers or building a new client relationship, this piece of advice still stands today.

It’s also how you work your way up through the corporate ladder faster than most, from being an intern to being a director in less than five years.

Advertising is a cut throat industry. You can loose a piece of business fairly quickly and the mid level staff are often the first to go. But I know I survived so much upheaval simply by making myself indispensable.

This piece of advice came back to me the other day while I was obsessing over one of my latest mentors – Brooke Castillo of the Life Coach School.

In one of her recent podcast episodes she was talking specifically about being a good employee, what motivates you and why it matters. I have probably gone back now and listened to it half a dozen times. She is a brilliant teacher and there are so many juicy nuggets scattered throughout.

The single biggest take away for me though is regardless of your current job or the situation you’re in – whether you love what you do or are using it as a stepping stone to something better – being a good employee is about doing your job FOR YOURSELF.

It’s not about showing up for a pay check or showing up because someone else asked you to.

You don’t do it for the accolades. You don’t do it for your boss.

You show up for yourself. To demonstrate to yourself what you are capable of.

You commit yourself to doing the best job YOU can for yourself.

It doesn’t matter if you’re serving coffee, driving an Uber, or doing a floral installation. Make it your mission to do the best job anyone has ever done in that job. Be intentional. Be purposeful. Because you respect yourself and you deserve it.

You show up, you demonstrate to YOURSELF what you are capable of.

At the end of the day, when you lay your held on the pillow, you need to know you f$%kn’ slayed it.  You did the best you could.

Even as the boss lady in charge, I show up and there is no half-assing it.

When you’re one of the ones in charge, yes, you could sit back, put your feet up and drink tea all day. But that’s not me. That’s not the way my brain operates.

I show up for myself, so I can demonstrate TO MYSELF what is possible. Because I respect myself and I want to continue to treat myself that way.

And I know, when I put my head on the pillow at the end of the day, I did the best I could on the day.

I did indeed, slay it.

managing your cash flow florist flower business

Top 5 Tips for Managing Your Cash Flow

I know, I know. Money is not everyone’s favourite subject. In fact I can see you rolling your eyes now. Your palms are sweaty. Your heart is beating a little bit faster. Squeeeeee……

But believe me, in the early days of setting up your small business, getting a few basics covered off will prove invaluable!

So, here are my top 5 tips for managing your cash flow in the early days of your business:

  1. Set up a bank account that is solely, and only, dedicated to holding the cash you have for your business. I think ING is the best option – there’s no fancy fees and you get the $2 admin charge back when you take money out of any ATM in Australia (*this does assume you deposit more than $1000 per month into the account).
    • for all of our UK, NZ and Canadian followers, there is bound to be a similar bank account / low fee / no fee structure – do a little Google search and see what pops up
  2. When you get paid by your clients, or you weekly shop revenue is deposited into your account, be sure to set aside up to 25% to account for income tax. I know, at the beginning this is a lot of money but if you can get into the habit of doing this now, you will be forever grateful when you’re earning $120,000 a year. Income tax isn’t payable until you are earning a specific amount and it varies depending on your income tax ‘bracket’ but you can check out those details here. The best way to coordinate this is to have a second ‘savings’ bank account that you transfer the money into. It’s best to pretend this money isn’t there until after your annual tax return is done. Just don’t touch it. Ever. When your tax return is complete and there is extra $$$ sitting in there from the previous year’s income, then you can go buy yourself something pretty, go on a little weekend getaway or buy a fancy bottle of wine.
  3. Register for GST. In Australia, business don’t need to pay GST until they are earning $75,000 but in my mind, I’d suggest setting up good cash flow practices from the beginning. Do it now and set yourself up for success before the tax office comes calling asking for previously-owed GST once you pass that $75,000 mark.
  4. Registering for GST means you need to allocate additional money to your ‘tax’ savings. So get in the habit of setting aside another 5-10% to account for the GST you will owe the government (at the end of the year or each quarter). The amount you owe the government will vary from quarter to quarter as it depends on how much business stuff you buy and how much business you bill. In it’s simplest form though the maths is as follows: (a) when you buy a business thing you pay GST on that (b) when you charge a client for a thing, you charge GST on that. The difference between (b) and (a) is what you will need to pay the government. Start doing this now so that when you’re making the big bucks you’re already in the habit of pro-actively planning for it.
  5. When you feel like your bookkeeping has turned into a weekly burden, link your business bank account to your online accounting software. For the first few years of my business I was just using an excel spreadsheet – and that worked just fine for me and my accountant. And then things got busy.  I use Xero but I know others use Quickbooks, MYOB and Freshbooks. The reason I have them linked now is that every time I spend $$ from our business bank account a new line item (technically called a journal entry) is created in Xero. Once a week I then reconcile each entry against my receipts and assign them to various pools of money (cost of goods sold, travel, insurance, motor vehicle expenses etc.). This saves me and my accountant a massive headache at the end of each quarter / end of the year.

If you can get into the habit of doing these five things from the early stages of your business you will be in such a better place when your business income grows year upon year. Set yourself up for success now and you’ll save yourself so much pain in the future.

 

xx

5 things florists need to know before they begin

Top five things I wish I knew when we first started our business

When we started our flower business, I am actually glad we didn’t really know what we were getting into. I know, it sounds a little odd, but if someone had sat me down and said “here is everything you’ll need to know to set up a successful flower business” it would have been so incredibly overwhelming.

It’s been four and a half years and there is so much I want to share. Today, I’m inspired to reflect on my most important observations.

My Top Five Things I wish I Knew When we First Started Our Business

  1. Say Yes Until You Need To Say No – when we started, we took on every opportunity that came our way. Every wedding enquiry, every styled shoot, every flower order. It may sound completely absurd but by taking on every opportunity we quickly gained experience. I was able to play with so many different kinds of flowers and foliage, learning what varieties I am drawn to and which ones I’m not really a fan of. I was able to understand how certain flowers and foliages behave together and how to create a certain effect. It gave me the opportunity to explore and discover my own point of view on floristry and what my heart is drawn to.
  2. Understand Your Costs – I know, everyone hates talking about it but I’m not doing this as a hobby or to simply ‘play with flowers everyday’. Just like going to our old 9-5, this is a job. We need to pay for groceries, rent, and maybe a new pair of shoes every now and again. It’s important to build a sustainable business or it’ll be back to the old 9-5 and working for someone else. Understanding how and where you make money in floristry is incredibly complicated and every week I’m tempted to spend a little too much on beautiful product at the wholesalers. That’s why pricing for profit has been a game changer for us.
  3. There is no one ‘right’ way – when I finished my formal training and certification I thought I knew it all. But I quickly realised there are so many things we were not taught at flower school. How do you create a large-scale installation with impact, but without spending thousands on flowers? How do you transport finished bridal bouquets? How the heck do you price a chuppah design? With every challenge that came up, Sloan and I would talk it through and come up with what we thought was the best solution. And many of those things have stuck with us. Others have evolved into better, simpler solutions. The bottom line is that there truly is no one right way to do anything in floristry. Some approaches are better than others but be reassured that your solution may be perfectly fine.
  4.  Keep learning – I crave learning and enjoy discovering how other florists operate. I’ve invested a lot to attend workshops with other top floral designers, both here in Australia and overseas. It’s been absolutely worth the investment and hope I’m able to do this for many years to come. If I could do it all over again, I would have signed up to freelance with anyone who would have me. Being able to shadow others and learn the practical aspects of how they approach a job is invaluable. You’ll learn something every time out and working with people who are seasoned veterans in this business is a remarkable experience. And don’t just stick to the familiar names, be open to work with people who’s style may not immediately be appealing to you – you’ll learn just as much from them as you will from the florists who you do wish you could immediately emulate.
  5. You are you. Stay in your own lane –  I wish I could say this is something that I learned early and truly follow. But, like most people, it’s something I struggle with each and every day. It’s only been in the last few months that I have come to terms with, and started to enjoy, the fact that what I find appealing is different to what others find beautiful. Floristry is a creative endeavour. It is an art form and you are your own person with your own point of view. Cherish that. Find your own floral design “lane” and stay in it. Don’t simply try to copy someone else’s approach. But do spend time understanding their perspective and the elements of their designs you are attracted to. Adopt those pieces. Evolve your style but stay focused on you and what feels right to you.
  6. Product choice is everything – I know, I said top five, but I just can’t leave this one off the list. Beautiful designs come down to two things 1) understanding the mechanics of how to create a design and 2) selecting the right materials. One of my mentors told me that if you select beautiful flowers and throw them together you can never really go wrong. I whole-heartedly believe this to be true. Selecting the right ingredients is probably 80% of the job when it comes to creating a design. Spend time learning what flowers are in season when and which ones are your favourites. Create your own go-to flower combinations and understand the role of texture, colour and scale and you’ll be armed with the right tools to create beautiful designs.

xx

how to price flowers for profitability

Pricing for Profitability

I know, I know. Math is BORING. At least for most people this is an absolute truth of life. Me on the other hand? I once worked through a math textbook from start to finish in one week. For fun. No joke.

Flower peeps, I’ve got news for you. Math is a reality of floristry and we rely on it almost every day of the week. And when we understand how to do the math, we’re one step closer to running a profitable flower business.

Does your bank account reflect the amount of time and energy you’re spending on your business?

If it is, well done. Give yourself a giant pat on the back and keep on keepin’ on.

If it isn’t, don’t fret. We’re here to help you decipher the numbers and empower you take control of your worth.

But Kathleen, where do I even begin?

We hear you. Finances are intimidating and there is a weird vibe that seems to hang over us when we bring up the topic of profitability and handling money. We get a bit sweaty and our hands start trembling. A hush comes over the room. It’s awkward. 

Many of us feel shame when it comes to the topic of money. There is an assumption we should inherently know how to handle money. But how many of us were either (a) taught by an experienced, professional mentor about the ins and outs of money or (b) trained at school to understand budgets and money management?

Stop feeling ashamed and start paying attention. We’re here to show you what we’ve learned in establishing our own, successful flower brand.

Our top three tips

  1. Understand your expenses, as a business – Write down what it costs you to run your business at this moment in time. It’s important to gain a grasp on your real business expenses. Often there are dozens of incidental costs that add up to real money.
  2. Stop pricing emotionally – We’ve all been there. We are passionate about what we do, we care about our clients but we ‘feel bad’ because they have a limited budget so we take a hit to help them out. Stop it. Just stop it. Please.
  3. Understand your expenses, as a human – How much do you need to make in order to pay your bills? What are your dreams and aspirations, and how much do you need to cover the basic expenses of your own life?

Equations over emotions everyday.

Let’s start at the beginning, Step 1 Understand your Business Expenses.

There are dozens of items that can be considered basic costs of operating a business. Let’s start with the most straightforward ones – the things you pay for regardless of whether you have a wedding scheduled for this weekend or you have the weekend off. These are called fixed costs or fixed business expenses.

Here are a few examples of fixed business expenses:

  1. Light, Power, Heating, Air Conditioning costs
  2. Office Expenses, such as stationery, printers, ink, computer costs
  3. Motor Vehicle Costs – annual maintenance, insurance, repairs

NOTE: If you are just starting up, be sure to account for one-off costs such as legal / formation costs, website design fees, logo / branding design elements etc. Although these costs are not incurred on an annual basis, they can affect your annual budget and need to be accounted for when you are creating your initial annual operating budget.

As a first step towards pricing for profitability and sustainability, download a copy of our Business Expenses Workbook and we’ll walk you through how to calculate your annual fixed business expenses.

There are also business expenses that are specifically tied to this weekend’s wedding. These are referred to as variable costs or variable business expenses. These are often more complicated to calculate. 

Variable business expenses might include:

  1. The cost of the flowers (wholesale)
  2. Sundries or hard goods such as twine, wire, ribbon, floral foam, vases and packaging elements
  3. Transportation costs such as: (i) courier fees for the flower shipment, (ii) petrol to get you to the wholesalers, (iii) parking fees for the venue, or (iv) petrol to get you to and from the drop off points for delivery
  4. Labour, if you are hiring assistance to help execute various aspects of the wedding set-up
  5. Hire fees or rental costs, if you are hiring linen, candles, signage etc. from a separate company (this is only relevant if you are paying for these out of pocket, as opposed to the wedding planner, event management company or the bride & groom themselves coordinating hire)
  6. Bank fees and processing costs (for taking payment from the client)

I’ll talk more about variable costs in our next instalment.

xx

PS – don’t forget to grab my FREE step-by-step pricing guide. I give you my exact approach to pricing for profit.

 

 

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