How to Run a Successful Flower Shop

How to Run a Successful Flower Shop – My #1 Secret for Making it Work

I've been spending some time looking back at the early days of my flowering career. As much as it makes me want to cringe and I'm embarrassed by a lot of what I was doing, I've found it really helpful to reflect on all the mistakes I've made and see just how far I've come – particularly when it comes to learning how to run a successful flower shop.

I am on a mission to share as many of my epic failures and lessons learned as possible, with the goal to help you move forward and progress faster. It's like we all get to learn from the mistakes I made and then you'll be 10 steps ahead. Isn't that fun?

When it comes to learning how to run a successful flower shop, the list of mistakes we made is long. There are so many things I wish I had known and so many 'a ha' moments to share.

Even now, in 2022, florists are operating on a lot of misinformation about how to make a flower shop work and I want to help simplify this process. I want to fill the void of information and make it easier for you to get real results (and make more money).

At the end of the day, there is a lot to think about when it comes to how to run a successful flower shop. There are all the logistics around operations, insurance and retail leases. Then all the technology, POS and systems. Plus staffing and shop fit-outs.

And that's all BEFORE you even have a customer calling or coming into the shop to even get into the flowering and fulfilment.

I've put together this blog post to help cut through the overwhelm and help you get focused on what matters most. Because your time is precious. Your energy is limited and I don't want you to waste money on sh*t that doesn't work.

My #1 Secret for Making it Work: How to Run a Successful Flower Shop

I wish someone had told me, way back when I became my own boss, that I get to decide what success looks like to me.

I spend five years chasing someone else's definition of success and it was awful. It's like mindlessly climbing Mount Everest and then getting to the top, only to wonder "WTF is this? This isn't what I wanted?"

So let me save you from all that toil and trouble and lay it out for you as simply as possible: when you make the decision to start a business, you are signing up for being the person in charge. The head honcho. The person who holds that sign says 'The buck stops here.'

Most of the time, it's a scary place to be. It's new and unfamiliar and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get it perfect.

But being a business owner and flower boss is also one of the most empowering experiences a human can have. (I share more of this on Instagram, so be sure to follow along.)

I believe being a business owner really teaches us, as human beings, how to truly LIVE into the fullness of the human experience. To feel all the feelings and work through so many of our fear-based, scarcity-driven limiting beliefs.

So, if you're at a loss on what to do in your business and what direction to go, one of the most helpful exercises you can do for yourself and your business is to get clear on what success means to you. And be super literal and specific in your definition.

If you look up the definition of 'successful' on the interwebs, you get this: accomplishing a desired aim or result.

So, with that definition in mind, what is YOUR desired aim or result? Remember, you get to decide for yourself what you want success to mean and you don't need to pay attention to what anyone else is telling you "you should do".

Maybe you're like so many many of the florists inside my Flower Boss Bootcamp who want to have a beautiful shop front with a collection of giftware, home decor and a cute little flowering space.

Or maybe you're navigating a totally different path and only want to do 4 weddings a year, all with big fat 6-figure budgets.

Or maybe you're somewhere in between.

At the end of the day, you get to decide. You are the CEO, the woman in charge and this is your business. You get to define the outcome for yourself. (And no, you don't need to 'work your way up' or 'start small'.)

Being In Charge is Awkward

Yep. There you go. I said it.

Being a leader, being a CEO, being a Flower Boss doesn't come naturally to most of us.

We're very comfortable having someone else tell us what to do. When we're kids, our parents are in charge. Then we go to school and have teachers, principals, professors leading the way. And then we get our first job and, as an employee, we are still following someone else's lead.

Then, we make the decision to start a business and we bring all of that 'not in charge experience into our own work and inevitably 'outsource' the "being in charge" authority to others.

This is particularly true when we're wondering how to run a successful flower shop. We really like to tell ourselves there is a "right" way and a "wrong" way.

So, on our hunt for answers (and when we lack confidence), we might give our customers or clients the power to tell us what to create. Or we might have team members and staff who push us around. (I've experienced both.)

Here's the thing though: it's not your fault. You are not broken. You are a human being running a business and for most of us, no one sat us down and told us how intense this experience feels. No one has told us that when you own the business you get to decide what is done, how things are done and where the business is going.

It's OK that it feels new and awkward. It's OK to feel overwhelmed and confused. There is a lot to sort through.

You can do this. You can do hard things, right?

Go Deeper: My Flower Boss Success Formula

At the end of the day, your success is 100% up to you. No one else is going to come along and do the work for you.

You don't need to wait for permission. You don't need more qualifications and you definitely don't need more Instagram followers.

But you do need to decide you want this and you will make it happen. And then get to work.

Friend, it's time to double down on YOU. To recognise how capable and smart you are. This flower dream of yours was planted in your heart for a reason. I feel it in my bones.

It's time to step up and share your love of flowers with the world.

And no, you don't need to figure it all out on your own. In this week's podcast episode, I'm sharing My Flower Boss Success Formula.

Yes. Quite literally, I'm giving you the formula for showing up with more confidence, more clarity and giving you the inside scoop on how to embrace the discomfort of being the boss of your business.

What you'll learn from this episode:

The real reason we play small, stay small and talk ourselves out of massive action

The #1 secret to being intentional, mastering your mindset and showing up with more confidence

My 4-part framework for feeling successful (even if you're new and just getting started)

The value of hitting 'reset' on your business and coming back to basics

Listen to the full episode here

 

Full Episode Transcript

Enjoy the Show?

Floral Design Recipe

How Much Do I Order From the Wholesalers? Learning How to Create a Floral Design Recipe

For the first three years of my flower business, I didn't know a floral design recipe was a thing.

I didn't know that my favourite florists all have formulas and create recipes for their work.

This wasn't something I heard another florist talk about and I definitely did not learn this concept in my formal qualifications.

I had even gone to a handful of fancy flower workshops and even there, no one talked about it.

Oi. I look back now and realise just how much frustration I could have saved myself if I had known a 'recipe' was a thing. It's my go-to system for figuring out how much to buy from the wholesalers.

In my opinion, a floral design recipe changes the game.

It's like going to the grocery store with a specific list of what to buy, rather than going in and thinking you'll just buy whatever looks good (hmmm...maybe that's how those Peanut MnMs keep ending up in my bag.)

What is a Floral Design Recipe Exactly?

In its simplest form, a floral design recipe is a list of ingredients and a set of instructions for making something.

Just like how you'd get a recipe to make nanna's chocolate chip cookies or dad's apple pie, we can do the same thing with flower arrangements.

In fact, you can create a recipe for anything and everything. Literally. Buttonholes, wrist corsages and flower crowns. $100 bouquets, $250 arrangements, and $500 gift baskets. Floral archways, ceremony features and bar decor.

HOT TIP: one of the best pieces of advice I received from my accountant was to actually start to outline a basic set of recipes for my team. This makes it so easy for someone else to come in and make a bouquet (to your design aesthetic and expectations). In the end, a basic set of floral design recipes ensures your staff and freelancers aren't just chucking together a buncha product, overstuffing the design and eating into your precious profitability.

How to Create A Floral Design Recipe

You can create a recipe off of something you've created in the past. But if you're anything like me and want to learn how to level up your design skills and love looking at other designers' work, here's what I do to create my recipes.

I actually learned this approach by thinking about what art students do, learning from the masters.

You know how when you go to a gallery or museum you might see a few art students there, sketching from the masters or practising a specific technique? Well, we can do exactly the same thing.

The best bit is, you don't even need to leave the comfort of your own home.

I first learned how to create a floral design recipe by looking at some of my most favourite designers. If you see a photo of something you want to create, all you need to do is work through a super simple three-step process:

  1. Identify the ingredients
  2. Count the stems
  3. Do the math

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to the mechanics and tools needed to create the work, so don't forget to include that in your list of ingredients required.

This 3-step system is the exact approach I used to help level up my pricing and my design aesthetic. (Need a reminder about pricing? Use this florist pricing worksheet.)

Going through this approach made me see that when I quote $180 for a bridal bouquet, but dream of making $350 bouquets...I gotta change the prices I'm throwing around for my clients.

I encourage you to work through this three-step approach with lots of different design inspiration – whatever kind of work you want to be making, use this three-step approach to create a simple set of floral design recipes. (Also, here's a YouTube video I've put together that shows you how to create a floral design recipe from one of my designs.)

This process of deconstructing someone else's design makes it easy to map out your prices and effortlessly quote on a new installation or bar feature.

Using floral design recipes also gives you the reassurance you have the budget to buy the ingredients you want to work with. It makes answering that question, "How much should I buy from the wholesaler?" way easier to answer.

Yes, creating recipes can feel tedious, but it's always worth the effort.

How Much Do I Order From the Wholesalers?

Yes, I do suggest, for every design you're creating, create a quick recipe. (If you're using a reference photo, you'll want to adjust the ingredients to suit the season and colour palette.)

Once you've mapped out your ingredients and stem counts, you can then work through the full list of what to order for your wholesalers.

HOT TIP: double-check your bunch counts and stem counts to maximise your product usage. Ordering that extra bundle of roses for just one more stem eats into your profitability so fast.

The first few times you create your recipes it's going to take you a long time. And you're not going to get it perfect. That's OK.

One of the best habits I created for myself was to make notes after every event. I made notes around what I would do differently next time and give myself specific guidance on what to change if I was to do it all over again.

So, with your last wholesale order, if you over-bought on Queen Anne's Lace or Gerlton Wax, make a note of how many bunches you'd order next time.

If you wished you had one more bundle of Quicksand Roses for that ceremony feature, plan for it. Update your recipe and subsequently increase your next quotes to allow for it.

Every time you go through this process, you'll learn something and can build up a whole library of knowledge and expertise. In the end, it only takes a handful of 'lessons learned' and personal reflections to make a world of difference.

For me, I found using floral design recipes is one of the best shortcuts to help you stay on budget with your wholesaler orders while also being able to create work you love.

You'll see a dramatic improvement in your wholesale orders, efficiency in production and the quality of your designs.

Let's Go Deeper: Building Relationships with Your Wholesalers + Growers

Navigating the ins and outs of relationships with wholesalers and growers is obviously an important part of the business. The quality of the product we receive, the ins and outs of ordering and building quality relationships can literally make or break your floral designs.
And yes, it's a super intimidating part of the process. On a previous podcast episode, I did a deep into all things Relationships, Wholesalers + Growers, passing along some of my favourite tips + tricks to help you build better relationships, faster.

What you'll learn from this episode

✓ How to think about your relationships with growers + wholesalers
✓ Why these relationships are so important to your business
✓ Common mistakes most florists make when it comes to wholesaler relationships
✓ Five tips to help build better relationships

Listen to the full episode here

Enjoy the show?

 

Full episode transcript

FLOWER BUSINESS

Flower Business Success

Are You Struggling To Make Money In Your Flower Business?

I’ve got great news – if you answered yes to this question, you’re in exactly the right place.  Yep. You’ve been searching high and low for guidance and support, wanting to learn exactly how to make money in your flower business.

Yep. That was me too. I know first-hand just how secretive this industry is. Everybody loves sharing photos of their finished designs and beautiful work but no one wants to talk about how they actually made it happen.

When I first started my flower business, I searched high and low for support. I signed up for so many workshops and design courses assuming that’s what mattered. I assumed being the best designer was how you built a successful design business.

Turns out, I was wrong.

Of course, when you sign up for a floristry course, you’ll learn about mechanics, colour theory and the principles of design. But none of that matters if you’re not gettin’ any customers.

There are so few places floral designers can turn to understand how they landed that client, navigated that enquiry and sealed the deal.

At the end of the day, that’s the stuff that truly matters, the stuff that will help you make money in your florist business.

Today, I am on a mission to transform this industry, to teach floral designers about the business of flowers.

Fast track your success – get access to my FREE Ultimate Guide to Making Money in Your Flower Business.

How To Grow Your Floral Business

When you decide to start a flower business, it’s important to remember it’s a business. As in a for-profit, money-making entity.

Making money is the point of your flower business.

I often see floral designer after floral designer after floral designer falls into the same trap I did. We assume that a flower business falls into a different category than any other business. 

That different rules apply to us. We believe we need to make sacrifices to build our portfolio and grow our following. 

Because this industry is so secretive, with nothing else to go on, we think investing in fancy styled shoots, having lots of Instagram followers and having our work published is what is going to help make us money.

I want to question those assumptions, to interrogate whether that’s going to get you the results you want in our business. Are those assumptions helping you make progress and move in the direction you want to go?

Need help? Check out this podcast episode: Thrive Podcast Episode #171 – The Finish Line

Floral Design + Marketing

Yes, floral design is a creative endeavour, but that doesn't mean it doesn't follow the same business principles as every other industry on the planet.

Telling ourselves otherwise is a lie. And it's so unhelpful for you as a business owner. 

Hands down, it's the biggest reason so many florists don't make it; they struggle for years to turn a profit and barely make enough to cover the bills. Personal income...what’s that?

This one storyline undermines all our efforts and very quickly gets in the way of anyone trying to transition a florist business from side hustle to a full-time florist.

In the end, it turns into a really expensive and heart-breaking hobby.

Like graphic design, copywriting, website design, your flower business is still a business – it's a business that happens to sell a creative service.

So, learning about business is how you grow your flower business. You don’t need to be the world’s most famous floral designer. You just need to be a smarter business owner.

Marketing Strategy For Your Flower Business

At the end of the day, marketing is all that matters when it comes to making money in your flower business.

I’ve learned first hand, you can be an average designer and make a lot of money in your florist business. It all comes down to understanding marketing strategy and business.

Marketing our florist business services can be super simple. The equation goes something like (1) we sort through where our clients are actively seeking out our services (2) tell them we can help them and (3) make it easy for them to buy from us. 

Of course, simple doesn’t mean easy. Particularly in today’s online marketing world.

The secret to success in your florist business? Remembering that the majority of your customers are going to find you online. 

A Shop Or Studio Space Doesn't Guarantee Success

Gone are the days of assuming a physical shop will help you attract customers. Today, the decision of having a physical shop front is less a marketing consideration and more an operational consideration.

That’s right. Having a physical studio or shopfront is no longer a requirement for success in our industry. (That became crystal clear in the chaos of 2020 didn’t it?) 

To build a profitable flower business, you need to learn the principles of marketing as it relates to the online shopping experience….regardless of whether you have a shop space or not.

Today, the success of your flower business is directly related to your appetite for learning online marketing strategies. Things like: how to set up your website, navigating the Google game + SEO, learning about hashtags and how to elevate your Instagram feed.

Building a successful flower business isn’t a design competition. It’s a marketing strategy competition. 

Online Flower Business Basics

Your website is your single most important marketing + sales tool. Hands down, it can make or break the success of your flower business. You can have a hugely successful florist business and have no physical retail space to speak of.

Yep. You read that right. 

Heck, even if you do have a physical studio space or shop, if you want to create a profitable florist business, having the right online flower business presence is mandatory. In today’s world, it’s the only way our small businesses have a fighting chance.

Of course, learning the ins and digital marketing is overwhelming. It’s so easy to get sucked into posting a few pretty pictures and assume that’s all that matters. (Check the box, done for another day!)

Turns out, just having a pretty website isn’t enough. We need to sort through the complexities of delivery date pickers, variable delivery and custom card messages. And that’s just the beginning. 

But, what’s the point in having a pretty website if no one can find it?

So your work doesn’t stop at your website and checkout forms. When you get that first pile or tech sorted, you get to shift your focus to learning about the Google game and SEO (Need some SEO help? Check out this super helpful YouTube video on SEO – SEO for Florists: A Beginners Guide). 

Think you’re done after that? Nope. No ma’am. 

From there, you need to dive into learning how to use Instagram and stay up to date with the constant changes to the features and make the most of the right pieces of the Mark Zuckerburg puzzle to effortlessly attract higher-value customers and land our dream clients.

As an aside, I am a person who used to hate Instagram. Hate. With a capital H. Until I learned that we get to play a totally different Instagram game. 

Yep, everything you assumed about how to show up on Instagram is a lie – we don’t need to worry about engagement or chase after followers or even worry about getting published.

Don't Give Up. Ask For Help Instead.

Of course, sorting out all things flowers + business is a lot. It’s why so many floral design businesses don’t make it past the five-year mark. In fact, more than 50% of small businesses won’t make it past year five. They throw in the towel too early. 

Why do most new businesses fail so early? Forbes.com posted an article a few years back sharing the eight reasons why small businesses fail.

At the end of the day, your florist business requires you to learn about business and marketing strategy. And in today’s world, 99% of what you gotta learn is online flower business marketing.

If you’re anything like me, when you fell in love with floral design, you didn’t dream you’d be spending your days sorting out SEO, Instagram hashtags and online catalogues, did you?

The Flower Coach For Ambitious Designers

There are so many places we can turn to for floristry guidance – we can sign up for online courses, go to workshops (check out our Byron workshop experience here) or go to formal training as a traditional floral design school.

But there’s nowhere to turn to when it comes to learning about the business of flowers. Until now.

I work with florist business owners from around the world in my Flower Boss Bootcamp. It’s the only online program available to floral design business owners focused entirely on marketing, money and managing your mindset. Learn more here.

Business School For Floral Design

I’m here to make it easier for you to understand what really matters when it comes to making money in your florist business.

We’ve packaged up the essentials, giving you the exact roadmap you need to turn your passion for floristry into a viable successful online flower business. 

Check out my Flower Boss Bootcamp here.

If you’re ambitious and already know you have what it takes to make money in your flower business, but you’re frustrated you’re not making progress this program is for you.

If you feel like you’re spinning in circles and wasting your energy on all the wrong things, check out my flower coach program. 

Free Course To Help Your Flower Business

If your mission is to build a successful online flower business, learning the fundamentals of floristry isn’t enough. Yes, I am a huge advocate of learning the fundamentals of floristry and flower care. But if you want to learn how to attract customers and make money in your flower business, learning about marketing and having a sound marketing strategy is a must.

I know how hard it is to find information about business + flowers, which is why I’ve put together this super awesome free course for flower business owners.

FREE COURSE – Ultimate Guide to Making Money in Your Flower Business

At the end of the day, the success of your flower business isn’t contingent on your floristry skills; it’s contingent on your ability to learn marketing strategy.

As unsexy as that sounds, it’s how you make money in your online flower business. If you want to make more money in your florist business, you need to build your business acumen and understand the intricacies of marketing. 

You Are Not Alone

I spent the first five years of my florist business spinning in circles. I wasted so much time and energy, spinning in self-doubt and uncertainty.

For years, I walked around assuming it was just me, that I was the only one struggling to make money in my flower business. Turns out, I was wrong.

Turns out there are so many designers experiencing the same challenges I experienced. I’m here to help you. To be the flower coach and fairy godmother you’ve dreamed of…but didn’t know existed.

BLOG POST: CAN YOU BE A SELF TAUGHT FLORIST?

Can You Be a Self-Taught Florist?

If I wanted to make this the single shortest blog post on the planet, I’d be super direct and just say yes. But I do believe it’s worth diving a bit deeper and considering where the question, 'can you be a self-taught florist' arises from.

The reality is, floristry is not a regulated industry. No one is monitoring who is certified, what they studied, or where they studied. Nor is there an industry body demanding a standard level of flower knowledge or expertise. No, there is no administrative board to file formal documents with.

Heck, I’ve never had a customer ask what qualifications I have as a floral designer. 

So yeah, the result is that the barriers of entry are low for a designer who wants to start a business. You don’t have to be formally qualified or have a certain number of years of experience to start a flower business. You can just decide to start a business. Easy as that.

Which is both awesome and irritating, ain’t it?

What Does It Mean To Be a 'Self-Taught' Florist?

I’ve been reflecting on this a lot recently. I am a formally qualified floral designer. I set my foundation through my certification at Pearsons. But I didn’t stop there. 

I have studied with some of the world’s most popular designers, here in Australia as well as Canada and the United States. I’ve also spent hours upon hours upon hours practicing different mechanics, playing with different flowers and studying the designs of my most favourite florists.

Even with my qualifications, all the workshops and hours of self-study, I know I want to keep learning. I will keep experimenting and continually push my own creativity. Over the years, I’ve learned that process is part of every successful designer’s story. 

In essence, every single one of us is a ‘self-taught’ florist. 

Part of our design development requires us to take what we learned from our teachers and mentors, practice it, adapt it, change it and then make it our own. We put in hours of energy and effort to turn what we’ve learned into a work of art.

Every floral designer on the planet has different preferences. Every single one of us. 

We also encounter different availability challenges. We like to work with different colour guides and are drawn to different compositions and mechanics. It’s what makes this creative endeavour so incredible – if 10 different designers all walked into the same wholesaler, we would all walk out with 10 different recipes.

That’s why I truly believe there is room for everyone in our industry. And honestly, I don’t know if it matters where you went to school or who you studied with, if you’re creating work that you love and connects with your customers, that’s absolute magic. 

Keep Investing In Yourself

I am a true learning junkie. It’s one of my most favourite things to do – and it’s what’s allowed us to build our business as quickly as we did.

I am continually looking for new ideas, new inspiration and forever feeling pulled to test out new concepts.

Many times it doesn’t work. But it leads me to be even more creative and investigate even more ideas with a renewed frenzy. 

Still, to this day, I love going to floral design workshops and masterclasses. Learning from my industry peers is a pure pleasure and something I want to continue doing for many years to come. 

Study Online + In Person

I love being able to connect with my industry peers and I am constantly learning new shortcuts and helpful design tips from some amazingly successful designers. 

Plus, I also remind myself, I can take something I’ve learned from one designer, apply it to a specific situation I have, incorporate my mechanics and even come up with something even better than I’ve created in the past. In fact, that’s precisely how I created my unusual approach to creating wedding bouquets. This makes me realise that, by definition, I am a self-taught florist.

I think one of the best trends to arise in our industry is the plethora of online courses now available to floral designers. This has made it so easy for us to learn from our favourite designers – some even located on the other side of the world – without having to leave our own studio.

Continuing to grow and evolve my own aesthetic and design preferences is one of the many joys of being a business owner. When you run your own flower business, you get to be the Creative Director and define your own vibe and aesthetic. You get to use the mechanics that work best for you. And any time you wanna change your approach, you can.

In fact, this is the underlying principle I teach my students at my design retreats and workshops. If you’re keen to work with me and learn the ins and out of how I create our signature designs, grab a spot in my 2021 Byron Retreat.

We’ll be diving into the foam-free design as well as sharing the ins and out of photography. Space is limited to just nine people and this is my only workshop for 2021. Click here to learn more.

If you’ve never experienced a design retreat and want to build a bigger flower family, feel supported and showered with love, I highly recommend you do it. In fact, I’m so passionate about this concept that I’ve dedicated this week’s podcast episode to the topic.

Listen to the episode below (or click here).

Being a Flower Business Owner Requires More Than Just Design Know-How

At the end of the day, the single most important thing to remember when you start a flower business is that you are starting a business. As in a for-profit-problem-solving-marketing-machine. 

So many florists make the mistake of thinking starting a flower business is easy. It’s just a matter of throwing a few things up on Instagram and shazam, money walks in the door. But they completely overlook the idea that they’re starting a business.

People, I’m here to save you the heartache. To make sure you know exactly what it takes to make money in your flower business.

Better yet, you don’t need to go to some expensive business school or complete a marketing degree to run a successful flower business – I’m here to help. 

Regardless of whether you’re a self-taught designer or have years of formal training under your tool belt, if you’re on a mission to make more money in your flower business, check out my Flower Boss Bootcamp.

My Flower Boss Bootcamp is the only program available to floral designers, flower lovers and flower farmers focused entirely on the business of flowers. The program is run entirely online, so we can work together no matter where in the world you’re located.

Inside this program, I’ll teach you about branding and sales. I’ll give you access to my exact how-to guides when it comes to setting up your websites. I'll teach you how to effortlessly attract those dream customers.

We’ll focus on overcoming your limiting beliefs and get crystal clear on your vision for your business. If you’re dreaming of making more money in your flower business but feel like you’re stuck in reactionary mode, I’m here to help.

This program will change the trajectory of your flower business. I promise.

At the end of the day, flowers are fun. But so is making money.

Click here to learn more about working with me.

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