My wife, Rachael, started her floral career as a high school student working in the floral section of a grocery store. Over the years, she worked her way up and was soon the lead designer at a shop when ownership changed. Her shop was sold to new under-prepared management who thought owning a flower shop would be a breeze. So we started our St. Louis wedding florals company, Twisted Willow Design.
Over the years, we learned that one of the biggest keys to being a successful floral designer and running a thriving business is staying educated. Sometimes that means investing a little bit of money to take a class but it's absolutely worth it. Here are three reasons why you should invest in continuing education.
1) Become an industry expert. Maybe you were born with a bouquet of roses in your hand and an incredible eye for design and some would say you were simply destined for floral greatness from the beginning. Unfortunately, raw talent isn't enough in the age of ever changing florist marketing techniques with Pinterest brides who continuously will challenge your skills and take you to your wit's end. You must prioritize your personal growth in all aspects of your business--from learning the latest trends for floral design to developing the best floral marketing practices to knowing how to price your florals and how to successfully onboard new team members. Your goal should not simply be to gain enough knowledge to get through another month or year of running your business, but to become your local industry expert who can successfully wield the information you've learned to your advantage and even help mentor others as they start their own floral business.
By intentionally focusing on learning and implementing the best practices in the industry, you not only gain confidence in yourself and a competitive edge by being able to develop designs for clients that others would not have in their repertoire, but you will be able to leverage the trust and respect you have in the floral community to gain the same level of trust and respect from prospective clients.
2) Continuing education classes are a great business expense for your taxes! If cost is deterring you from taking an educational class, just remember that it can be written off on your taxes. This is far from a selling point, but it is good to note that you'll actually be paying less than full price because you're reinvesting it into your business - even if you enjoy it! If Rachael took her team for an intensive week of design training in Maui or signed up for one of Sarah Campbell's Design or Business Intensive classes and even threw in a reservation for her Mentoring Dinner while she was there, the entire cost of the trip and class would be a valid business expense to deduct on her taxes.
3) Improve your network. It's all too easy to see other florists purely as your competitors and avoid connecting with them like the plague. But the truth is that your fellow florists are the ones who understand your random love of floral wire and deep appreciation of February 15th. They are the ones who will help support you when you're ready to pull your hair out because one client asked for fifteen rounds of edits to their proposal only to go back to the first version.
Not only is having a strong network crucial to your continuing growth as you learn various tips and tricks from your floral friends, but knowing the strengths of other florists in your area can help you recommend potential clients accordingly when they aren't a great fit for you or you're all booked for the weekend, which will undoubtedly lead to them do the same when they're in a similar situation.
If you already have a solid floral network in your local area, aim to expand it by attending a continuing education class that calls for a bit of a trip and set a goal to meet florists from a completely different background than your own. Having that connection will help to inspire you and stretch you in ways you never imagined PLUS they may be more willing to share some of their best practices that others in your immediate area wouldn't because they still see you as competition.
4) Continuing education classes for florists are fun! Yes, I know this was only supposed to be a list of three reasons, but this one is absolutely worth mentioning as a bonus. There are so many industries where "continuing education" is code for an intensive time of sitting at a table taking notes and being tested on what you already know, but the floral industry isn't one of them. Some of the most engaging trainings we've seen is the Intrigue Tour with Sarah Campbell. Sarah's currently touring all 50 states on a mission to help build community and bring success to her flower friends, including those who are connected to Stemcounter!
NOTE: Many tour stops are sold out already and space is running out in Las Vegas, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Kansas City. If you'd like to register for these sessions, be sure to sign up immediately upon receiving your coupon code!