Before my wife, Rachael, and I started our wedding florals company, she was a year into being the lead designer at a shop when ownership changed. She would come home in tears after dealing with 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, with only Rachael’s floral skills, my business skills, and our house.
We learned a LOT by becoming floralpreneurs. Some of those lessons came from our successes and many more came from our shortcomings. Over the next few weeks we're going to take an honest look at how we started and grew our floral shop. Here are the 9 things you'll want to decide when starting a floral company:
At some point, you have to make the choice: are you going to do this or not? My wife and I had to make the choice based on a few key elements. Everyone's decision will have different specifics, but the key elements are the same. If you've yet to make the decision to do this thing, the rest of this post is just extra curricular reading.
We chose to focus on weddings and events because we love to see how our work comes together with that of other vendors to make a fantastic event that brings smiles to the faces of a happy couple, their friends, and their families. While your focus may not be weddings and events, you need to have a clear purpose that drives you and your business.
We really believe it's easy to start in weddings and events with little graphic branding. At the same time, you do need to develop a recognizable name and logo. Intense research, extensive brainstorming sessions, and a decent designer will go a long way in developing your brand and social media strategy.
Websites and wedding shows and style shoots, oh my! There are so many ways to get the word out about your business but what methods are really most effective in gaining leads? When you're starting a company, knowing the right way to market is huge. Be careful buying into the "we did zero marketing" Shark Tank line. You do need marketing!
This is an area where we have quite a bit of experience. Not because we're great but because we created Stemcounter and have chatted with thousands of florists about how they price. There are many things to consider in setting your fees, including how you should mark up your flowers, hardgoods, labor, and delivery AND what your style is--do you stem count up front or before you order flowers?
Leads And Wedding Consultations
You have to have a consistent inflow of leads. So let's say you've done an excellent job at marketing and now have a few leads. How do you get them from being a lead to being a client? There are so many things to consider. Where should you meet them for a consultation? If you're working out of your home, do you want them to know where you live? What do you do during a consultation anyway? How far in advance should you book a client? What do you do with those Pinterest brides with intimate budgets and caviar dreams? And what contract should you use to legally turn your lead into a client? Actually, we can help you get started with that now!
When we first started, we worked out of our basement and we didn't even have a cooler for our first few events! How do you make the most of limited space and resources to help make a client's dreams for their big day come true? This is a super important step you've got to decide when starting a company.
It's time to take all the hard work you've done and execute your event. How should your space be set up? How and when should you order your flowers from a wholesaler or local provider? What if you don't have any help? How do you transport the flowers to the event? There are ten million things to think of during an event week so having a realistic idea of what successful execution of an event will look like in advance of the event will help you get through it without any major headaches.
Setting Up the Business
An important part of starting a business is just that: actually starting the business! Now that you're a professional florist, you need to think about the technicalities of your business. Should you set it up as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation? What should your business plan look like? Should you plan to buy a bunch of hardgood items in advance or build your collection of design and rental items as you go? And how should you measure success anyway?
In truth, all the lessons we'll share with you throughout this series can be summed up by our philosophy of starting a company: Start from scratch. No debt. Maximize all your skills. Build KPIs. We hope that these articles will help your business blossom and grow.
Looking forward to the weeks ahead!