What do I need to open a flower shop? (The Legal Stuff)

Ryan ONeil | | 0 Comments

We've talked through a ton of the floral aspects of what you need to open a flower shop, but it's good to note some legal aspects of things. First, here is our enthralling disclaimer:

You should always consult your local accountant and legal guidance instead of trusting a blog on the internet.

While we post here shouldn't be consider legal or financial advice, we do hope to give you a listing of topics to discuss with your advisers. Our software is the largest international event floral software and we have users from A-Z (Australia to Zimbabwe). Some of these topics will be different depending on where you're from. We are pulling most of this from our experience in Missouri, USA. If nothing else, we hope that you can use the main bullet points as things to check over with your specific situation. We'll also stick pretty close to the needs of the company and owner instead of addressing more specific topics like employees and employment taxes. 

Legal

  1. Corporate structure
    1. We set up Twisted Willow as an LLC. If you have access in your country to a structure like an LLC, it's extremely beneficial. Here's a quick explanation. The benefits of this are that if something crazy happens, people can't legally go after you personally. When starting up, this is great. You can technically just go with a DBA or even just have people write checks personally to you. But there is no protection in the eyes of the law if you do that in America. One thing to note is that LLC's have different costs and requirements in different states. In Missouri, it's extremely cheap to set up an LLC and there is no annual reporting requirement. This is not the case in most states. Your accountant can help with this.
  2. Local requirements
    1. In addition to deciding your legal structure, you may need a business license for your local municipality. You can get this from the administrative offices of the municipality. If you live in an unincorporated location or if your country works on a different structure, you might be able to get by without a license. If you've taken care of this step, much of the next step will likely already be addressed based on the city's requirements.
  3. Physical Location requirements
    1. You'll want to check what the local requirements are for starting a floral business at home or from a storefront or other physical space. Some of this may have to be done before you can get a local business license. You'll want to check ADA compliance (or whatever your local form of disability assistance is). At our new shop, we have a historical building so it's not always the easiest (or cheapest) to make major adjustments to be ADA compliant. We informed the city that we would be only doing pre-scheduled consultations and would have no walk-ins. They approved us, given that we would find a great coffee shop or something with ADA compliance if we had someone who needed wheelchair or other assistance.
    2. If you're starting your company from your home and you have a homeowners' association, be sure to read the bylaws and ensure that it's fine for you to have a company. From having been in an HOA before, I wouldn't suggest for you to just start calling around first. Just get the by laws and read through them. We personally didn't have an issue when we were working out of our basement but we did see others who unnecessarily had issues because someone was on a power trip. 

Accounting

Your accounting and taxes are one of the crucial parts to determining if your business will succeed or fail. You NEED an incredible accountant. It's really easy to settle for someone who charges you $50 to do a tax return. But if you do, you're wasting thousands and thousands by not having a tax strategy. To put it in perspective, we pay our account around $700-1,000 a year for Twisted Willow work. That sounds like a lot. But being able to sit down with them and have an hour long conversation about tax strategies, insurance, our business location, etc. has saved us tens of thousands. Our accountant also worked with us being small and growing. Not all firms will do that. But the bottom line...get an accountant good enough that will be honest with you but will also search for the absolute best strategy for growing your business.

  1. Book keeping
    1. You need to keep up with your books and your receipts. Bookkeeping is simply the recording of transactions your business had. It's a part of the overall accounting process. You can do this or you can pay for someone to do it. 
  2. Accounting Software
    1. As mentioned above, you need to have a great accountant. You also need to have a great tool that you use to do book keeping and keep up with additional information needed.  Here are the apps we use at Twisted Willow.
    2. If you're a Stemcounter studio user, we have integrations with Quickbooks Online that makes your process incredibly easier. 
  3. Taxes
    1. If you're working for yourself, then you need to know that you'll be paying your own taxes and you need to make sure you are holding back enough to pay for your taxes.
    2. Social Net Programs. There is something call "SECA" (Self-Employment Contributions Act) where you are required to take somewhere above 15% of your profit and that addresses your Social Security. 
    3. Income Taxes. In addition to whatever your country has set up for your social programs, you'll have to be sure that you’re holding back enough for your income taxes. This widely varies but be sure that you’re considering all levels. In our situation, we have a federal, state, AND city tax (YAY for being in one of the few cities in the nation with an additional tax).
    4. Sales Tax.
      1. If your city has a sales tax, you'll want to be sure that you're charging sales tax. 
      2. If you are a Stemcounter Studio user, you can generate a report of all of your sales tax due.
Insurance

It's good to have insurance to cover your back in case oddities happen. Every situation is different and you should rely on your accountant and legal team for advice on how you should proceed. You don't need every insurance in the book. Because of how simple it is to set up an LLC in our state, we didn't even have business liability insurance to protect us at the beginning because we didn't have any money in our account for people to take anyways. Obviously, it would have been a headache having to start a new LLC. But once we realized things were clicking with the company, we knew we needed to get it. 

  1. Vehicle Insurance
    1. If you are utilizing your vehicle in the course of business and have an accident, your business could be liable. You'll want to check with your insurance company to make sure that your insurance covers you even if you're dropping off just a few bouquets. If you have your own vehicle for your company, you'll definitely want the insurance.
  2. Renter's / Property Insurance
    1. You'll want to make sure that you have the proper insurance for your property type. If you're working out of your home, just check with your home insurance people about the possibility of someone robbing you and how that would look. We own a work-live building in St. Louis and Twisted Willow (our shop) rents from ourselves. However, we still need rental insurance.
  3. Professional Liability Insurance
    1. What happens if you accidentally knock over the wedding cake? Or if your contract wasn't built out in a way that protected you? Liability insurance covers what you're liable for. Luckily, the floral industry doesn't have the liability implications of something like construction or a doctor's office, so you should be able to get a better rate.
  4. Business Interruption Insurance
    1. This insurance covers the issue of there ever being a catastrophic event that keeps your business from running or bringing income in. It's a little trickier than other industries, especially if you've booked the events 18 months out. But it's always good to at least discuss the possibility of this insurance.

 

Did we miss anything that's pretty imporant in the country or state you're from? Comment below!

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