Starting a new career is always an adventure. Whether you’re planning to leave a full-time job for a career as a florist, or turning a hobby into a career, there are a lot of things to consider as you open a new business. Planning is key in everything, but especially in gaining experience, finding your niche, creating your business plan, budgeting for startup costs and developing your marketing plan.
Without making a plan that encompasses these areas, you could be setting your new business up for failure. What can you do to make sure your business is set up for success? Here are our recommendations.
Becoming a full-time florist isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of work to get the knowledge and skills you need to open your flower shop. Before you even consider the design aspect of the job, there are basic things you need to know, like which flowers bloom in which season.
While that knowledge and those skills may not always come in the form of a formal degree, it’s certainly helpful to take courses that can help you prepare for becoming a florist. This wide range of courses may include botany, biology, art and business. If you can’t find a nearby college or university with the course offerings you’re looking for, search the Internet for online courses you can take.
While some level of education is important, more often than not, talented florists get their expertise from internships and part-time jobs at other flower shops. Sure, florists may have a natural eye for designing floral arrangements, but it takes experience to learn what’s in season and what types of floral arrangements work best for particular occasions — not to mention your customers’ requests and the logistics of running a business. Get an internship or a part-time job at a flower shop you admire, and you’ll get the opportunity to learn all this — and more! — firsthand.
Find Your Niche
Something else you’re sure to get a feel for working in a floral shop is what types of floral arrangements you enjoy designing the most. Do you enjoy coming up with creative designs people can feature in their home for every holiday? Are you in love with designing an entire set of floral designs for wedding ceremonies and receptions?
Why is this important? You can’t be all things to all people. Your flower shop needs to have a niche. That doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally step out of your niche, but establishing a specialty helps you target a specific group of consumers in your marketing — more about that later.
Create a Business Plan
To have a business, you need a plan. Don’t be intimidated! This doesn’t have to be anything too complex — often, it’s just getting a lot of the plans you’ve been thinking about down on paper. Start with some of the easy stuff — what will your business name be? Where will it be located? Will you be hiring any employees?
Then, tackle some of the harder stuff. Your business will need to be registered — will you register it as an LLC, corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship? What are your preliminary income goals? Do you have estimates of how many supplies you’ll need and what the estimated cost will be? Part of a business plan is setting goals and getting budget estimates down on paper so you can anticipate changes you may need to make to stay on track to meet your goals.
Plan for Startup Costs
Once you have a plan in place, it’s time to flush out the costs that will be associated with starting your business.
- Location — Will you be buying or renting space for your flower shop? Perhaps working out of your home when you start? Regardless of which options you choose, there are costs associated with each. Even beginning your floral design in your home will cost something, because you’ll need a space dedicated to storing and designing your floral arrangements.
- Employees — Whether you’re planning on hiring employees right away, or waiting until after you’ve been in business for a bit, this is a cost you need to anticipate. How much help will you need? What rate do you need to be able to offer to be competitive in your local floral market? Remember, having someone join you in design will cost more than hiring part-time help to assist you with administrative tasks.
- Technology — Chances are, you aren’t going to be running your business with solely pen and paper. You need to be able to process payments, check emails and track inventory — no matter how small — and sales so you can keep track of your profit and know when you need to order more supplies. You’ll need a computer and either a cash register or point-of-sale system. As with all technology and software, there are simple solutions and more complex solutions. The pricing varies greatly depending upon the features you want.
- Website — Seventy-eight percent of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases. That’s right — we aren’t talking about the people who are buying online, we’re talking about those who are going to walk into your store and make an offline purchase. If you want that 78 percent of people searching locally to notice you, you need a website.
When budgeting your startup costs, don’t skimp on your website design. There are a lot of beautiful florist websites you can use for inspiration, but make sure your website reflects your unique flair. The last thing you want to do in the midst of starting your own business is to try to put your design skills to work on a new website. Search for designs you like and make a list of features you’d like yours to have, then hand this one off to the professionals to ensure your website has a look that will please your consumers.
Developing Your Marketing Plan
Think of a marketing plan as a key extension of your business plan. While the business plan lays out the big-picture organization and financial goals and estimates, the marketing plan is how you’ll promote yourself once you have all that in order.
The first step is to develop overall marketing objectives. Think of these as your marketing goals. How many new customers would you like to serve in your first year? What percentage of those do you want to come back as repeat customers? As a brand-new business, recognition will be important. Do you want to set a goal of attending at least one event per month? Or perhaps appearing on the first page of Google search results when someone types in “florists in ______”?
Once you’ve decided on your marketing objectives, you need supplies to get the job done. If you have an ambitious goal for the number of new customers you’d like to have in your first year and want to attend one event per month, you’re going to need to have a set of marketing materials designed that represent your business.
It’s logical to think this might be an area where you can cut costs — either by not getting the marketing materials at all, or by trying to design them yourself. But remember, these materials are the first encounter many people have with your business. You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression. In the long run, it will pay off to hire a professional who has experience with branding.
The first step in creating your marketing materials is to create your brand. Your brand consists of the colors, fonts and designs that will represent your new business venture — and the first step is to create a logo that shows off your brand. This isn’t something that should be taken lightly. Creating a logo is important for florists who are invested in a business with a polished, professional appearance. Your logo will often be the first representation of your business people see, so it’s one of the most important elements of your marketing plan.
Your brand will be present in everything — onsite in your shop and on all your marketing materials. Hire a designer who specializes in branding and custom logo design for florists, so you can be sure you have a professional-looking brand that will be an asset in your new venture.
When you’re networking with others — whether you’re at a Chamber of Commerce event, vendor fair or just hanging out with family and friends — custom business cards for florists are a must. You may be talking to someone you just met, or someone you’ve known for years — either way, you’re going to want to give them a business card so they can remember your business.
That card will likely be the first interaction they have with your new business, so you want to be sure your logo is prominently displayed and that your cards are designed to reflect the brand you’ve decided on. For example, if your brand has an edgy look, you might want to venture away from the standard rectangular business card and go for a square, or a completely different shape altogether.
For small businesses, business card design provides an opportunity to stand out in a crowd, and when you’re a new startup, you need every advantage to succeed. Set aside a budget for this, and don’t settle.
While business cards do a great job of giving the first impression of your business, they aren’t great at listing products and services you offer. That’s where flyers and brochures come in. Think of these as an expanded version of your business card — obviously, your brand will be incorporated, as well as the contact information from your business card — but flyers and brochures leave room for more content.
Here, you have an opportunity to elaborate on your niche. Do you welcome the opportunity to do custom wedding designs? Or perhaps you have a variety of floral designs people can use to make their homes more festive during holidays? Whatever your specialty is, talk about the specific products you offer.
Another part of your marketing materials that may come as an afterthought is stationery. Yes, in a perfect world, you’d get branded note cards and notepads, but the most important piece of stationery is letterhead. Letterhead is usually fairly simple, featuring your florist logo design and some other design elements.
Why is it necessary? You’ll want to print invoices and other business correspondence on letterhead. It’s all part of bringing your business to life. A handwritten invoice or one printed on a plain sheet of paper with your business name in Times New Roman at the top just doesn’t look as polished as a custom letterhead design with your florist logo.
Last, but certainly not least, is your website. The reality is that no matter how many business cards and flyers you hand out, the overwhelming majority of people are going to be searching online for your product, and you need to be there to greet them. Website design for florists is especially important — it should be very visual and feature photos of your floral designs. Consumers want to see what they’re buying, so dedicate the time to get high-quality photos of your work. If your budget allows, hire a professional photographer.
While showing off your design talents is important, a website is an integral part of capturing leads. For example, you can learn a lot about your customers and potential customers with Google Analytics, which is a free service.
In addition, florists’ website design should include a contact form and, if you’re willing, an e-commerce platform that allows people to submit orders online. If you’re planning to accept payments through your website, keep in mind you’ll need to have additional security.
While design is a key part of a website, functionality is essential. Don’t let a consumer down with a broken link or a form that won’t submit — set money aside to invest in a professional design shop that can create a website that captures your brand and new customers.
While there are a variety of ways to spread the word about your business for free, paid advertising is still something you should invest in — specifically, online advertising. Remember, 78 percent of local-mobile searches result in a purchase. Google Adwords can make sure your business is near the top of the Google search results page for consumers to see.
Social media platforms also create opportunities to reach a highly targeted audience through advertising. For example, if your niche is weddings, you could reach women between the ages of 25-35, within 25 miles of your town, who are engaged. Of course, advertising budgets vary, and not everyone can do everything.
Traditional advertising in newspapers, weekly magazines, other publications and radio still has a place in many marketing plans, too. The balance of online vs. traditional all depends on the customers you’re trying to target, which are determined by your niche — see, we told you it was important. Everything is connected, and while it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of starting your new business, make sure you stop and give each of these items a lot of thought. The future of your business depends on it.
In addition to getting your marketing materials in place, it’s important to remember to get out and put them to good use. Look into opportunities to attend networking events, consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce, keep an eye out for bridal shows and other vendor events that you could use to put your floral designs on display and your business cards to good use.
You’re a talented floral designer. Yes, customers purchase your flowers, but what matters most to them is the unique way you design each floral arrangement you sell. You’re an artist — and as an artist, you can make money using your talents and expertise. Your ultimate goal should be to build a brand and become financially stable doing something you love.
Our team of professional designers, illustrators, web designers and developers can take your marketing materials design off your hands. We’ve worked with a variety of entrepreneurs, so we understand how important it is to capture the essence of your new business in your design, but also move at a quick pace, all while being sure we give your materials the greatest attention to detail.
The services we offer include, but are not limited to, custom logo design for florists, website design for florists and florist business card designs. To get a quote on our marketing materials, please tell us about yourself and your new business by submitting the contact form on our website.