Few businesses are more rewarding for your creativity than arranging stunning bouquets. Best of all, floristry is the kind of small business you can easily run online, from the comfort of your own home.
Aside from picking out the right flowers and figuring out your USP, though, there’s a whole host of business factors you’ll need to consider to make sure your company really thrives. Here, we’ll take you through a few of the most important things to consider before you get started.
The initial investment
Be prepared to spend almost as much time behind a computer as you will making beautiful creations. It requires more than buying fresh, beautiful flowers every day. You’ll also need a range of vases, stands, props and embellishments (from ribbons to frames). Most importantly, you’ll need to transport your work quickly, safely and effectively — namely, with a van. Budgeting is key to making the best use of your money, and working from home or selling online will make this easier because the initial capital investment will be a lot smaller. This is because acquiring a premise is hugely expensive and, unless you plan on hiring some staff, often unnecessary. Many people prefer to order their flowers online now, anyway.
Stock is king
There’s a fine balance between buying an array of flowers and wasting money. There’s no substitute for experience in this but, until you know what sells, buy less stock more frequently. Also, to minimise waste and maximise learning, it’s important you keep track of what sells well, what doesn’t (and how this varies at different times of the year), how long different varieties last, and the best ways to prolong freshness. Where appropriate, consider support flower sales selling products with a longer shelf life, such as garden tools and seeds.
Find your voice
There are a lot of florists on the high street and online. To succeed, you need to be unique and memorable, so find a signature that stands out from the crowd. Using native varieties or eco-friendly practices are a couple of examples.
Consider the following: what is your message? Who is your target audience? Use this to refine your approach and make it relatable. And while you should follow trends, it’s crucial you remain true to your creative vision.
It’s great when customers love your work, but they need to find you first. This is where a strong online and social media presence comes in useful. A website that’s user-friendly, discoverable by search engines, but also looks great is key.
In such a visual field, Instagram is a no-brainer to showcase your creations. Other great visual marketing channels include Pinterest and a Facebook business page. Using a quality camera and learning some basic photography techniques will help do your work justice. Bad lighting or the wrong angle of an image could lose you sales opportunities. The biggest key is to be authentic and to engage with your audience, both in your content and by replying to comments.
Interesting captions for your images are also vital, as well as the use of relevant hashtags. Many don’t consider the times of the day to post either, but more of your followers may be online during their commute, or on a Sunday evening for example. Above all, though, you should talk to your followers, answering any questions they may have, following other people’s accounts, and leaving questions or comments for them. It takes time and effort to get your social media strategy right but it is worth it. Top florists on social media have hundreds of thousands of followers, which opens the door to valuable business opportunities.
That said, don’t forget that delivering excellent customer service is still the heart of any floristry business; that’s how your name spreads around.
Plan for the unexpected
You’ll also have a few practical decisions to make. First, you’ll need to choose whether you’ll be a sole trader or set up as a limited liability company. Sole trading is a faster and easier option. The second protects your personal assets: keeping them separate from your business. Either way, it’s useful to set up a dedicated business bank account to keep track of your expenditure and cash flow.
The law also requires you to understand health and safety regulations. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has a useful list of issues, written specifically for florists, covers everything from allergies to tetanus and poisonous plants. According to the IOSH leaflet, you are legally obliged to write a health and safety policy for your business, develop a plan to manage risks for yourself, your customers and your staff, and know how to store and dispose of products containing hazardous chemicals.
If you ever plan on selling your flowers directly to the public, also make sure you have public liability insurance. This can protect you from any customer accidents that might occur. You should also look at getting product liability insurance, legal expenses, and business-interruption cover (which can protect your income if an injury or other major disruption prevents you from working).
Remember that, when you sell flowers online, you need to comply with the Consumer Rights law and online and distance-selling regulations. This ensures that your flowers must be delivered on time (on the agreed day if you ordered a timed delivery, or within 30 days if no date was specified) and be of satisfactory quality and as described. Your customer has a right to request a refund if what you deliver doesn’t match the picture on your site — so make sure that your images, while beautiful, are also 100% accurate!
Whether you want to register as a limited company or acquire a range of insurance options, the process of forming your floral business can be time-consuming — and it can be difficult knowing where to start. So, we’re here to help with the whole process. If you’re interested in finding out more, head to the register a company package page for more information.