Florist

Startup Costs: $2,000 - $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No

THE BRIEF

In 2018, Americans spent $3.36 billion on cut flowers, and for many of us, the idea of opening a cute little flower shop is the pinnacle of our entrepreneurial whimsies. But while florists say that the creativity of the job is rewarding, the business can also be pretty grueling. "Floristry has been glamorized as a luxurious, hobby-like career,” says Heather Williams, the founder of L.A. shop Twig & Twine. “But we deal with 4 a.m. alarms, tired bodies, a perishable product and difficult clients. We work weekends and holidays — especially holidays.” Given that flower demand is largely dependent on the state of the economy, and you’re working with a perishable inventory, it can be a tough market in which to turn a profit. Experts suggest diversifying your offerings to include non-perishable services like cards, candles and ceramics, or services like door-to-door delivery, events and flower-arrangement classes.  

It's possible to start your business at home with minimal seed money. You can buy flowers wholesale, and buy equipment like a cooler, vases, pruning tools and ribbons. But if you want to operate out of a storefront, you’ll likely need $30,000 to $60,000 in funding.

ASK THE PROS: 

How much can you expect to make? 

According to the Society of American Florists, the average flower shop makes $362,318 in annual revenue. Paul Goodman, the president of Floral Finance Business Services says your salary and potential profit are usually both 10% of sales, which means you’d take home a salary of about $36,000 and the business--if managed well--could turn about a $36,000 profit. These days it can be difficult to operate without a wiring service like 1-800-Flowers.com, however, and that can eat into as much as 27 percent of each sale. That said, there are some new options like the start-up BloomNation, an online local marketplace that allows vendors to keep 90 percent of their sales.

What should be your main focus when starting out?

Landing regular clients. “In the beginning, I focused on acquiring weekly accounts with restaurants, hotels, residences and marketing agencies,” says Bess Wyrick, of Celadon and Celery. “It was easier to control my buying when I had standing orders.” 

How do you attract new clients?

At the beginning, celebrity florist Jeff Leatham says you should budget to give some flowers away for free. If you get in the good graces of prospective clients-- particularly ones with big social followings, who might post about you-- that can pay off in a big way. “I know this sounds strange, but keeping an open mind, in the beginning, maybe [also an open] pocketbook, because sometimes you have to give away some free things to get that to happen," Leatham says. "You want to send some things to them, kind of as a note just to get their attention. As time goes on, maybe a little reminder. And then, usually they'll start to call you and use you. So ... the best way to look at it is as more of a business expense. How many people have called me and said, Oh my gosh. You've done the Clintons' wedding, or Sofia Vergara, or Eva Longoria, or the Kardashians, or this or that, and I've gotten business from that."

How should you think about pricing?

You can grab flowers in the checkout line of your local supermarket, but when customers come to a florist, they’re looking for a specialist, and they’re usually willing to pay for it. “Supermarkets sell flowers,” says Amy Backman, founder of Spruce Flowers & Home in South Minneapolis. “We offer an experience, design, expertise, quality and a range of uncommon flowers.”

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