Entrepreneurship. Being your own boss. Starting your own business. The American dream, right?!
It’s absolutely tempting, but it’s not without a LOT of consideration. Here are some really big, really important questions to consider before you take that leap.
One note before we really sink our teeth in here: there’s a chance a lot of this could sound discouraging. To be clear, we are not trying to talk anyone out of starting your own business! We’re just trying to make the considerations bright and clear before day 1. In fact, treat this blog as something of a gut check. Those that naturally have entrepreneurship in their DNA will read these questions, and their unequivocal answer to each will be: yes. And if you’re not there yet – that’s ok! You’ll have a better understanding of the steps to get there.
Here are the questions you’ll need to consider before starting your own business:
Do You Have Enough Storage?
Or, Can You Be a Logistics Coordinator and a Custodian?
Floral design is a product-based business. And that means one thing: inventory.
You’ll need a lot of space – likely way more than you think – in order to successfully run your business. A short list of what kind of physical space you need includes:
- Place for product storage of unused (or not-yet-used) raw product
- Painting space
- Paint-drying space
- Crafting space
- Shipping space (a scale, boxes, tape, labels, printer)
- Finished product space
And more. So, where will you get this space? Well, that’s what you need to consider.
Temperature controlled storage space? A small office rental? Maybe and maybe. That all costs money. An unused room in your home? That’s for you to decide. Spare rooms can hard to come by. And if you have one, you’ll need to depriotize, say, a guest bedroom, rec room, or other rooms in favor of your business. And that is definitely a full-family discussion.
In addition to spacial questions, there are those about start-up costs. Do you have enough flowers, greenery, paint, wire stems, containers, etc. to get your first products finished? Do you need to buy a printer or boxes and bubble wrap to ship your items? Think about your products from conception to getting them in the hands of your customers - are there any purchases, big or small, that you will need to make?
Because of all these considerations, you may want to entertain the idea of starting your business as a side hustle rather than a full-time business. This will allow you to minimize inventory purchases, space concerns, begin relationship building, and start the flow of income. This will make scaling, growth, and expansion easier to swallow as you grow!
What’s Your Business Acumen?
Or, Can You Be a CEO?
As you consider your business, you’re likely thinking of the joy of bringing your floral designs into the world. That’s joyful! And creative! And FUN! But running a business is also full of a lot of dry topics that you’ll unfortunately need to be educated on.
For instance, have you registered your business or do you know how to? What’s your business called? Does the name evoke your brand and your personality while also differentiating yourself from your competition? Is it vague enough so you can pivot directions if you need to? Coming up with a business plan will help you to plan out the direction of your business and bring some focus to how you run it!
What’s Your Financial Acumen?
Or, Can You Be a CFO?
What about taxes? Will you handle them solo, or work with a tax professional? How well-versed are you on personal vs. business taxes? How often do you have to pay? Do you have the right systems for tracking and accurate reporting?
What about payment? There are lots of digital options today – PayPal, Venmo, Square, Quickbooks, Cash App, and more. Which will you use? Will you accept straight cash? How will you track it all?
What about gross income vs. net income? Do you have a strong understanding of the difference, and how much you’ll need in each category? This will tie in strongly with your finances. How much income will you need to ensure you’re supporting you and your household? Not only for day-to-day expenses, but monthly bills, insurance, contributing to retirement accounts and personal emergency funds, and so on. If you get big enough that it’s time to hire help, that’s a totally different conversation.
Finally, brace yourself to be in the red for awhile – at least a year, likely more. Brands like Netflix, Uber, and Peloton have all spent time in the red, and most start-up businesses do the same. Make sure you’re comfortable with that financial uncertainty in the long term.
What’s Your Brand Identity?
Or, Can You Be a CMO?
Earlier, we touched on whether you’ve got a strong understanding of your brand, its tone, etc. But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marketing.
Consider: who are your target customers? Brides? Interior Designers? Realtors? Craft show attendees? Be sure you have a strong answer to the question “why is this group your target?”
Do you have a growth plan? Yearly goals?
How about customer acquisition? How will you attract new purchasers? What’s your cost-per-acquisition goal?
Who’s your local competition? How are you different from them? In business, there’s a thing called a USP – a “unique selling proposition.” Basically it’s what YOU can do that the other business can’t. What’s your USP? Will you focus on home decor? Weddings? Corporate events? What kind of social presence will you have?
How Protective Are You Of Your Output?
Or, Can You Be a Creative Director AND an Account Manager?
My husband is also in a creative field, and once or twice per week I hear him muttering to himself: “Client’s gonna client.”
This is basically the creative professional’s version of “the customer is always right.” Even though you’re the one with a history of creative excellence, it’s almost always the person holding the purse strings that makes the final call on approvals. And that person doesn’t always necessarily have the same creative strengths as you.
The thing to consider here is: will you be ok altering your product in a way that you may not totally agree with in order to meet client requests and expectations? Will you thrive in a field (like weddings) where the client may want complete creative control over the look of their florals? This is a challenge for creatively-inclined professionals across a lot of fields. And it’s not easy!
For creative protection, consider wearing your “Account Manager” hat. This requires charisma and persuasion, as you’ll effectively be acting as a relationship manager. Here, you’ll not only need to convince the client to come around to your side, but – and this is what the really great AMs do – find a way to make the client think it was their idea.
Think of it this way: if you’re running your own restaurant, and someone orders something different than what’s on your carefully curated menu, how do you react, and why? Whatever your answer is, it’s probably darn close to how you would handle it in the floral design world.
Finally: Are You Ok With Being Bored By Your Passions?
Or, Can You Be an Employee?
My mother-in-law worked at a bakery as a teenager. Whenever she walks past a bakery and smells all of those delicious baked goods – fresh, warm breads, decadent pastries, rich, buttery croissants – she is neither tempted nor comforted like you and I might be. No, those smells remind her of work – of the labor of years past. She has a different association than you and I.
This is alarmingly common when starting one’s own business. The joy of the output hides the sheer amount of day-to-day work. Just as the movie star goes through years of being a bartender and auditioning again and again and again before making their big break – so too will you spend many a midnight painting that perfect shade of blush pink for a demanding client.
In short: it’s work. It doesn’t matter what the activity is. If you spend 40 or more hours a week doing it (and you will spend more than that), there are times it will be bone dry, or hard, or downright frustrating and unappealing. It will not be a hobby. It will be work, period.
So one of the biggest questions to ask yourself is this - are you excited about turning your once in a while hobby into something you will be fully invested in and committed to (financially, physically, mentally and emotionally), day in and day out? If the answer is yes, let’s get started! If you’re not quite there yet, start your side hustle to get a feel for it. And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!